New Human Rights Journal Showcases Undergraduate Work

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UC Davis undergraduates are fired up about human rights. Making the Case, a new human rights journal edited, managed, and published by undergraduate students, released its inaugural issue in January 2012. Funded by the Davis Sunrise Rotary Club, the first issue includes scholarly essays from across the disciplines as well as poetry, fiction, and photography.

“The journal is an outgrowth of tremendous student interest in the question of human rights and is an example of the creativity, ingenuity, research excellence and professionalism of our students,” said Professor Keith David Watenpaugh, creator and director of the Human Rights Initiative and advisor to the new Interdisciplinary Minor in Human Rights.

Many of the students involved with the journal are also taking part in the human rights minor. Watenpaugh emphasized that the journal was wholly driven by student interest and student work. Every step, including publicizing the call for papers, creating an editorial team, reviewing and editing contributions, assembling the content, and working with printers, was performed by the student staff. Victoria Martin, 2011-2012 co-editor called the process “a labor of love.”

Co-editor Megha Bhatt hopes that the journal encourages UCD students “to think creatively and critically about how human rights affect their daily lives.” Articles in the journal ask difficult questions about the nature and boundaries of human rights. Focusing on specific cases such as Turkish-Kurdish instability and misconceptions surrounding the term “berdache” as a way to characterize non-heterosexual gender identities in Native American communities, the works in the first issue reflect perspectives from disciplines as diverse as English, Anthropology, Evolution and Ecology, History, Political Science, and International Relations.

Assembling the journal was a challenging and rewarding task, said Rachel Pevsner, 2011-2012 managing editor and 2012-2013 editor-in-chief. “Aside from seeing the finished product, which felt like a remarkable accomplishment, one of the biggest highlights for me was getting to read all of the different submissions that students put together. It's exciting to read such lively debate, expression, and thought on a variety of intriguing subjects, and it's truly an honor to be able to choose and compile the best among them.” According to Martin, reading student submissions helped her to realize that her generation is “full of people who have a desire to make this world a more just place.” And that, said Martin, “is terribly exciting.”

Work is currently underway on the second issue, which Pevsner hopes to release in Fall 2012. Students interested in working on future editions of the journal should contact humanrightsjournalucd@gmail.com.

For more information on the Human Rights minor, please see: http://humanrightsminor.ucdavis.edu/.

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