Commencement may have passed, but I’m still receiving a few long-promised posts from students and newly-minted alumni. In the category of “Cool Stuff Students Do” comes this description of a new initiative, the Human Rights Practicum.
Hi Admissions Blog readers! We, Amy Tan (MALD 2014) and Luca Urech (MALD 2014), are here to tell you a little bit about human rights activities at Fletcher. For about a year, we have been co-presidents of the Human Rights Project, Fletcher’s student human rights group, and we used our time here at Fletcher to launch a new initiative called the Human Rights Practicum. To provide you with information about the Practicum, we thought to share a short Q&A. If you have follow-up questions, we are happy to continue the conversation in the Blog’s comment section!
What is the Human Rights Practicum?
The Human Rights Practicum is a platform at Fletcher through which students can work with human rights practitioners on substantive, live projects. The Practicum complements the Fletcher student experience with a strong practical component in the field of human rights. The Practicum has grown since its establishment in September 2013, and currently consists of five different projects. In these projects, more than a dozen Fletcher students are working under the supervision of three law professors (Professors Louis Aucoin, John Cerone, and Hurst Hannum) on topics ranging from crafting a policy paper on R2P and Syria for a Geneva-based NGO, to conducting ongoing research on the Universal Periodic Review for the United Nations Special Rapporteur on minority issues.
Where did the Human Rights Practicum come from?
We might be biased here, but we believe that Fletcher students offer a wealth of experience, expertise, and enthusiasm to make a human rights impact that we considered to be a source of great untapped potential. With this in mind, during the summer of 2013, while Amy was at The Hague Institute for Global Justice in The Netherlands and Luca was with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Tunisia, we put together a concept note for an initiative that would leverage Fletcher’s skills and energy for human rights impact. We sent the note to our professors and they were immediately supportive, offering their guidance and their contacts to set up projects with students.
What is the Practicum up to now?
As the spring semester here at Fletcher came to an end, our student teams also finished up their Practicum projects. While polishing reports and doing final research, everyone here was already looking forward to seeing the impact that their work will have. The Special Rapporteur on minority issues, for example, will transmit the research to which the Fletcher students contributed to the Member States of the UN Human Rights Council and has found significant state interest in the work. Another project partner will leverage a report analyzing transitional justice issues produced by Fletcher students as a basis to lobby policymakers in Washington D.C. It is satisfying to see our work transcending the world of academia and making a real-impact in politics and diplomacy.
What is the future of the Practicum?
As we have just graduated from Fletcher, we have looked for motivated first-year students who can ensure the continuation of the Practicum. Fortunately, three very dedicated students, Kathryn Joyce, Roxana Mullafiroze, and Sarah Collman (all MALD 2015 and former Practicum participants), have stepped up to the plate to continue providing Fletcher students with exciting opportunities to engage in human rights work. At the same time, we have worked closely with the School’s administration to develop a plan that would allow the Practicum to become an important part of what we do at Fletcher. We hope that by building on the foundation established this year, the Practicum will continue to prosper and become an integral part of the Fletcher experience for students interested in human rights.