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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Heller Faculty Notes

Youth experiences abroad inspire human rights work

Angela Duger sees passion, creativity as key to a career in human rights

An expert in human rights law, Angela Duger works for the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights at the Harvard School of Public Health. She holds a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law and teaches a module on human rights-based approaches to development in Heller's MA-SID program.

What was your first impression of Heller?  

I was extremely impressed by the sheer amount of diversity and passion present within Heller.  It’s so much easier to teach students who genuinely want to use the knowledge they gain in the classroom. This type of passion and commitment to social justice creates a bond unique to Heller.

Can you speak of a challenging situation you’ve found yourself in while working abroad?

I was in in Africa working with a local law firm. I wanted to observe a trial. We arrived on the particular day of the trial to discover that no one had bothered to show up, not the judge or attorneys. I was told that this was completely normal and the court date would be rescheduled. This happened on three consecutive occasions! I never did get the opportunity to witness a local trial.

Was there a moment or event in your life that led you to specialize in human rights?

When I was 16, I had the opportunity to go on a youth exchange through Rotary International to Bolivia.  I happened to have been there in Cochabamba, during the protests of water privatization. While in Bolivia I saw poverty on a daily basis, but the water riots were so vocal and widely publicized that I started asking [myself] questions: How did I feel about what was going on? What was my responsibility to help? Did I even have one? I would say that was a moment in my life that stood as a directive factor in my career selection.

Give a word of advice for someone who wants to have a career in human rights. 

Be passionate and be creative. There are many different routes you can take if you are interested in human rights. Major organizations such as Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International, which focus on human rights advocacy and research, are always popular options. You could also go to law school such as I did or start your own advocacy NGO!  

Knowledge Advancing Social Justice