Letters to the editor: Integrate Human Rights into Curriculum

Lindsey Medeiros


On April 8, Felissa Tibbits came to UMass Boston to discuss how to integrate human rights into elementary education all the way through to the university level. Tibbits’ program was in conjunction with the UMB Human Rights Working Group. The organization consists of students, activists, and faculty. Their efforts over the past few years (among other things) have been to establish a certificate program in Human Rights here at UMB.

Yet, the question remains: why is the study of human rights an important field? Establishing human rights over a given population brings the people a tool by which to protect themselves and others. Moreover, studying it, promotes the cause further.

Many of us in the United States take for granted that we exercise our human rights on a daily basis. By signing a petition, writing an op-ed to a newspaper, dealing with the police, or even just being in the United States there are human rights laws in place to protect every one of us.

However, just being aware of the laws that promote human in the United States sets a limitations to our understanding of the larger world and what “human rights” actually means. It is important to remember that all over the world, there are plenty people who are the victims of all kinds of horrors. By bringing such issues of international human rights to the table in an open and public manner, as a consistent part of the school curriculum for example, the future actions and public opinions shaped by the earlier education could potentially change U.S. foreign policy and the way that our government complies with international treaties and law.

Additionally, it is important to understand the fundamental philosophies that underlie the legal and moral doctrines of international human rights. As Brigadier General Romeo Dellaire says in the documentary, The Last Just Man, that there is an important ideology that, “Man is man is man, we are all the same.”

The reason that I personally advocate for international standards of human rights to be enforced is because if my community was the victim of systematic rape and displacement by government funded militias, or if I was kidnapped and tortured, or sent to a “re-education camp” for criticizing the government, and I didn’t have the voice or power to speak out for myself and be heard, I would hope someone with that power to help me, would speak out or act on my behalf.