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Human Rights Education

Amnesty International believes that learning about human rights is the first step toward respecting, promoting and defending the rights of all people. Teaching human rights means both conveying ideas and information concerning human rights and nurturing the values and attitudes that lead to the support of those rights.

About Human Rights Education

Human rights education is both a lens through which to observe the world and a methodology for teaching and leading others. Amnesty International believes that learning about human rights is the first step toward respecting, promoting and defending those rights. The Human Rights Education program (HRE) was established in order to facilitate the teaching of human rights. Designed to support teachers of kindergarten through college as well as educators working in non-formal settings such as community associations and cultural forums, HRE is dedicated to promoting the human rights principles and positive value system that are set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Amnesty International's Human Rights Education Program provides resource materials as well as training and networking opportunities. All educators, formal, informal, and potential, are invited to join our Human Rights Education Network (HRE Network), which currently includes a range of teachers from those just beginning to consider including human rights education in their curriculum to long-time activists/human rights educators. Teaching about human rights means both conveying ideas and information concerning human rights and nurturing the values and attitudes that lead to the support of those rights.

Amnesty International USA Orientation

Welcome to Amnesty International's Online Orientation. This course will help orient you to Amnesty International and to human rights. There are four modules and a reference guide. We strongly encourage volunteer leaders and group leaders to spend a few moments and take this course, as it will provide you with foundational information you need to be effective within AIUSA. Module 1: About Amnesty International Learn about Amnesty International's mission and vision, history, working methods, and organizational structure. Module 2: International Human Rights Standards Get important background about international human rights standards, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Bill of rights, and other supplemental treaties. Module 3: Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Learn about economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights, which relate to the conditions necessary to meet basic human needs such as food, shelter, education, health care, and gainful employment. This module provides a basic understanding of specific ESC rights. As Amnesty International develops its research, actions, and campaigning in this area, it is important that members expand their knowledge in this area. Module 4: Membership Structures Understand membership structures at AIUSA, including individual membership, group membership, network structures, and volunteer leadership roles, and see how these all play a vital part in successful activism.

Teaching Guides
Our teaching guides are designed to provide a solid framework for discussing human rights in your classroom.


APRIL 28, 2011

Hotel Rwanda Curriculum Guide

The first film companion guide produced by the HRE program at AIUSA, this curriculum consists of three lessons and various activities for teachers and activists to use in conjunction with a screeni...

APRIL 28, 2011

War Dance Curriculum Guide

War Dance is a documentary film that follows students from war-torn northern Uganda to the National Music Festival in the nation's capital, Kampala.

APRIL 28, 2011

The Kite Runner Curriculum Guide

The Kite Runner is adapted from the bestselling novel by Khaled Hosseini. The companion curriculum guide is a comprehensive teaching tool that includes five lesson plans designed to give learners a...

APRIL 28, 2011

Blood Diamond Curriculum Guide

The teacher's guide includes lesson plans, a glossary, discussion questions and materials for further study. The guide provides students with insight to explore individual as well as collective and...



Human rights and science are not topics that people often associate. But science can play an important role in protecting human rights. For example, scientists can use their knowledge to help study the impacts of climate change on specific groups or to identify missing persons.

This link is at the core of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences Science & Human Rights Coalition. The coalition, an initiative of the AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights & Law Program (SRHRL), is made up of approximately 50 scientific and engineering organizations and more than 70 individuals. Chemists and other scientists can offer a valuable perspective to human rights issues, according to Jessica M. Wyndham, associate director of SRHRL. Chemists come with specific skills and expertise that only they can bring to certain challenges, she explains, adding that she hopes that through the efforts of the AAAS coalition, scientists will think about those challenges, through a human rights lens. Human rights is about much more than just doing good; its about specifically and explicitly using the human rights framework as the basis for your work, and for your interventions. The coalition hosts meetings twice a year on topics ranging from forensics to ethical dilemmas to the rights of indigenous communities (C&EN, Feb. 13, 2012, page 35). At its most recent meeting, held last month, the focus was on science and childrens rights. Science can make numerous contributions to protecting the rights of children by, for example, reducing environmental pollution and providing safe drinking water. The protection of childrens rights is at the heart of many human rights efforts, most notably the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This UN effort was really the first comprehensive treaty to address the full range of childrens rights, according to Jo Becker, advocacy director for Human Rights Watchs childrens rights division. As the UN childrens rights framework has developed, it has also brought a real shift in thinking, away from perceiving children simply as objects of aid or assistance and toward a recognition that they are autonomous beings, entitled to a voice and entitled to a say over their own lives, Becker says. Heather D. Gingerich, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in environmental science at the University of Guelph, says she attended the recent coalition meeting to find ideas on how to apply her research on drinking water chemistry and maternal and child health outcomes to human rights. Everybody wants to think their work is going to make the world a better place. But I think a lot of times people just dont know how to help or what the problems are because theyre so focused on their research, she says. Id like to find out how I can help decisionmakers make better decisions using science. For some chemists, attending meetings on human rights issues offers an opportunity to delve into unfamiliar territory. Understanding human rights issues is something thats been a gap in my training, says Emily Grumbling, a Ph.D. chemist and AAAS science and technology policy fellow at the National Science Foundation. I want to expand my knowledge base and my level of awareness of the things that are happening and what other scientists have felt they can do to engage. I want to learn how I can contribute. Other chemists use such meetings to build on what they learned at previous gatherings. When I attended the very first meeting of this coalition three years ago, my knowledge of human rights was almost nonexistent, says Jeffrey H. Toney, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Kean University. I really had no understanding of these topics. For me, its been educational. It makes me think differently about how I can apply my skills as a chemist and as an educator to these human rights issues.

David J. Proctor, a Ph.D. chemist and AAAS science and technology policy fellow at NSF, agrees. Within the research community, youre always looking for new hypotheses, new experiments to run, new ideas to pursue, and this is a way to inspire a different perspective. Funding agencies such as NSF could play a role in broadening scientists knowledge and understanding of human rights, Proctor points out. One thing you can do is make human rights a legitimate broader impact that gets evaluated for funding, he says, referring to the broader impacts statement that is required for agency grant proposals. The American Chemical Society, which is a member of the coalition, offers many opportunities for chemists to get involved in preventing human rights abuses, such as through its Scientific Mobility & Human Rights effort. In addition, ACS can lend assistance to other organizations that are looking for the knowledge that chemists can bring to bear on certain issues that theyre trying to address and dont have the expertise on, says Larry K. Krannich, chair of the ACS Committee on Professional & Member Relations, which oversees ACSs human rights activities. Despite the influence scientists can bring to human rights issues, some in the field are hesitant to get involved. One concern that is often raised is that getting involved in human rights means politicizing your science, Wyndham says. But the rigor that scientists bring to their work is the greatest strength they can bring to human rights. The next meeting, on the rights to scientific progress, will take place on July 1112 in Washington, D.C. Chemical & Engineering News ISSN 0009-2347 Copyright 2014 American Chemical Society

Juan C Gallardo (March 8, 2013 3:44 PM) One of the tasks of the AAAS Coalition is to bring to people the realization that Human Rights and Science are not only associated but closely interconnected. Doing science implies for its practitioners the freedom to carry out his/her research unencumbered by arbitrary regulations; the freedom to communicate with others; the freedom to publish the results; the freedom to travel; the freedom to establish collaborations. All these freedoms are enshrined in the UN Human Rights covenants which are principles for humankind, scientists or not. A threat to the human rights of any individual is a threat to the right of scientists. Reply

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