The Duke Human Rights Center at Franklin Humanities Institute supports students looking to learn more about human rights-related issues by supporting house courses that focus on a human rights-related topic. The classes should have substantive, though not exclusive human rights content. The DHRC can also connect students to faculty sponsors for select house courses.

Please direct all questions about house courses to Robin Kirk at



In the 2023-2024 academic year, preference will be given toward house courses that focus on reproductive rights, environmental justice, indigenous rights, and/or disability rights. House courses that focus on other human rights themes are still welcome to apply.



Instructors who receive funding will be asked to present a brief summary of the course during our annual Global Ideas, Local Impact event featuring student human rights research. This event typically occurs in March. The event includes presentations by Duke alumni working in human rights-related fields.



We can offer up to $500 per House course. Funding can be used for speaker honoraria, trips, meals, or other activities that enrich the classroom experience. House courses must be approved to receive consideration. 

Past/Present House Courses Supported

Fall  2024
Instructor: Diego Ge / 
Faculty Sponsor: Prof. Ralph Litzinger /

Course Description: China is emerging as one of the world’s superpowers in the 21st century, yet its form of society and politics stands markedly distinct from the Western world. This has led to a variety of simplistic narratives surrounding Chinese society: from the understanding of China as a totalitarian state with insurmountable state control on all sectors of civil life, to the understanding that China represents a more efficient and advanced form of governance than liberal democracies. This course seeks to use historical and political lenses to problematize these different imaginaries of Chinese society, by focusing on social movements in Chinese society since the post-Mao Reforms & Opening. Ultimately, we aim to look at Chinese social movements on their own terms, and reflect on notions of movement, freedom, equality, institutionality and power in the context of contemporary Chinese society.

Fall  2024
Instructor: Jerry Zou /
Faculty Sponsor: Prof. Juliana Barr /

Course Description: In American popular media past and present, the American West has been a symbol of romanticization, individualism, and the opportunity for a better life. This skewed representation in film, literature, news, and popular culture shadows the much more complex and multi-lateral parts of the historical development of the West. Where was the West? Who were the power holders? What was the true cost of the Louisiana Purchase? Why are coins with the initial “C. C.” so popular today? What industries are hiding behind the theater stages of California’s Hollywood? This course reexamines the ways famous narratives have been taught and told in classrooms and media to peel back the sugarcoat that has engulfed the complicated entanglement of environmental, economic, Native American, and immigration histories of the American West. Ultimately, we will understand the effects and implications that misleading historical narratives have on our past and current society.

Spring  2024
Instructors: Danny Enrico / , Jillian Jacobs / 
Faculty Sponsor: Robin Kirk / 

Course Description: As Duke students, you are in a unique position to create real change across the globe. By learning how to best advocate and support those in need, you can make a substantive difference. This house course takes an examination of humanitarian and social issues such as child poverty, education, health, gender equality, and climate change and the innovative approaches that UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) utilizes. Students will analyze international NGOs and the efficacy of developmental and humanitarian aid. Provides opportunities to engage with humanitarian and social work career professionals.