The certificate requires a selection of six courses including a capstone that provides in-depth mentored research with faculty working in human rights, giving students analytical, conceptual, empirical and practical knowledge that prepares them to be engaged, informed and active citizens. The list of approved human rights electives can be found here under Course Archives. 
  1. A required Gateway, Introduction to Human Rights. Gives priority to freshmen and sophomores, and has two primary purposes: to define and explore the key terms, concepts, foundations and theories of human and civil rights; and examine alternative or competing definitions of rights using a case-based approach. Includes critiques of human rights, including from conservatives, nationalist and non-western thinkers. Through the Gateway course, students can 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. The class combines lectures, classroom discussion, films, exhibits, guest lectures and case-based work on specific rights issues.
  2. Four electives. A course can count towards the human rights certificate if it contains a preponderance of readings or other materials of inquiry that reference human and civil rights history, concepts, theory, practice, discourse, advocacy or a combination of these elements. A course can have a thematic focus on human rights, including in areas of civil rights and social justice; it can have a regional focus, examining rights in a specific location; or a disciplinary focus, as in how a specific type of study, like biology or literature, approaches a rights question. No more than two of the four courses may come from the same home department. Students can petition for a course to count toward the certificate by submitting a syllabus and rationale for the relevance, specifying how it meets the criteria listed above. This would include courses taken outside Duke, including study abroad. Students looking to satisfy the requirements for the Human Rights Certificate may use no more than two courses that also meet the requirements for a major, minor or other certificate. Read the Trinity Graduation requirements
  3. A capstone seminar, Capstone in Human Rights. This course is for students in their senior year who have completed the Gateway and are enrolled in the Human Rights Certificate program. It allows students to connect the intellectual themes and scholarly knowledge they have developed in the Gateway, electives and human rights-related experiences. Students pursue an in-depth exploration of a particular dimension or problem of human rights or a service-oriented project with real-world impact. Students are encouraged to take their work into other modes of expression, including the arts or documentary work.

    A two-semester thesis paper that contains significant human rights content may replace the Capstone in Human Rights course. Examples of previously approved thesis papers include:

    Written in Plain Sight: Collaborative Murals as a Form of Community Organizing and Activism (Lizzie Kramer, Cultural Anthropology)
    Motherhood and Moral Panics (Elina Friedman Rodriguez, English)
    Finding Home Through Migration: Narratives of Queer Refugees (David Marin Quiros, International Comparative Studies)
    Examining Family Separation Through Narratives of Family, Migration, and Separation Among Deported Mexican-U.S. Family Members (Tyler Kopp, Public Policy)

Human Rights Courses


North Carolina Human Rights History Capstone


Human Rights Certificate Seniors and Alumni