MHR Alum Promotes Child Rights Across the Globe
As the Human Rights Program begins to celebrate our program's 20th anniversary, we are looking at the incredible impacts our alum are making in the world today. To begin, we are celebrating the achievements of Katie Burke, Master of Human Rights program (MHR '20) alumna with a concentration in Child Rights. Katie was a Fulbright grantee from Scotland, and she currently works in the UK on children’s rights issues. Learn more about Katie’s life “post-MHR” below!
Lifelong advocacy comes to mind when diving into the accomplishments of MHR alum Katie Burke. The Scottish native joined the MHR program in 2018 with an impressive resume which included chairing the Scottish Youth Parliament board and working with the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in Geneva. She had even been featured as one of the Young Women's Movements ‘30 most Inspiring Scots Women under 30’!
In her time with the MHR Program, Katie concentrated in gender and children's rights. Midway through her MHR journey, Katie interned for Together: The Scottish Alliance for Children's Rights, which allowed her to gain experience completing a substantial piece of children's rights research from start to finish. In this time, she co-authored the Scottish State of Children's Rights Report 2019 and worked with over 50 NGOs to compile research on a huge variety of children's rights issues, from violence against children to educational inequality. Katie was inspired by her wonderful colleagues at Together who work to make children's rights a reality in Scotland. Her time there really cemented her passion for children's rights and served as a springboard for her work post-graduation.
After graduating from the MHR program, Katie knew she wanted to find a job that would allow her to put the interviewing skills and human rights knowledge that she had learned within the program into practice, and she wanted to do so at the international level. She started looking at organizations that worked to meaningfully include the voices and experiences of children and young people in their work and came across her current position as a Research Assistant at Coram International.
Coram International is a children's rights consultancy firm based in London, UK that works with international organisations such as UNICEF and governments across the globe on issues of child protection, gender based violence and juvenile justice. Despite the realities of COVID-19 limiting her to remote work, Katie has accomplished her international goal and is currently involved with numerous projects across the globe. In the short six months she has worked with Coram, Katie has participated in projects within Kazakhstan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Mongolia, Nigeria. Working on a small team of ten individuals, Katie’s work varies tremendously from day to day; she can be doing anything from conducting zoom interviews in Mongolia, to working on drafts of countries’ latest Child Protection law, or delivering training to Government agencies.
Katie cites the MHR program as having equipped her with the qualitative interviewing skills and legal knowledge needed to work as a children's rights researcher. Additionally, the community of MHR students during her two years at the University of Minnesota taught her the value of knowing her positionality as a researcher, and the value of having meaningful conversations on a day to day basis about the ethical dilemmas of human rights work.
Katie is loving her current work and doesn’t have plans to change anytime soon. Going forward, she is interested in exploring children's participation more, perhaps in the context of a PhD. She’s additionally passionate about advocacy work and plans to get more involved in activism, particularly as Scotland plans to be amongst the first countries in the world to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into its domestic law in the next year!