Group Work — In these assignments, you will be put in a group, which will help you both with research and editing. Each person in the group and the group itself will be responsible for finding appropriate research material on the human rights issues under discussion and sharing that information with the class.
Your group will help you with the research and essays. Everyone will be expected to participate equally and help edit each other’s work. It is important, therefore, that everyone be responsible. You will be given a separate grade for your group participation, which will impact on the essay’s final grade.
First of all, you have to know what human rights are. Familiarize yourself with the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/). What is it? What human rights does it delineate? What is its purpose? History? Use this knowledge as the basis for defining and classifying the human rights you feel are most important.
In this human rights assignment, you will be analyzing how one country handles a particular human rights issue as defined in the UDHR. You will essentially define and analyze a human rights problem in a given country. You are not going to offer a solution here, but prove that the human rights issue you are addressing is indeed a problem in that country.
Your group will be given a country to analyze. Find out as much information as you can about the human rights issues in the country to which you’ve been assigned. Go to various sites, including human rights watch groups like United for Human Rights, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as well as the U.S. State Department, the United Nations, and newspapers and news groups in the country you are analyzing. Discuss your findings with your group. Then come to consensus about three of the major human rights issues you have discovered. See your group as a fact-finding team that is going to give this information to a U.N. committee or the like.
Compile the research materials you have accessed relevant to the human rights topic and country you chose. Research material will include books, journal articles, newspaper accounts, scholarly and government reports, websites, speeches, documentaries, and testimonials. Use the library.
Take notes on your research material and meetings. Include in your note taking all reference documentation including authors names, titles of material, publication dates and publishers, website names and sponsorship, URLs, etc. The more research material you access, the better you will understand the material you are addressing. Be aware that you will not use all of the material you uncover; not all of it will be relevant. Extensive research, however, provides you with the information you need to intelligently and more accurately assess a situation. Be leery too of opinion pieces and blogs. Learn to assess information, particularly from the Internet. This is a critical skill in life now as well as academia.
Once you have done your research, begin to formulate your thesis. The thesis will present your premise and present the criteria you are going to use to prove your premise. The tighter your thesis, the more control you will have over your speech.
Once you have formulated your thesis, write your outline. The more detailed the outline including all reference material (page numbers, URLs, author names, etc.), the easier it will be to write the essay. Have someone in your group or someone at the Writing Center help review your outline. I will go over these in our conferences.
Your outline only addresses the body of your speech. You still need to create an introduction and conclusion. Your introduction might provide general background information about the country and the issues under discussion, define the human right issue under analysis, tell a story, or provide statistics. It’s up to you, but remember, the introduction is designed to engage the audience, to make them want to hear more. It must also lead logically and smoothly into your thesis.
The conclusion restates the main points you made without including any new information. This is an expository speech and you do not, nor perhaps should you, offer solutions here about how to change things, though you might say that things need to change or that they are doing well, whatever you conclude. Make sure your ending ends the discussion.
This speech is similar to a report. All you are doing is presenting information on a particular human rights issue in one country in relation to the UNUDHR. This is not a persuasive essay, so you don’t have to come up with a solution to the problem, if there is one. This assignment is worth 20% of your grade.