No matter how one defines "community"family, neighborhood, classroom, school, workplace, town, nation, or other associationone must recognize the role of community in the learning process. To facilitate a "Human Rights Learning Community," everyone must recognize that each participant has his/her own identity as well as a collective identity of learning together about human rights and responsibilities. How can we build community? More specifically, how can we create a community which focuses on education "directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms" (excerpted from Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)?
The Need for CommunityA Common Vision and Language
Whether one focuses on a school, town, or other association, each has similar needs of creating a place where every member can learn, feel valued and safe, and connect with others. Schools have been challenged by multiple initiatives placed one upon another (e.g., safe schools, peace schools, literacy projects, educational standards). Towns have witnessed the same separation of issue-based initiatives (e.g., fair housing projects, domestic violence centers, food shelves, immigration and refugee services). However, in both community settings, the unifying overlap is a human rights framework. Whether a community is working on assuring peace and security, housing, education, or food, that community must understand the interdependence and universality of all their needs as human rights. Reclaiming our human rights enables us to share a common vision, speak the same language, and practice responsible actions toward one another.
The Practice for Human Rights Learning Communities
Human Rights Learning Communities aim to promote and enhance effective leadership and responsible action for the realization of human rights. Human Rights Learning Communities should also support and strengthen the personal and professional development of the facilitators and the participants. The Human Rights Learning Community Wheel provides eight characteristics of ways each member of society should act in community to encourage inspiration, exploration, creation, collaboration, and transformation.
The Human Rights Learning Community Wheel
A Human Rights Learning Community includes both individual and collective learning and practices. The following eight characteristics in the Human Rights Learning Community Wheel are interdependent components for nurturing one's creative individual and community spirit. These components aid facilitators and participants to challenge themselves and the other community members to identify what inspires their action and inaction. However, these eight components are not exhaustive: your own community may choose to add others. The characteristics are not presented in any specific order, since all aspects are of equal importance.
THE HUMAN RIGHTS LEARNING COMMUNITY WHEEL
By offering a lens for people to see the ideal, human rights can revitalize communities on all levels. The Human Rights Learning Community Wheel suggests ways for participants to reconnect with others working with a common vision, shared language, and a unified practice fostering full respect of the human and community spirit.
This section has raised issues about the need for community and ways in which we can be and act in community. The next section demonstrates direct Building Blocks for human rights education in a specific workshop context.