Dallin S Durtschi shares his experience as a student in the Human Rights Studies M.A. Program so far.
In which program are you enrolled and when is your expected graduation date?
Human Rights Studies MA, 2022
What is your research focus in the HRSMA program?
My concentration within the program is the intersection between visual arts and human rights. Besides activism and politics, I am most passionate about art, so looking at visual depictions of suffering through a human rights lens felt like a natural progression. Whether it be painting or cinema, art has a powerful ability to make human rights feel human.
Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in beautiful, rural Idaho, not far from the Grand Teton. After growing up in Idaho Falls, I lived in Los Angeles, Kyiv and Odesa, Ukraine, and Utah. I have found my experience living in big cities such as Los Angeles, Kyiv, and New York combined with my time in small-town, conservative America to be invaluable in my attempts to develop an attitude of understanding and empathy for a wide variety of people.
What is a must-read for a human rights student?
Dostoevsky! His words fill me with resolve to do something about the problems so many face, not only in 1800s Russia, but today all around the world.
Can you describe any volunteer or extracurricular activities that you have been a part of during your time at Columbia and how this experience has impacted you?
The most enjoyable activity I have experienced while here at Columbia has been joining the RightsViews team as a staff writer. I really enjoy thinking about what topics I want to explore and having the flexibility to bring creativity to human rights research.
What is your favorite spot to study or spend time on campus?
For a more laid back place where you can talk, I suggest the GSAS student lounge in Philosophy Hall. If I need to get a lot done, I go to the basement cubicles of Avery Library. I try to stay away from Butler Library when I have a lot of work, because that place stresses me out!
What is one thing that your peers would never guess about you or might find surprising?
Growing up, I had a pet peacock named Richard!
What is your hometown/area famous for?
Potatoes... Famous Idaho Potatoes.