This activity links the local and the global. For educational
institutions, it might become a service-learning project.
Such a project would exemplify an institutional commitment
to the achievement of human rights. Furthermore it would
make a statement to students and community about the importance
of integrating theory and practice.
a school setting, this activity can be directly tied to
the development of academic skills: conducting research,
interviewing, recording, analyzing data, sharing information,
and writing reports. Art, video, music, and drama can also
be effective vehicles for action projects.
Begin by having participants identify local or global problems
that concern them (e.g., homelessness, hunger, child abuse,
land mines, violence against women). List these and then
try to define the issues in terms of specific human rights
(e.g., homelessness and hunger involve UDHR Article 25,
which guarantees the right to an adequate standard of living).
Note: This activity might be an extension of previous study
or a totally new activity.
Have the group select 3 or 4 of these human rights issues
to focus on. Divide participants into teams to research
Have each team draw on the research questions presented
below in addition to generating their own:
What is the problem as you see it? Try to define it in
your own words.
How does the problem manifest itself locally? Nationally?
What specific rights are involved? Identify the relevant
articles of the US 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
Who suffers as directly or indirectly as a result of this
Are other individuals or groups working on this issue?
What is being done locally, nationally, and globally to
address this issue?
Where does responsibility lie for addressing this issue?
What might participants do to help in their community
or in a larger context?
Each team will then research its human rights issue. Some
team members will survey the community to determine the
extent of the problem locally and what governmental
and nongovernmental organizations are doing
to address it; others will gather the same sorts of data
on the global conditions using a variety of resources, including
libraries and the World Wide Web.
After discussing their findings, participants decide which
human rights problem(s) they wish to adopt as an action
project. The whole group might work on one issue or small
groups may develop their separate projects.
During the remainder of the school year or project period,
participants develop and implement an action plan that addresses
the human rights problem through activities such as educating
school and community via posters, plays, assemblies, public
access television, newspaper articles, demonstrations, letter-writing
campaigns. Fund raising, offering volunteer services, and
lobbying government officials and elected representatives
are also effective strategies.
Adapted from David Shiman, Teaching
Human Rights (Denver: Center for
Teaching International Relations
Publications, U of Denver, 1993)