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Exercises

 

This section contains suggestions for in-class and pre-class educational exercises, while a post-class assignment for assessing student understanding of the Module is suggested in a separate section.

The exercises in this section are most appropriate for classes of up to 50 students, where students can be easily organized into small groups in which they discuss cases or conduct activities before group representatives provide feedback to the entire class. Although it is possible to have the same small group structure in large classes comprising a few hundred students, it is more challenging and the lecturer might wish to adapt facilitation techniques to ensure sufficient time for group discussions as well as providing feedback to the entire class. The easiest way to deal with the requirement for small group discussion in a large class is to ask students to discuss the issues with the four or five students sitting close to them. Given time limitations, not all groups will be able to provide feedback in each exercise. It is recommended that the lecturer makes random selections and tries to ensure that all groups get the opportunity to provide feedback at least once during the session.

If time permits, the lecturer could facilitate a discussion in plenary after each group has provided feedback.

All exercises in this section are appropriate for both graduate and undergraduate students. However, as students' prior knowledge and exposure to these issues vary widely, decisions about appropriateness of exercises should be based on their educational and social context. The lecturer is encouraged to relate and connect each exercise to the key issues of the Module.

 

Exercise 1: Performance: Enacting universal values

Ask the students to read the following speech by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan:

The speech was given at the University of Tubingen, Germany in honour of Professor Hans Kung, the Catholic theologian who helped drafted the Declaration Toward a Global Ethic (see section on Key Issues). United Nations Secretary General Annan argues in this document that Kung's ideas about universal values are captured in the United Nations Charter, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and other United Nations activities. He argues further that those values need to be defended by all people and should not be a point of division between peoples.

Lecturer guidelines

Five values mentioned in the speech are: peace, freedom, social progress, equal rights, and human dignity. Create five teams of students and assign one of the values to each team. Each team must then write a short performance in which they act out their value. Each play should be 2-3 minutes long, and students should be allowed 15-30 minutes to develop it. The plays can be based on real life events or fictional scenarios. If they cannot finish the task in the time allotted, encourage them to develop this further outside of the classroom.

 

Exercise 2: Simulation: Creating a Universal Declaration of Human Values

In this exercise, students are asked to create a Universal Declaration of Human Values (UDHV). This is modelled on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), though its focus is on values rather than rights. Students will be organized into groups of at least five and no more than eight to create a 10-15 article declaration.

Lecturer guidelines

Students should have read the UDHR along with selections from the edited volume from UNESCO, " Human rights: comments and interpretations" (UNESCO/PHS/3). They will have listened to two 15-minute lectures on universal values and the UDHR, along with discussing their own ideas about values and ethics.

Students should be reminded that they are doing something different from what the drafters of the UDHR did, since they are focusing on values rather than rights. This might provide an opportunity for the lecturer to discuss the differences between rights and values. The idea of the exercise is to use the same format as the UDHR and try to create a document which they can all agree to.

Students should be divided into groups of 5-8 students each. They have 45 minutes to complete the assignment. On the screen or board, the lecturer should post the following questions:

  • What do you value?
  • How can what you value be turned into a rule of behaviour?
  • What areas of life are most important to delimit in such a document, i.e., politics, law, economics, society, family, etc.?

The lecturer should encourage students to use the first 15 minutes to discuss these questions and have a rapporteur write down some of their answers. After this, the lecturer should intervene and suggest that they start working toward a document of no more than 15 articles. This can be written in a formal language (similar to what they have read in United Nations documents) or in a language with which they are more comfortable. This should take them the next 30 minutes.

The last 15 minutes should be set aside for students to read out their answers and then have some summary discussion by the class and lecturer. The differences between values and rights should again be emphasized. This exercise works for large and small classes as it suggests students should be broken up into groups for the exercise.

By the end of the exercise, each group should have produced a 10-15 article declaration. These should be typed up at the end of the Module and put onto a shared drive which all students can access. Students should then be asked to read through and reflect upon the different outcomes.

 

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