Since we asked about whether—and, if so, how—knowing about human rights mattered in today’s world, we’ve received some thoughtful, and thought-provoking, responses. Here are some insights shared by Bob Groves of Philadelphia:  

Thanks for asking this question. I believe it matters greatly. For the last four years I have been teaching a course I call “Human Rights in the 21st Century” at the Oscher Lifelong Learning Institute based at Temple University in Philadelphia. Attached is the short outline of my most recent course, which usually includes 40-50 adults. I formally cover the UDHR in the first two class sessions and then refer to it throughout the course. By the way, I always ask in the beginning of class if anyone has ever been taught about the UDHR at any level of school. I have yet to find one class member who had learned about it in their schooling at any level through college (me included).

Here is why I think the UDHR matters:

  • It provides an authoritative source of affirmation about what we, as humans, should value no matter what country, culture and political/economic system we live in
  • It asserts and reinforces the concept that all lives are equal
  • It helps clarify why factors such as cultural and/or religious practices can often simply be shields to protect those in power from true accountability for their actions and policies—which too often are merely self-serving
  • It  serves as a core reference point for making judgements about past, current or proposed actions of any political leader/group, party or government
  • The many international laws/conventions/agreements that flow from the UDHR help hold nations/leaders accountable for their behavior to their own people and on the world stage

Best regards,

Bob Groves, MA, MPH
Philadelphia, PA

Read/download curriculum outline