Six stories by students writing about human rights

Why do we turn to writing as a response to injustice? What form of writing can best convey our story to a stranger? And how should ethical and political sensitivities shape the stories we tell?

Students examine these ideas in a teaching programme led by the editors of Lacuna, encouraging newer writers to find and produce their own creative responses to injustice.

In Writing Human Rights, undergraduate students have free rein to choose the subject and style of their stories.

So far, students have written pieces of investigative journalism, short fictional stories, sci-fi, screenplays, comment pieces, podcast episodes, TED talks, poetry and life writing.

The interdisciplinary module welcomes students from law, English, creative writing and across the social sciences to focus on a different theme each week.

We examine the nature of truth, asking what evidence we can accept and whether objectivity is possible – or even desirable. We consider the use of images and the ethical implications of telling stories about the suffering of others.

Weekly readings come from writers around the world, including journalists, novelists, screenwriters, and bloggers. Students critique writing about conflicts, the climate crisis, and important political movements including Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, and consider these themes in the context of international human rights ideas.

They also have the opportunity to hone their own writing skills through impromptu writing exercises in seminars and homework assignments, trying their hand at writing dialogue, detailed description and writing from unusual perspectives.

We have worked with students to develop the best examples of their writing and publish them on Lacuna. Below is a sample of these stories, on a range of subjects and in a variety of styles.