Human Rights Photographs Formatted title of Duke Human Rights Center Formatted quote about Human Rights

About the Duke Human Rights Center

The Duke Human Rights Center brings together an interdisciplinary group of scholars and students to promote new understandings about human rights, terror, political violence and the politics of forgiveness, accountability and reconciliation. Our objective is to create a synergy that will position Duke as a leader in cutting-edge, creative scholarship and teaching on these themes.

The Initiative seeks to promote collaborative, cross-disciplinary and critical thinking, education and research at Duke about human rights issues. As a group and as individuals, we meet regularly to discuss and plan events and develop new courses and areas of research, making connections between faculty, students and practitioners. Over the past two years, the Initiative has sponsored over a dozen rights-related events, many of them generating media coverage and attention outside Duke. We have also helped develop six new human rights-related courses for undergraduates, all with service-learning components. Eventually, we hope to offer a certificate in human rights and provide undergraduates with increased opportunities for mentored research, internships and course-related practice in the human rights field.

ICTY prosecutor Dan Saxon speaks with Duke Faculty and graduate students

ICTY prosecutor Dan Saxon speaks
with Duke Faculty and graduate students
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In a related endeavor, we are working with the Library to develop new human rights-related archives. In 2005-2006, we assisted the Special Collections Department in the acquisition of the archives of the Center for International Policy, an important US-based human rights group located in Washington, DC. We continue to look for appropriate human rights-related institutions that could benefit from depositing their materials at Duke.

One of our key aims is to bridge the existing gap between civil rights and human rights communities, emphasizing a global view that connects advances in human rights abroad with emerging challenges to human rights at home. Duke is favorably positioned in this regard, able to contribute original research and thinking on the civil rights movement to human rights debate and vice versa. As one example of how this can work, in the Fall of 2005 Duke undergraduates sponsored by the Initiative interned for the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the first US-based effort to apply the lessons of South Africa to the American experience. Also that fall, we sponsored a conference on labor rights, drawing the experiences of the past into new perspectives for unions, immigrants and the unfulfilled promises for economic justice of the civil rights era.

A more ambitious goal is to lay the intellectual and institutional groundwork for the establishment of a Duke University Center for Human Rights. We envision the center as dynamic, multivocal crossroads where scholars, writers, artists, officials, literary critics, filmmakers, journalists and human rights activists will present, exchange and sharpen ideas about human rights issues including women's and children's rights; rights with respect to poverty and racism, religious freedom and fundamentalism; artistic and journalistic freedoms; refugees and exile; the place of human rights in the war on terror; and the politics of justice, forgetting, and accountability in the shadow of mass violence. Eventually, we hope to establish a semester-long residency at Duke for a human rights activist, inviting a domestic activist and an international activist in alternate years. This program will be linked to the on-going development of the Scholars at Risk program.

View the catalog of Duke Human Rights and Rights-Related courses for Spring 2008.

Duke Human Rights Center - rights@duke.edu
235 John Hope Franklin Center, Franklin Humanities Institute
2204 Erwin Rd., Box 90403, Duke University
Durham, NC 27708-0403
Voice: 1-919-668-6511 Fax: 1-919-668-1919

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