Rights Connect

Rights Connect
2013 to 2014
Emerging Networks

Human rights fires the imaginations of peoples around the world struggling for greater political, social and cultural space even as the phrase escapes a one-fits-all definition, with activists constantly reinterpreting and reimagining what constitutes inalienable rights, who can claim them, and how they can best be framed and fought for.  Both the study and practice of human rights are active areas of inquiry at Duke, uniquely positioned among leading universities to bridge the divide between "civil" rights, rooted in US law and the Constitution, and "human rights," fed by the US experience but also drawing on international influences. Located in the American South and with a grounding in the lived experience of the American rights struggle, Duke can both provide the intellectual rigor to questions surrounding rights and also build partnerships with local, national and international practitioners.

Under the leadership of the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute (DHRC@FHI), partnering with the Duke Human Rights Archive, part of Perkins Library, and working in connection with the DHRC at the Kenan Institute for Ethics and the new “Human Rights and Social Movements” concentration in History, this project will explore how Duke can articulate a sustainable collection of human rights classes, service-learning experiences and research opportunities, highlighting new pedagogies based on vertically integrated research teams, on-site learning, service placements (including through Duke Engage) and peer-to-peer networks that encourage students to articulate their own rights vision.  It will bring together existing and new stakeholders to assess the current state of human rights study and practice at Duke and chart a path toward new approaches that will be both sustainable and add value to the undergraduate experience.

Urgent questions that appeal to both faculty members and undergraduate students include thorny issues like humanitarian intervention; the balance of truth, justice, reconciliation and post-conflict peace-making; the persistence of poverty and an expanding underclass deprived of basic rights in developed nations; the impact of the "war on terror" on international relations and privacy; the relationship between rights, environmental justice and climate change; and new rights frontiers in science demand a multidisciplinary approach.

Specifically, they will implement a faculty/staff/student research seminar on human rights in post-secondary education to examine the study of human rights in contemporary universities, and they will host a series of public talks and meetings with students by prominent human rights thinkers who are also educators in a coordinated effort to rethink the role of universities in human rights education.

During the fall 2013 semester, Rights Connect is sponsoring two speakers: Leslie Brown (History, Williams College) will talk about civil rights education. She will also speak to Barbara Lau's Civil Rights/Human Rights: the Legacy of Pauli Murray class and have informal meetings with our Faculty and Student Advisory Boards as well as the PMP steering committee. The public talk is September 17 in the FHI Garage. 

Their next speaker is the University of Chicago's Michael Geyer, also a historian, who directs their human rights program. We have a similar schedule set up for him on October 31. His talk, which will be on October 31, is entitled Human Rights Education After Human Rights Idolatry.


William H. Chafe
Professor Emeritus
Robin Kirk
Faculty Co-Chair of the Executive Committee of the DHRC@FHI
Robert R. Korstad
Professor of Public Policy and History
Co-director, Program on History, Public Policy and Social Change
Bass Fellow
Erika Weinthal
Associate Professor of Environmental Policy
Associate Dean of International Programs, Nicholas School of the Environment


Duke's New Human Rights Certificate
Duke's New Human Rights Certificate
-- Nov 23 2015

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... Read More