Course Spotlight: Human Rights and Education

Children sit on the floor of the classroom while their teacher stands in front of the chalkboard in Malawi. Photo by Deepa Srikantaiah
Children sit on the floor of the classroom while their teacher stands in front of the chalkboard in Malawi. Photo by Deepa Srikantaiah

Course Description

This class will explore key questions related to global education and human rights, from the abstract to the practical, and the individual to the global levels. It will start by asking the big questions that underlie current debates about education and human rights: Who, if anyone, should have a right to education? If they have a right to education, do they have a right to a particular kind of education? Who should decide these questions, and how? Who should provide this education, and how? How does education as a human right relate to human rights education, and what are the implications for our understanding of what educating people is expected to generate?

These questions will lead students to examine global human rights frameworks, global education models, and global models for assuring that every country has the money they need to provide education to its citizens. Students will couple this examination with a careful study of the practicalities of education and human rights approaches, to ask the fundamental question: can the global human rights framework transform current educational, national, indentity-based, and economic inequities? For example, what happens with education as a human right, and education for human rights, in situations of war, internal displacement, refugee crises, non-democratic governments, and entrenched social inequities? Do public schools have the responsibility to teach or to practice human rights education? And, can one global education and human rights model best meet the needs of our incredibly diverse global population?

Students will root their explorations of these and other questions in particular case studies, likely including: children affected by AIDS in Malawi; children affected by government violence in Zimbabwe; youth refugee and returnee education in South Sudan; Syrian refugee children’s education in Europe; children affected by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans; indigenous groups’ “reeducation” in Colombia; youth and adult immigrant students’ rights in the U.S.; education and nation-building in Myanmar; and education to eradicate child labor in India.

Students are expected to be active readers and analysts, regular participants in the classroom, and good colleagues. Student assignments include two short papers (5 double-spaced pages) and a group presentation on an issue related to human rights and education. One of the papers and the group presentation will build off of students’ own interests (geographical, topical, etc.), while the second paper will be about one of the articles or video materials that we use during the class.

Enrollment Details

Educational Policy Studies 150: Human Rights and Education
3 credits
Tu/Th 9:30-10:45am, Education L177
Fall 2016

About the Instructors

Nancy Kendall is associate professor of educational policy studies, specialized in comparative, international, and global education policy. Kendall conducts comparative ethnographic research on global development education policies and their intersections with children’s and families’ daily lives. Kendall has conducted extended research in Malawi, Mozambique, and the U.S., and has conducted shot-term research in Colombia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Zimbabwe.

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