Each semester, Duke offers undergraduates dozens of courses related to global human rights issues. The courses come from a variety of disciplines, including history, genome science, economics, African and African American studies and cultural anthropology, among others. This reflects the interdisciplinary nature of human rights as well as the approach of the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute. While we acknowledge and study global human rights issues through a legal or public policy framework, we are also interested in the subject through the frame of the arts, critical inquiry and the hard sciences, to name a few. As we work toward creating a human rights certificate, the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute is committed to developing new courses and involving students in not only the study of human rights, but also its practice.

View the Spring 2018 Human Rights Courses


CULANTH 104D Introduction to Human Rights


This course introduces students to the field of human rights. The course has two primary purposes: to define and explore the key terms, concepts, foundations and theories of human rights; and examine alternative or competing definitions of rights using a case-based approach. This approach will include critiques of human rights, including from conservatives, nationalist and non-western thinkers. This design ensures 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.


HISTORY 344 History of US Social Movements


Examines the social movements that have shaped U.S. history, starting with the American Revolution itself and covering others including the anti-slavery movement, women’s rights, Populism, Socialism, the Ku Klux Klan, the labor movement, the Black Freedom Movement and broader New Left, lesbian and gay liberation, and the recent conservative movement, focusing on the ethical issues arguments they raised, and how new civil, political, and social rights were created through social movement organizing. Lectures and readings explore why these movements arose, what they achieved, why many opposed them, and what we can learn about American history writ large from their experiences. 


SOCIOL 211.01 Social Inequality

INSTRUCTOR: Lauren Valentino

The nature, forms, and socioeconomic bases of inequality. Age, gender, race, ethnicity, class, region, and family as dimensions of inequality. Variations in the structure of inequality over time and across nations. How educational institutions, economic development, work institutions, and state welfare programs affect the shape of inequality. Social inequality and social mobility.  


EDUC 259S.01 Student Activism, Storytelling, and Community Change

INSTRUCTOR: Jennifer Ahern-Dodson

The course will include an examination of personal narrative in US student activism across multiple media and genres. Students will investigate the ways in which personal narratives and storytelling advocate for social justice and reform, the ethics and practice of crafting, circulating, and using personal narratives in student-led movements, and the university’s role in advancing student activism as a form of civic engagement.


SPANISH 306.01 Health, Culture and the Latino Community

INSTRUCTOR: Bethzaida Fernandez

Exploration of health issues in the Spanish-speaking world shaped by social, cultural, political, ethnic, and economic determinants. Topics: cultural competency, community beliefs, medical practices and policies, preventive medicine, mental health. Projects include presentations, writing, research, and conversations with local and global contacts. Evaluation on knowledge of content, oral and written proficiency in Spanish. One 300-level Spanish course recommended prior to enrolling. Prerequisite: Spanish 204 or equivalent.