Universe of Obligation


*Inspired by Facing History and Ourselves Curriculum – http://www.facinghistory.org

Objectives for Student Learning:

  • Gain understanding of what is meant by the Universe of Obligation
  • Examine different levels of responsibility from the individual to groups to nations
  • Gain understanding of the difference between a right and a responsibility
  • Connect the personal stories and research on broader issues/events to the Universe of Obligation
  • Gain understanding of how to be personally engaged in furthering rights and responsibilities

Curriculum Standards (California):

  • History-Social Science Standards 10.9 and 11.9 Students analyze U.S. policy since World War II
  • Reading Standards1.0 and 2.0(Focus on Informational Material)


  • Research and evaluation of information
  • Critical thinking
  • Analysis and synthesis of information
  • Writing


  • Review the reflections of Eleanor Roosevelt regarding the connection of each person’s actions to overall human rights
  • Review Helen Fein’s depiction of the Universe of Obligation (References provided on last page of Section V)
  • Use the personal stories and research work carried out in Lessons III and IV, as well as the review in the first two Activities to discuss such questions as:
    • Who is in your Universe of Obligation/Responsibility?
    • Who else is in your Universe?
      • Individuals?
      • Groups?
    • What is the difference between a right and a responsibility?
    • What are different ways we can each demonstrate our responsibilities to further rights within our Universe of Obligation?
    • What are examples of more extensive work needed today to continue the work of the people we studied?
    • What are examples of minute actions that can make a difference in this work?
      • How do these minute actions affect the greater Universe of Obligation?

Suggested Questions to Guide Deeper Reflection and Critical Thinking:

  • How is the Universe of Obligation connected to the study of the UDHR?
  • Why does the concept of the Universe of Obligation matter today?
TWAICB Universe of Obligation by The World As It Could Be