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Human Interactions and Normative Innovation (HI-NORM)

Year of Funding: 

For a detailed summary of 2012-13 activities, click here.

The Tri-Campus research cluster on Human Interactions and Normative Innovation (HI-NORM) is an ongoing project that includes faculty and graduate students from all three campuses of the University of Washington and a broad variety of departments and disciplines, from the humanities and social sciences, to the law school, and Evans School of Public Affairs. Research includes both historical and contemporary approaches to issues of human rights and to the process of normative innovation that is often catalyzed by interactions across boundaries.

In the past, the cluster has organized study groups and convened workshops on research by UW members; has invited highly regarded scholars to UW to share their research; and has developed an ongoing relationship with the Cluster of Excellence on the Formation of Normative Orders at the University of Frankfurt in Germany. In May 2012 at the Simpson Center, HI-NORM organized and hosted a conference on the topic of “Cosmopolitan Rights and Responsibilities.” For that conference, we were joined by five faculty and graduate students from the University of Frankfurt. In May 2013, five cluster members participated in a conference on “Cosmopolitanism, Human Rights, and Religion in Post-Secular Societies” at the University of Frankfurt, which included researchers from South Africa and Nigeria, as well as researchers from the University of Frankfurt.  Professor Jürgen Habermas, the most highly regarded political philosopher in the world, was an active participant in the conference.

2012-13 events and activities include:           


  • A cluster lunch and discussion on "The Post-Secular Society" led by James Wellman (Jackson School of International Studies)

WINTER QUARTER 2013              

  • A panel on “Circumcision as a Human Rights Issue,” moderated by Michael Rosenthal (Philosophy). Schmidt also led a separate colloquium on “Reflective Secularization: Religious Belief and Public Reason” and had meeting with interested faculty and graduate students.  
  • A new interdisciplinary course in on Issues of Global Justice (POL S 207/PHIL 207/VALUES 207), co-taught by instructors Bill Talbott (Philosophy), Michael Blake (Philosophy), and Jamie Mayerfeld (Political Science)


  • A lecture by Melissa Williams (Political Science, University of Toronto), founding Director of the Centre for Ethics at the University of Toronto, on global democracy.  (Friday, April 12, 2013)
  • A conference on the topic “Human Rights, Cosmopolitanism, and (Post-Secular) Religion,” hosted by The Cluster of Excellence on the Formation of Normative Orders at the University of Frankfurt in May 2013. A call for papers was sent out in October.   


  • Oct. 23-25, 2013 –Seyla Benhabib (Political Science and Philosophy, Yale University) will visit the UW campus and deliver a Walker Ames Lecture.


For more information, or to be added to the HI-NORM email list, contact Bill Talbott.

Primary Contacts