Faculty Highlight: Noura Erakat

Faculty Highlight: Noura Erakat Image

For Professor Noura Erakat, New Century College’s newest faculty member, teaching undergraduates brings another dimension to her career as a lawyer, educator and human rights advocate. This fall, Erakat will help her students navigate the difficult topics covered in her two courses, NCLC 300 Law and Justice and NCLC 375 International Human Rights, Law and the Middle East.

Erakat has had a diverse range of professional experiences. She has served as legal counsel to the House of Representatives Oversight Committee and taught international human rights law at Georgetown University. At Temple University, she taught international human rights law, legal research and writing and national security law. She is also co-founder of Jadaliyya, an electronic magazine that provides analysis combining scholarship, advocacy and local knowledge of the Middle East. Erakat is a human rights advocate and specialist in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Erakat’s varied professional experiences have helped develop her teaching style and classroom goals. Her experiences as a lawyer and human rights advocate have also shaped her perspectives on the use and function of the law. Erakat encourages her students to question the law and question how it is used.

Erakat said, “[I want students to] question the basic premise of law as a tool for legal redress. We have this idea that law can fix the problem, when really, law can be part of the problem…I also want them to consider how the law is used. How is it applied to issues of justice? To civil rights? To poverty?”

Erakat encourages students to leave any pre-conceived ideas outside the classroom and approach all topics with an open mind. Ultimately, she wants her students to think critically and consider all sides of an issue.

According to Erakat, part of learning is questioning. She advised, “Ask really good questions. A student doesn’t need to be an expert to be able to speak or to question. They should trust their intuition and let their own moral code be their guide.”

Through her own personal experiences and study of human rights issues, Erakat believes that students’ opinions and actions can make an impact. She encourages students to explore different themes and interests while they are in college. She said, “Take advantage of your time as a college student. Students can be agents of transformative change. Look at places like Chile, South Africa, India, the Philippines. Students were critical to change in these places. This is the time you can take risks. Start locally, your local action can make change that will spread far and wide.”

Erakat looks forward to furthering her own research and writing and values NCC’s interdisciplinary foundation. In addition to teaching two undergraduate classes and contributing to Jadaliyya, Erakat will continue to research and present in the areas of international human rights law, with a special expertise in the Middle East.