|LINKING LEARNING WITH ACTION
Overview: This activity provides
opportunities for students to integrate academic learning with human rights
activism, offering them a chance to translate an increased human rights
awareness and concern into effective action. It links the local with the
If an activity of this sort were
to become a school service-learning project undertaken annually, it would
exemplify an institutional commitment to the achievement of human rights.
Furthermore it would make a statement to students as well as to the larger
community about the importance of integrating theory and practice.
To become knowledgeable about human
rights conditions, both locally and globally
To conduct research into the activities
of human rights organizations in students' own communities and elsewhere
To translate personal concern into effective
human rights action
To analyze and report on a field experience
1. Read the following quotation by
Eleanor Roosevelt, Chair of the United Nations Human Rights Commission
which created the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), to students:
2. Begin this activity by having your
students identify local or global problems that concern them (such as homelessness,
hunger, child abuse, land mines, or violence against women). List them
and then try to determine which specific human rights in the UDHR address
them (for example, homelessness and hunger are addressed by UDHR Article
25, which guarantees an adequate standard of living). This activity might
be an extension of a previous study or a new activity.
Where, after all, do universal
rights begin? In places, close to home--so close and so small that they
cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the
individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college
he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places
where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity,
equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have. meaning
there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action
to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the
Eleanor Roosevelt, The Great Question, New York: United Nations,
3. Have the class select three or
four human rights concerns on which to focus. Divide the students into
teams to research the topics.
4. Have each team draw on the research
questions below as well as generating their own:
5. Each team will then research its
selected human rights issue. Some may conduct a survey in their communities
to determine the extent of the problem and what governmental and non-governmental
organizations are doing to address it. Others might gather data through
library research or on the World Wide Web.
What is the problem as you see it? Try
to define it in your own terms.
How does the problem manifest itself
locally? Nationally? Globally?
Which specific rights are involved?
Identify the relevant articles of the Bill of Rights and the UDHR.
Where does responsibility lie for the
perpetration and perpetuation of this violation?
Who benefits directly or indirectly
as a result of this violation?
Who suffers directly or indirectly as
a result of this violation?
Are other individuals or groups working
on this issue?
What is being done locally, nationally,
and/or globally to address this issue?
Where does responsibility lie for addressing
What might the students do to help in
their community or in a larger context?
6. After discussing their findings,
have students decide which human rights problem they wish to adopt as a
class project. Brain storm ways in which they can become involved and begin
to develop a plan of action. December 10, which is Human Rights Day, might
be designated as class project decision day.
7. During the remainder of the year,
have students develop and implement an action plan that addresses the chosen
human rights problem. They can do this through activities such as educating
the school and the larger community through posters, plays, assemblies,
newspaper articles, demonstrations. They can also engage in letter-writing
campaigns, lobbying government officials and elected representatives, raising
funds to support local and global relief and development agencies, and
offering volunteer services to local or international organizations.
These activities can easily be connected to the students' academic work.
Students can accomplish this by conducting research and recording, analyzing,
and sharing their experiences through class presentations and written reports.
There are also many opportunities for students to express themselves through
art, video, music, and drama.
An alternative approach to community
action involves having the students focus on issues within their own school.
This helps students identify conditions that need improvement in their
school and provides a framework for action. See the activity, "Taking the
Human Rights Temperature of Your School."
From ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL
JUSTICE – David A. Shiman © 1999
To order copies of
and Social Justice: A Human Rights Perspective, contact:
Human Rights Resource
University of Minnesota
229 - 19th Avenue
South, Room 439
Minneapolis, MN 55455
© 1999, Center
for Teaching International Relations
Graduate School of
International Studies, University of Denver
Denver, CO 80208
. . helping teachers improve their understanding of multicultural and global
issues since 1974
for World Education
539 Waterman Building
University of Vermont
Burlington, Vermont 05405