Unit 5: Human Rights Foundations


Notes: The work listed below was created during remote instruction so all the work is on Google Docs. There are also videos I made to help students work asynchronously. Listed out in terms of “days” but many can be consolidated depending on the class format. The boxes/fields in the docs are meant for students to fill in their own responses. Some may already have text in them from working through the questions with my students after the fact.

Download the files linked here in one folder

Key concepts focused on in this unit: Human Rights, Justice, Liberty, Equality

Global Political Challenges:

Other global politics terms: Rights (Positive, Negative, 1st, 2nd, 3rd generation rights

Unit Question: What are human rights?

Final Assessment: 

Daily Work

Day 1: Intro to human rights

Intro to human rights

Work that taps into what students already know, lays out the design of the unit, and introduces some basic terminology around rights along with a homework reading.

Day 2: Intro to human rights part 2

Human Rights Seminar Work

Discussion of the relationship between nation-states and human rights, further exploration of the idea of human rights.

Day 3: The UDHR

Human Rights UDHR

Introduction to the UDHR along with the historical circumstances that gave rise to it.

Day 4: Translating the UDHR

Translating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Group work where students are assigned 4-5 articles from the document to translate. This is not the complete UDHR. I edited down some of the articles.

Day 5: Applying the UDHR, Criticizing Human Rights

Classwork on UDHR Applications and Criticism

Worksheet that asks students to apply the different articles of the UDHR to brief scenarios. Two homework readings attached. One that discusses the nature of the UDHR as an idealistic vision and the second reading discusses it as a Western construct

Day 6: Human Rights Discussion Questions, Upholding Human Rights

Seminar DIscussion Questions

Day 7: Expanding Human Rights: Independent Research and Group work

Instructions Worksheet Along with Links to Get Started

Directions on Group Activity on HR Laws

Human Rights Treaties Individual and Group Work

Students will work independently to research one of four treaties that expanded human rights and then explain and discuss their treaty with a group of three other students.

Days 8, 9, 10: Regional Approaches to Human Rights, ECHR

Regional Approaches to Human RIghts

A look at the European Convention on Human Rights. There are a few selections of different articles and applications which leads to a discussion of the effectiveness of this approach to protecting human rights.

Seminar Discussion Work

Part two of this work was a brief group discussion worksheet.

Wrap up on the ECHR

Part three introduces the final three human rights concepts along with an evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the ECHR

Day 11: Realists and Liberals on Human Rights

Realists and Liberals on Human Rights

Days 12 and 13: The International Criminal Court (ICC) (International Approaches to Human Rights)

The International Criminal Court

Materials introducing the ICC, looking at some specific cases

Seminar work on the ICC

Part 2 evaluates whether the ICC is biased, ineffective, Eurocentric in its approach to international justice.

ICC Debate

Day 14: Collective vs Individual Rights, Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL)

Introduction to the concept of collective rights along with a couple of documents/articles exploring applications of this idea. Brief exploration of the controversy over DAPL.

Individual vs. Collective Rights_

Slides provide a quick overview of the human rights unit so far along with an introduction to the concept of indigenous person, related controversies

Slides Collective vs. Individual Rights

In retrospect, focusing on DAPL did not add much to this unit since it seemed an awkward fit for elaborating on collective rights. It was a high interest case study but not easy for students to make the connection between the case and the relevant concepts of rights. Next time around I’ll find a better fit.

Day 15: Universalism vs. Relativism 

Introduction to the theoretical concepts of universalism and relativism. Reading attached here is an engaging one about the practice of infanticide among a tribe that lives in the Amazon.

Relativism and Universalism in Human Rights

Discussion on relativism and universalism

HR controversies textbook Reading

Other Resources

Reading that connects to conversations around universalism and relativism: Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving, Abu-Lughod