Duke's New Human Rights Certificate

Monday, November 23, 2015
Humanities Writ Large

The HWL Emerging Network RightsConnect was integral to the development of the Human Rights Certificate, a recent addition to Duke's curriculum. Robin Kirk, co-director of the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute, reports on the process:

RightsConnect allowed a diverse group of faculty, students and staff to engage in a two-year long process of imagining what a human rights focus in education could mean at Duke. We took the university's location as a strength, identifying rights stories and issues in the civil rights histories of the community around us. At the same time, Duke's global presence brought in ideas and examples from hot spots like the Sudan, the Southern cone and Europe. We convoked practitioners and scholars from around the country to talk about their work in devising human rights content in curriculum, research and community engagement.

A working group met to devise a proposal for a human rights certificate for undergraduates. One of the innovations of the certificate, made possible by exchanges funded by RightsConnect, was a new Gateway course that combines a traditional class format with case-based work on specific rights issues. This design insures that students will see the connections between key rights ideas, like individual vs. collective rights, Western origins of rights concepts, humanitarian challenges, rights in the arts and visual culture and rights practice as well as see how these ideas work in practice. We plan to highlight cases that are visible in our own community of Durham and North Carolina and that have international implications.

On Thursday, November 12, the Academic Council of Arts and Sciences voted to approve the Human Rights Certificate, now a part of Duke's curriculum. Administered as an interdisciplinary program by FHI, the certificate will begin enrolling students in Spring 2016. The first Gateway course will also be taught that semester.

Referenced People

Faculty Co-Chair of the Executive Committee of the DHRC@FHI

Referenced Projects