The university has broadened the institutional
framework of the Duke Human Rights
Center to capitalize on the strengths of two of Duke's signature institutes
and to make the center's work available to broader audiences.
The center is also now being funded jointly by the two
institutes and the office of the vice provost for interdisciplinary studies. Robin Kirk, an expert on human rights
who has led the center since its creation four years ago, will serve as its program
"The change builds on the vitality the center has
established over recent years while expanding its range of ambition and
possibility," said Ian Baucom, who directs the Franklin Humanities
Institute and serves as one of the center's three co-directors. "The new
partnership between the Kenan Institute, the office of the vice provost and the
FHI broadens its scope and allows for greater a deepening of the engagement of by
students in the crucial experience of understanding and
changing the world."
The center aims
to lead university-wide scholarly conversations, programs and collaborations on
human rights by leveraging the expertise of faculty in a variety of fields,
said Suzanne Shanahan, a sociology professor who also serves as a center
co-director along with Laurence Helfer, a professor at Duke Law School.
"We hope to bring law, social science and public policy
together with the humanities and ethics," Shanahan said. "There will
be more and different people at the table. This represents a much larger and
more significant intellectual engagement in human rights."
Already this semester, the center has co-sponsored a visit
by Edwin Cameron, a South African constitutional court justice. It is also
presenting a "What is Human Rights?" dinner seminar series, bringing
in a visiting fellow, sponsoring a one-day conference on the history of human
rights, hosting a workshop on institutional changes in human rights and
continuing to criticize human rights abuses wherever they may happen in around the