This interview was conducted over email with Alexandra Wisner, a senior undergraduate student enrolled in the Human Rights Certificate Program, by Kyra Josephson, senior undergraduate student, majoring in History and working for the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute.

Kyra Josephson (KJ): How did you decide that you wanted to study human rights or pursue the human rights certificate?

Alexandra Wisner (AW): In my abroad program I was able to travel to Vietnam, Morocco and Bolivia studying the impacts of Climate Change on the politics of food, water and energy use.  What I believed would be a program looking at the natural impacts of resource use and climate change turned into a heavily human rights-centric program.  It opened my eyes to the convergence of these two issues and is what prompted me to pursue the human rights certificate.

KJ: Do you have specific human rights interests?

AW: Within human rights, I am especially interested in the environmental justice movement. More specifically, I am focused on the undue impact that climate change is having on marginalized communities worldwide. 

KJ: Are you interested in pursuing a career in human rights after graduation? If so, how has the certificate prepared you?

AW: While human rights are not exactly the careers I am looking towards, human rights are implicit in all of the work I will do in the environmental movement.  These two issues are nearly inextricable in many cases of human rights violations of environmental pollution.  The certificate has helped me to become versed in the humanitarian side of many environmental issues I have only learned about through a nature-centric lens. 

KJ: Is there an event, course, or project related to human rights that has shaped your time at Duke or future plans?

AW: A few summers ago, I had the opportunity to go to the Ecuadorian Amazon and work for three months with the Waorani tribe on cultural preservation.  This group currently faces environmental degradation and risks to their ways of life from multinational oil companies.  This project entirely shaped my time at Duke and I am now hopeful to work in the future on indigenous rights within the environmental movement.  This work also taught me more on the ground than any course ever could on the true importance of human rights today.