This class will establish some of the foundations and histories of human rights, then take an in-depth look at the challenges that face us as a world community. This includes using a human rights lens to think about refugees and asylum-seekers; climate change; genetic engineering; privacy; the right to truth; and international humanitarian law. This class is interdisciplinary and discussion-based. We will be examining real-life cases from around the world and including the United States. Readings will include materials prepared by philosophers, historians, activists, lawyers, documentarians, anthropologists, and journalists, among others.
 
Robin Kirk is the Faculty Co-Chair of the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute and is a founding member of the Pauli Murray Project, an initiative of the center that seeks to use the legacy of this Durham daughter to examine the region’s past of slavery, segregation and continuing economic inequality. An author and human rights advocate, Kirk is a lecturer in the Department of Cultural Anthropology and directs the Human Rights Certificate. Kirk has written three books, including More Terrible Than Death: Massacres, Drugs and America’s War in Colombia (Public Affairs) and The Monkey’s Paw: New Chronicles from Peru (University of Massachusetts Press). She is a co-editor of The Peru Reader: History, Culture, Politics (Duke University) and co edits Duke University Press’s “World Readers” series. An essayist and award-winning poet, she has published widely on issues as diverse as the Andes, torture, the politics of memory, family life and pop culture. Her essay on Belfast, “City of Walls,” is included in the Best American Travel Writing anthology of 2012 (Mariner Books). Kirk authored, co-authored and edited over twelve reports for Human Rights Watch, all available on-line. In the 1980s, Kirk reported for U.S. media from Peru, where she covered the war between the government and the Shining Path. She continues to write for US media, and has been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, Sojourners, The American Scholar, the Raleigh News and Observer, the Boston Globe, the Durham Herald Sun and other media.