Currently viewing the tag: "Human Rights Practicum"

Some weeks ago, a blog reader named Rumal asked me if I would pull together some information about offerings in Human Rights study at Fletcher.  I’m always happy to run with a good suggestion, but I knew it would require some research.  Fortunately for me, the Admissions Office front desk has received well-educated staffing from a job-hunting new graduate, Rafael.  I asked Rafael to do some digging, and here’s what he reports.

Fletcher’s interdisciplinary curriculum allows students to develop an integrated understanding of global challenges.  For a school of law and diplomacy, though, few issues are as central to the curriculum as international human rights.  Accordingly, there are several courses, most of them offered within Fletcher’s International Law and Organizations Division, which approaches human rights from an international law perspective.  (For students in the LLM program, Human Rights Law and International Justice is one of the four curricular options from which they may choose, if they wish.)

Among our law faculty, Hurst Hannum, Professor of International Law, offered courses in International Human Rights Law, Current Issues in Human Rights, and Nationalism, Self-Determination and Minority Rights during the past academic year.  Students also took courses in International Criminal Justice, Transitional Justice, and International Humanitarian Law, taught by Fletcher professors Cecile Aptel and John Cerone.  In addition, most of our professors are not only teachers, but also scholars and, at times, advisors to organizations such as the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or Amnesty International, so that students are exposed to cutting-edge research and real-world experience.

In addition to courses that explicitly deal with international human rights, seminars that are primarily concerned with other issues often allow students to produce research papers or policy papers in which they can combine multiple areas of interest.  In Memory Politics: Truth, Justice, and Redress, for example, students trace the expansion of, and challenges to, the regime of human rights and international law by focusing on case studies such as Rwanda, South Africa, Colombia, Guatemala, and Peru.  Law and Development, too, requires students to produce a research paper on any one aspect of the emerging field of international development law.  Questions of distributive justice, the rule of law, and informal justice systems are not only of considerable importance to social and economic development, but also important components of the contemporary human rights discourse.

Another opportunity for Fletcher students to follow their interests and develop expertise in a particular area is the Capstone Project, which can be a traditional academic thesis or can take an entirely different form, like a business plan, policy memo, or podcast.  Recent graduates passionate about human rights have researched and written on the negotiation for an international treaty on business and human rights, the role of the international private legal sector in contributing to rule of law, development, access to justice and human rights in the developing world, and child victims of armed conflict.

Following their Fletcher experience, recent graduates have worked for organizations including The Malala Fund, the U.S. Institute for Peace, and the UN, as well as government agencies across the world.

Thanks, Rafael!  By fortunate coincidence, after Rafael had written up his report, we heard from a recent graduate who was active in the Human Rights field, and she offered to add her thoughts on the Human Rights Project, a student organization.  Here’s Natalie’s description of her out-of-the-classroom activities.

The Human Rights Project (HRP) is entirely student run and has two components: public events and a research platform, the Practicum, through which HRP distinguishes itself from other student groups.  The Practicum serves as a collaborative place for research and multidisciplinary projects that are actionable and forward-looking; we work for a variety of clients outside of Tufts — we juggled five projects this year alone with a variety of organizations and research topics such as hate speech, minority rights, CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women), Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 2030), and R2P (Responsibility to Protect).  It’s an inclusive place for students to hone practical skills in research design, teamwork, and project management.  Professor Hannum and Professor Cerone have been the gatekeepers, but will pass the torch to our new human rights professor in the of Fall 2017.

The work requires brain power and teamwork, so every semester HRP looks for incoming students who are critical thinkers and passionate about the future of human rights.  If you are interested in being a leader or member, visit our website for more information to learn how you can get involved.

My thanks to Rafael and Natalie for their perspective on Human Rights study at Fletcher!  As my final word, I’ll refer you to a 2014 Admissions Blog post about the origins of the Human Rights Practicum, which I rediscovered while putting the finishing touches on today’s post.

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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. 

Amy Tan and Luca UrechHi 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.

HRP Group Photo

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