Lesson Plans – Human Rights

Are Human Rights Universal?
Source: HRE USA
Using hypothetical examples, students will discuss the concept of universal human
rights and their personal thoughts and opinions on the issues. Students will be asked to read or listen to various news articles about the topics, conduct their own research, and prepare notes for a discussion. The purpose is to use current and personal examples in order to engage students in the discussion of human rights.

Grade Level: high school
Subject Area: social studies

Competing Visions of Human Rights: Questions for US Policy
Source: The Choices Program
A full curriculum that uses readings, case studies, and primary sources to help students examine the evolving role that human rights has played in international politics and explore the current debate on U.S. human rights policy.
Grade Level: high school
Subject Area: social studies, US History, current events


Fundamental Freedoms: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Source: Facing History and Ourselves
Curriculum including primary documents, connecting questions to stimulate discussion, photographs, maps, political cartoons.
Grade Level: high school


Getting Ready to Learn about Human Rights
Source: Expeditionary Learning, 2013
Two-lesson unit that engages in a close reading and paraphrase of key UDHR Articles so that all words and concepts are understood.
Grade Level: upper elementary
Subject Area: social studies, language arts

Going Global – Investigating Global Issues of Interest and Importance
Source: HRE USA
In this independent research project, students focus on areas of interest to them based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and then study a location that is a hotbed of violations of their chosen human right. The long-term study culminates with a structured presentation of their topic with the intent to raise awareness of Human Rights issues and the intent of proposing a potential solution utilizing specific problem-solving steps..
Grade Level: middle school
Subject Area: social studies

Human Rights in the Ancient World
Source: HRE USA
Students wrestle with the common perception that the ancient world was a period in history that largely ignored human rights. By examining both Hammurabi’s Law Code of 1754 B.C.E. and Rome’s Law of the Twelve Tables of 450 B.C.E., the students will discover that specific opportunities, rights, and positions within society were detailed for men, women, children, slaves, and other groups, along with the limitations that one would expect to find in these documents. By conducting a thorough document analysis, comparing the two law codes, and discussing their findings in a Socratic Seminar, the students will develop conclusions about ancient notions of human rights and the changes (improvements or losses) that occurred over time.
Grade Level: high school
Subject Area: social studies


Human Rights in the US: The People behind the Statistics
Source: Advocates for Human Rights
Lesson that using puts a human face on the violation of human rights in the USA.
Grade Level: high school
Subject Area: social studies


I Have a Right to …

Source: BBC World Service
A collection of case studies that illustrate specific human rights with contemporary examples.
Grade Level: high school
Subject Area: social studies, current events, geography


The Interdependence of Rights
Source: Human Rights: Yes!, 2012
Explores the interdependence of rights using an Effects Cascade. This is Exercise #2 in Part IV, Section 2.
Grade Level: middle school – adult
Subject Area: social studies


Raising Children with Roots, Rights, and Responsibilities: Celebrating the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Authors: Lori DuPont, Joanne Foley, and Annette Gagliardi
Source: University of Minnesota Human Rights Resource Center, 1999
Sessions for pre-school children and their parents to learn about basic human rights and responsibilities through creative activities, games, and songs.
Grade Level: pre-school – kindergarten

The UDHR & Contemporary Issues
Source: HRE USA
This lesson asks students to correlate the UDHR to current newspaper articles which illustrate the portrayal of human rights in one of four situations (rights achieved, rights denied, rights violated, rights in conflict). Students will explain that situation, the correlation to the UDHR, and then write a reflection on the role of the UDHR in potentially resolving the situation.
Grade Level: high school
Subject Area: social studies

Using Inquiry-Based Research to Highlight Contemporary Human Rights Challenges
Source: HRE USA
Students will be introduced to the concept of Human Rights and tasked with finding how they are still applicable to our world today. This series of lessons will begin with a general introduction to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Following this, students will design their own questions about what human rights abuses may still be occurring today. The lesson will culminate in students creating an infographic, which will then be shared with the class.
Grade Level: high school
Subject Area: social studies


What are Human Rights?
Source: Welsh Equality & Human Rights Commission
Through an interactive marketplace activity, students discover that we never have to choose our human rights, they belong to everybody in the world and every human right is needed to live and grow. Lessons 9-12 are also relevant.
Grade Level: middle – high school
Subject Area: social studies, government


Teaching Human Rights

Author: David Shiman
Publisher: Center for Teaching International Relations, 1993
The UDHR provides a useful framework for organizing this collection of curriculum activities on human rights. Can serve either as the core on human rights or a resource from which teachers can draw specific activities to integrate into existing curricula.
Price: About $30
Grade Level: middle – high school
Subject Area: social studies, government


Where Do You Stand?
Publisher: Amnesty International
Lesson plan with interactive game that explores the meaning and scope of “human rights” and introduces the UDHR with an interactive game.
Grade Level: high school
Subject Area: social studies, government


The World as It Could Be
Publisher: The World as It Could Be
Full curriculum that uses the creative arts to deepen learning about the UDHR and provide opportunities for the youth to, in turn, teach their peers and adults about the importance of manifesting the words of the UDHR.  Lesson plans are designed to encourage a progression of learning that starts with objective knowledge, moves to personal connection to both human rights concepts and issues, and then engagement to play a role in advancing UDHR principles.
Grade Level: middle – high school
Subject Area: social studies, language arts, drama, music