DukeImmerse helped me grow not only as a student but as a person. It was the most rewarding educational experience I’ve ever had.

Lauren Kelly ’16

DukeImmerse is a semester-long program in which all courses are small seminars, interdisciplinary and build on a single theme. Each DukeImmerse program comprises:a cluster of courses in which everyone is enrolled; curriculum based on issues related to the professors’ research; high faculty and student interaction; classroom learning connected with the real world and small enrollments (about a dozen students each). DukeImmerse resembles the first-year Focus program at Duke, except students take all courses together, not just a subset.  DukeImmerse is an academic counterpart to the co-curricular DukeEngage program. Programs may provide global off-campus experiences to enhance the curriculum and may target sophomores or older students, depending on the need for prerequisites.

The DukeImmerse program supported by the DHRC@FHI is the Rights & Identities in the Americas program.

Spring 2023: Human Rights, Linguistic Rights, and Contemporary Challenges

The Americas are a historic crucible for the development and practice of human, civil, and linguistic rights. The region has witnessed devastating abuses, including the genocide of First Nation peoples, African Americans, and others throughout the Americas. The region and these communities have also contributed powerful new ideas about the protection of rights, including the rights of indigenous communities, languages, and migrants. North, Central, and South America are historically, culturally, legally, and socially deeply intertwined, a fundamental assumption of this Duke Immerse course.

Rights & Identities in the Americas takes an interdisciplinary, integrated look at the history of human rights in the Americas, civil rights, and indigenous rights through the lens of language and culture, and connections between the state, family, gender, and immigration.

The program examines these issues on the ground in North Carolina, where Prof. Liliana Paredes and Prof. Kirk are conducting ongoing research. Students meet with and interview indigenous immigrant families who have settled in Durham, then visit the “feeder towns” in Mexico where these families came from and still maintain close ties. Students will also consider how the history of violence is represented and discussed in contemporary life, including through museums and monuments. This paired focus will allow students to see rights questions “at home” while at the same time linking them to transnational issues and processes that are reshaping the relationship between North and South America.

During the semester we plan overnight trips to Montgomery and Selma, Alabama; Atlanta, Georgia; and the Siler City area in North Carolina. Time permitting, we may also take a weekend trip to Washington, DC to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Museum of the American Indian.

Rights & Identities in the Americas draws on the expertise of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS), the Duke Human Rights Archive in the Rubenstein Library, and the Duke Human Rights Center @ the Franklin Humanities Institute.

Participants are required to pay a program fee of $1,000 in addition to regular Duke tuition, fees, and room and board. This fee covers all program costs, including airfare. Financial aid packages may be used to cover these costs; if you have any question or concern as to whether financial aid will be able to cover this for you, please reach out to the Karsh Financial Support Office directly (finaid@duke.edu); they are familiar with Duke Immerse and can answer your questions. 

Students accepted into Rights & Identities in the Americas will receive the permission numbers needed to enroll in this set of Duke Immerse courses. Enrolled students must take the four courses outlined below. Overloading is acceptable with the permission of all instructors; no underload is permitted. One Duke semester course credit is equivalent to four semester hours.

  • Human Rights in the Americas
  • Linguistic Human Rights in the Americas
  • Engaging with foundational texts: evolution of rights thinking in the Americas
  • Research in Human Rights

Liliana Parades

Professor of the Practice of Spanish, Director of Undergraduate Studies (Spanish and Portuguese) Department of Romance Studies and Linguistics

Robin Kirk

Faculty Co-Chair of the Duke Human Rights Center @ the Franklin Humanities Institute; Professor of the Practice in Cultural Anthropology

Melissa A. Simmermeyer

Senior Lecturer, Assistant Director Spanish Language Program, Department of Romance Studies

All students who are interested, regardless of documentation or citizenship status, are encouraged to apply; accommodations and opportunities will be made for students who are unable to travel. We welcome Durham-based DKU students and UNC Robertson Scholars to apply. Please email Duke Immerse director (immerse@duke.edu) if you are interested in participating. Complete the online application using MyExperientialEd.

For more information, email Robin Kirk (rights@duke.edu) or visit https://immerse.duke.edu/rights-identities-in-the-americas/.


I got to learn so, so much about the history of Latin America and human rights, sociolinguistic critical analysis, how to conduct an interview, and even to how to navigate another country! I would recommend this program to any Duke student.

Jennifer Acosta ’17