This interview was conducted over email with Jordan Diamond, a student enrolled in the Human Rights Certificate Program, by Zac Johnson, a third-year undergraduate student working for the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute. Jordan is earning a major in English with certificates in Human Rights and Jewish Studies.

Zac Johnson (ZJ): Why did you decide to pursue the Human Rights Certificate?

Jordan Diamond (JD): I decided to pursue the Human Rights Certificate because I was looking for a different way to contextualize my studies of literature and Jewish history, especially with regards to the Holocaust. Studying race and nationalisms in my human rights courses has allowed me to approach this history with a much more complete understanding, and has introduced me to a lot of other contemporary discussions of human rights abuses.

ZJ: What makes this certificate unique from other programs at Duke?

JD: The Human Rights Certificate is so unique because it is so interdisciplinary, and students can develop their own sequences of courses to reflect their interests. As mentioned, I was excited to study the Holocaust in more depth, which I was able to do at Duke and while I studied in Denmark. I was also able to explore some topics I was less familiar with before coming to Duke, including sex work and the international development of race.

ZJ: How has the multidisciplinary, experiential nature of the program affected your learning while in the certificate?

JD: The multidisciplinary and experiential nature of the program has allowed me to consider the real-world ways in which human rights are discussed and addressed. In the introductory course, we wrote op-eds for our final assignment rather than research papers because the ability to demonstrate abuses and communicate solutions is an important way in which human rights are discussed in our society. I’m grateful that this program has introduced me to important rhetoric strategies alongside its content lessons.

ZJ: How do you plan to use the information and experiences you’re gaining from the certificate after you graduate?

JD: I don’t have any solid post-graduation plans yet, but I hope to take the lessons I’ve gained from this certificate program as I continue studying and writing. The program has also directed me to new interests that I hope to engage with further by reading more about and working to address.

ZJ: What has been the most impactful moment (lecture, activity, reading, professor, etc) you’ve gained from the program?

JD: The Human Rights Certificate program empowered me to study human rights outside of Duke’s educational environment. While I was studying abroad in Denmark, I took a course on prostitution and the sex trade in Europe, and our course took a study trip to Amsterdam to meet with sex workers. Speaking with these workers and hearing their stories, outside of our traditional academic environment, helped me realize both the power and limitations of academia to study human rights and advocate for human rights.

ZJ: How has the Human Rights Certificate shaped your life outside of academic and professional settings?

JD: The Human Rights Certificate has made me a more critical thinker, better able to approach history and the modern world with a lens toward equity, justice, and the structures and interests that prevent those ideals from being realized. I know that this critical mindset will be useful in my future academic work and life in general.