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Supplemental Materials

Supplemental Materials include online resources and graphic organizers to accompany the printed unit, online lessons that supplement the unit, links to additional online resources from the Choices Program, links to resources on other sites, and a list of recommended print resources.


Choices produces videos featuring top experts—professors, policymakers, journalists, activists, and artists—answering questions that complement the readings and lessons.

Human Rights

Competing Visions of Human Rights: Questions for U.S. Policy

Second edition. May 2012.


Over the past several decades, discussion about human rights has permeated international relations, creating a surge in treaties, institutions, and social movements. Yet while the general principle of human rights has been broadly accepted, human rights abuses persist and questions about the subject remain hotly contested.

Using readings, case studies, and primary sources, students examine the evolving role that human rights has played in international politics and explore the current debate on U.S. human rights policy.


Students trace the origins and history of international human rights, exploring the effects of events such as World War II and the Nuremberg Trials, the birth of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Cold War, and decolonization. They also consider human rights in practice today, exploring how different actors—such as national governments, the UN, international courts, NGOs, and individuals—influence human rights around the world. Students consider current challenges in human rights, and also examine five case studies that highlight major controversies.

The Choices Role Play

At the center of this curriculum is a simulation in which students debate and deliberate four distinct options for U.S. human rights policy. By exploring four clearly defined alternatives, students gain a deeper understanding of the values underlying specific policy recommendations and the trade—offs that accompany each of the choices. The role play is designed to help students clarify their thoughts and, ultimately, articulate their own views on the future of U.S. human rights policy.


Human Rights in Action
This introductory exercise helps students define human rights. Students assess the role of human rights in cases from around the world, and are challenged to consider whether human rights are being violated and who is responsible for protecting them.

Key Concepts in Human Rights
Utilizing short videos of human rights scholars and practitioners, students explore fundamental concepts in human rights and explore the challenges of prioritizing rights.

Expressing Human Rights in Social Movements
Students consider the role of social movements in promoting human rights and assess alternative forms of expression. Students explore source material such as songs from the African-American civil rights movement, poems from the Landless Worker's Movement in Brazil, Twitter updates from the 2009 Iranian protests, and artwork of women opposed to Pinochet's military dictatorship in Chile.

Human Rights Controversies
Students utilize primary source documents to explore in greater depth the controversies and fundamental questions about human rights presented in the five case studies in the reading.

Role-Playing the Four Options
Students engage in a simulation that brings the debate on U.S. human rights policy to life. Students assume the roles of advocates for four different policy options, members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and human rights experts.

Joining the Debate on U.S. Policy
Students articulate their personal recommendations for U.S. human rights policy and apply their policy recommendations to real-life scenarios.

Assessment Using Documents
Students use primary sources to consider how U.S. exceptionalism has affected U.S. human rights policy.