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From Passive Polemics to Proactive Partisanship

Pedagogical Strategies to Promote Human Rights in the English Classroom

Avantika Rohatgi

on 30 June 2013

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Transcript of From Passive Polemics to Proactive Partisanship

Avantika Rohatgi
From Passive Polemics to Proactive Partisanship
"Citizenship is a dynamic relationship among strangers who are transformed into neighbors, whose commonality derives from expanding consciousness rather than geographical proximity." - Benjamin Barber
"...a mindset that makes you aware of you as part of the human family, and going beyond your interests to recognize the needs and challenges in resolving some of the problems that the world is faced with." --Linda Braun
"In terms of crimes against humanity,...I think the challenge that we're looking at is how to protect fundamental human rights of those [persons] whose kind of protector, the state, has completely failed...[and who] have a legitimate claim...to turn to the international community." --Louise Arbour
Move from apathy to empathy
Become aware of self and others
Develop a sense of moral responsibility towards others
Seek to improve the lives of the compromised
Pedagogical Strategies to Promote Human Rights in the English Classroom
Students develop cultural empathy through:
Reading articles from my book Global Rights and Perceptions

Discussing Controversial Human Rights Issues

Watching films addressing issues on human rights
1. Discuss the tone of Frye’s essay. How does it reflect the author’s attitude towards the topic?
2. Explain what you consider to be the most thought-provoking part of Frye’s essay.
3. Compare the two articles by Hammond and Frye. Which do you think to be a more successful piece of writing and why?
4. Do you agree with Hammond that racism still exists (p.60)? Do you think that it will ever end in the United States?
5. Do you agree with Frye that abolishing the concept of “same-sex” marriages will “elevate all of humanity”(p.65)? Give justifications for your reasoning of why global gay rights should be a part of promoting universal human rights.
6. In your groups, write a rebuttal to one of the essays stating why you do not agree with the writer’s viewpoint.
1. Are Human Rights Universal?
2. What do you think about the Taliban’s repression of women?
3. Do you agree that we should not judge other cultures and traditions by Western norms?
4. What do you think about the U. S. system of capital punishment as “being no one else’s business, especially in relation to the constitution? (para 3-4)
5. Do you think that exposure of traditional societies to global norms helps or hinders social cohesion and family values? (5).
6. Do you agree that states have a sovereign right to be left alone and not be judged by international standards? (6). Why or why not?
7. Explain cultural exceptionalism with examples.
8. Explain the essence of Paragraph 15 on p. 20.
9. According to Walzer, how do individual rights conflict with social responsibilities? (16)
10. Do you believe that “personal rights should be elevated above the common good”? (17) Why or why not? Explain your response with examples.
11. How can the notions of freedom of rights lead to abuse and anarchy? (p.21)
12. Do you think that oppressive practices of a government are in fact preferences of a power elite? Discuss with examples from history.
13. Read paragraph 25. Do you think this view of Jesus (p.22) should be permitted as evocative of our citizen’s right to freedom of thought and speech?
14. What, according to the author are the trends that have generated the movement of global human rights?
15. Set free of any communal restraints, do you believe that individuals will voluntarily seek a curtailment of rights in order to honor social responsibilities? (30).
16. What are the writer’s conclusions regarding globalization of human rights?

Desert Flower

Saving Face
Born into Brothels
Teaching Process
1. What human rights issues are illustrated in the film? What international laws are in place to stop or prevent those abuses?
2. In the beginning credits of the film, we see images of the children’s eyes looking down on images of the red light district. What themes do these images reflect? What does it tell the viewer about the children? (Clip 1)
3. What is the role of photography in this film? Of music? (Clips 19, 31, 33)
4. What are the changes in the children’s outlook and personalities when they are taken out of the brothel to the beach and zoo? (Clips 20-21, 31-33)
5. If these children were taken out of the brothel environment permanently, do you think that they could fully recover from the injustices and trauma that they have previously faced? Why? Why not?
6. If life in the brothels is all the children have ever known, then how do they know that it is not how they want to live? If it has become the norm, then how do they know that it is not normal for a child to grow up in that environment? Are we born with an internal human rights’ radar? Is awareness of human rights a part of human nature? (Clips 17, 26, 40-41)
7. What can we do for kids that have not been presented with an opportunity to leave the brothels or who have not been helped by someone like Zana? What kind of programs can we implement to create sustainable change for all children of sex-workers? Is it enough to help the children? Why or why not? What can be done for the mothers and the rest of the community?
Half the Sky
Collaborative Human Rights Project
Objective of the assignment:
The Students Will:
Develop their perspectives through dialectical exchange, writing, argument, analysis and evaluation (SLO 1,2,3,4)
practice critical thought by writing, revising and editing an argumentative essay (SLO 2,4,5)
learn the use of the library for basic research strategies such as locating materials, evaluating them, using them effectively and citing them properly (SLO 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,6)
Divide into groups of four to five students. Choose one human rights violation issue ( Human Trafficking, Organ theft, Female Foeticide, Embryo Destructive Research) that you feel to be of critical global concern to research. Prepare a 15-20 minute oral group presentation based on your research. This presentation should include an exhaustive study of the issue, its history, its prevalence in the world and your solutions to how it can be addressed/ resolved. A 4-5 page typed paper (one per group) must also be submitted.
The presentation should address, but not be limited to the following basic background information that should be incorporated into your presentation:
A general overview of the country where the violation is most prevalent. Include the country’s political composition. Identify the type and structure of the government and assess the stability of the government.
Describe the country’s social make-up. Identify the composition of the population by language, ethnic grouping, religion etc.
General overview of the country’s economy.
The paper should talk about your findings as well as the reasons why you find this particular issue worthy of research. It should be typed double-spaced, and include all sources of research. Please follow the MLA documentation guidelines. Consider the following suggestions while writing your paper:
Describe and explain your issue with examples.
How and to what extent has this issue been projected in the media?
Are most people aware of this serious abuse of human rights? What would you do to create a general awareness of this issue in your community?
Describe the laws and sanctions in place to combat the issue.
What new or previously unknown aspects of this issue were revealed to you during your study?
Why do you think this issue deserves world recognition and action?
Suggest innovative solutions to resolve the issue/ end the violation.
Please be aware that visual aids are extremely important in this project. Visual aids include Power Point presentations, diagrams, videos, scrapbooks, skits, posters, flyers etc.Creativity and effort is a MUST! The more creative you are, the better the grade. The project will be judged on the basis of the written paper, quality of research, visual aids, creativity and effectiveness of presentation.
Some of the issues covered
by students include:
Human Trafficking
Media Objectification of Women
Blood Diamonds
Organ Theft
Racial Profiling
Death Penalty
Final Research Project
Conduct extensive research
Propose solutions through a multimedia presentation
Show action

Overview: Now that you have had a brief introduction to some contemporary global human rights issues, it is time for you to choose a topic that particularly interests you and learn more about it through research.
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Choose a Good Topic:
1) Look over the list of topics that we discussed in class, and spend some time researching on the Internet finding out more about any other topic that seems intriguing. Make sure you choose a topic that genuinely interests you as you will have to spend a fair amount of time with it.
2) Write up a topic proposal for me that includes the following:
Topic and focus:
Narrow it down to an issue that can be efficiently dealt within 5-8 pages (e.g. not just “Human Trafficking” but “how and why we should take individual responsibility to stop human trafficking”).
Make an arguable claim that you believe (even tentatively) you can support with your research.
Decide which particular audience you want to address, e.g. college students who are unaware of the issue or could be unsuspecting targets for criminals, etc.,
DUE: At your individual conference with me
Research your topic and compile a Works Cited of at least ten sources, formatted in MLA style that may be helpful to you in your research.
Read, take notes, research some more, repeat. Draft essay. It should be at least five pages and no more than eight, in MLA format. You must cite at least one source with an opposing viewpoint. Bring the rough draft to the peer review workshop.
Construct the final draft incorporating the advice received from your peer. You may visit me during my office hours for additional advice. Submit the final draft in a portfolio format containing the following:
Final Draft
Peer Review Workshop Draft
Peer Review Worksheet Responses
Examples of projects
Acid Attacks – students joined ASF (Acid Survivors’ Foundation)
Cuba Coffee Workers – raised awareness and support groups on campus
Human Trafficking – students formed a band to perform and donate money to victims
Solutions as to how certain issues
such as trafficking of children and organ theft could be tackled… led to us becoming organ donors ourselves.”
—Danish Sharma, Student
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