Humanitarian Challenges: Borders, Environments, and Rights is a cluster of four courses offered through Duke’s Focus Program. Designed for first-year students, the mission of Focus is to integrate learning experiences across academic disciplines and opportunities to venture beyond Duke’s campus into the community (such as field trips, travel, community service). Enrollment is open ONLY to students accepted to the Focus Program: see full details at the Focus website.
Humanitarian Challenges examines human rights in geographical contexts where desperate people cross borders and confront harsh conditions in places of refuge. Among the shared themes that link our courses are: the potential of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to harm as well as help fragile populations; the role of cross-cultural understanding in post-conflict situations; immigration debates in the USA and elsewhere; the potential for creative initiatives to inspire change; and interactions between refugees and the environments of host nations.
Drawing on the humanities and social sciences, we will identify sources of conflict as well as resources for reconciliation. Starting at the microcosmic level, we ask how ethnic and religious conflicts became institutionalized at particular sites by studying musical traditions, immigration law, prisons, climate-induced disasters, income disparity, and resource wealth or scarcity. Literary works deepen our appreciation of activists’ and survivors’ courage. Toolkits from demography and epidemiology reveal underlying structural causes of humanitarian crises. Environmental science provides information about the fixed and variable components of sustainable human security.
We approach global problems from “the ground up,” beginning with individuals in particular situations, for example, street rappers, child soldiers, prisoners, sexual minorities, ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement) detainees, migrant farm workers, and NGO aid workers. On the basis of particular case studies, we ask what ethical and philosophical ideals should guide initiatives designed to help the millions of humans claim their human rights.
The 2013-14 Humanitarian Challenges Focus cluster includes the following seminars. For full descriptions, please visit the Focus program website here.
Cultural Anthropology 190FS.01
Breaking Sound Barriers: Musical Mediation in Divided Territories (ALP, CCI, EI, SS)
Ingrid Byerly, Senior Lecturing Fellow, Department of Cultural Anthropology
History 190FS.01/Environmental Sciences & Policy Program 190FS
Drought & Cross Border Crisis (CZ, SS, CCI, EI, STS)
Claudia Koonz, Professor and Peabody Family Chair, Department of History
Erika Weinthal, Associate Professor of Environmental Policy
Public Policy 190FS.01/CulAnth 190FS.03
Border-Crossing/International Law and Global Health (SS,CCI,EI)
Catherine Admay, Visiting Professor of Public Policy, Duke Center for International Development
Documentary Studies 153FS
The U.S./Mexico Border (CCI, CZ, EI, SS)
Charlie Thompson, Curriculum and Education Director, Center for Documentary Studies