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Grad Student Takes Interdisciplinary Approach to Human Rights

Rachel Goodman, a master’s candidate at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies who's also pursuing a graduate certificate in religious studies, seeks to change how people think about a country's “development.”

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Rachel Goodman

Rachel Goodman, a master's candidate at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, seeks to change how people think about a country's "development." Since undergrad, Goodman has sought avenues for change that put research into real-world practice.

"I realized that I would not be satisfied conducting research unless it could be used to effect positive change in some way. It was then that I decided to pursue a career in international development, which ultimately led me to Korbel."

Goodman's approach is interdisciplinary. "In the real world, topics are inextricably linked, so why should they not also be linked in academic research?" she asks. As Goodman pursues her degree, she's also specializing in Religious Studies to bring together conversations across fields.

Goodman's interdisciplinary methods and real-world application have led her to several major opportunities. In April, she was honored with an award for best paper at the Students for Africa Sustainable Development Conference at DU. Her paper drew on research from religious studies, economics and political science.

"I had the privilege of serving as a presenter and panelist for a discussion about security in Africa and its relation to development. The paper that I presented focused specifically on the link between development issues in Nigeria and the rise of the Boko Haram terrorist group."

Goodman is currently a research assistant at DU's Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy. She's helping create a database about Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programs, which demobilize combatants and reintegrate them into society in post-conflict contexts.

"Not only has this research assistantship allowed me to learn a great deal about DDR in many countries, it has also allowed me to understand more fully how academic research can be used to improve practices on the ground."

When she's not at the Sié Center, Goodman is working at the Center for Human Rights Education (COHRE) at Korbel. This graduate-run research center has provided Goodman with the freedom to pursue her own research interests and regularly publish and share her work on COHRE's human rights blog. "Working with my fellow teammates at COHRE has been hands-down the best part of attending DU," Goodman says.

As Goodman pursues her degree, she's set significant goals for the impact of her work. "I want to push people to question what it means to be 'developed' and how we measure this. If the development field is to advance and truly make the positive impact it aspires to make, practitioners and academics alike will need to reconfigure their understanding of the concept itself."

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