This module is a resource for lecturers  




This Module explores the existence of universal human values, which are those things or behaviours that we believe should be privileged and promoted in the lives of all human beings. A value is one of our most important and enduring beliefs, whether that be about a thing or a behaviour. Even though some values may be universal, they often arise from particular religious, social and political contexts. To understand this, students will examine one of the "universal values" within the United Nations system, i.e. human rights. Students will be introduced to the formation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and understand how it originated from debates among a multicultural group of individual philosophers, diplomats, and politicians. Students will undertake an active learning exercise to create a Universal Declaration of Human Values (UDHV) to reinforce these ideas.

The Module is a resource for lecturers. It provides an outline for a three-hour class but can be used for shorter or longer sessions, or extended into a full-fledged course (see: Guidelines to develop a stand-alone course).


Learning outcomes

  • Understand the ideas of values, ethics, and morality in a multicultural context
  • Understand how universal values can be uncovered by different means, including scientific investigation, historical research, or public debate and deliberation (what some philosophers call a dialectic method)
  • Understand and discuss the idea of moral relativism and the challenges it poses to universal values
  • Critically assess the relationship between theory and practice in the formulation of values
  • Understand that values arise from lived experiences, but need to be justified to others
  • Understand the role of deliberation and debate in framing such values
  • Understand how to create an actionable document through such a process


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