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Human Rights Education in Science Classes

Entry Author:
Sarah Adkins-Jablonsky, PhD

Medical Student
Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine



The “Human Rights Education in Science Classes” session highlighted the need for a reciprocal relationship between science curricula and Human Rights Education with a focus on collaboration, use of primary objectives, stories with human voices, and social impact. The integration of Human Rights Education in classrooms is the main mission of RFK Human Rights’ “Speak Truth to Power” (STTP) program, which provides teachers, such as science teachers, with resources and lessons. The session reviewed five exemplary cases of human rights lessons used in STTP science classrooms, including Desertification in Central Asia, Atomic Chemistry, Climate Change and Homelessness, Food Production and Food Inequity, and Water Dynamics and Water Rights. Human Rights Education in the science classroom not only aims to teach science content specifically in line with national standards, but also empowers students to reflect and act.





  • Human Rights Education in science aims to identify primary content objectives such as those in accordance with national science standards (i.e., Next Generation Science Standards) while considering the broader societal and social impacts of science issues.
  • Storytelling is imperative to human rights and science education because stories from human rights defenders and local community members are able to connect scientific issues to lived experiences. In this way, storytelling acts as a bridge between scientific instructional practices and Human Rights Education.
  • Science instructional content incorporating human rights issues makes use of open-ended discussion questions in tandem with reflections. These allow students to make interdisciplinary connections between the sciences and other disciplines (i.e., policy, geography, agriculture, economics, transportation, and climate change) in order to consider personal and community-level impacts of scientific issues. 




  1. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights “Speak Truth to Power” program, based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Kerry Kennedy’s book “Speak Truth to Power: Human Rights Defenders Who Are Changing Our World,” connects teachers with resources and lessons to advance classroom conversations around human rights.
  2. Human Rights Education can connect national science standards to lived experience and broader society in order spread awareness, empathy, and an understanding of basic human rights shared by all people.



Key Words

  1. Science classroom
  2. Human Rights Education 
  3. Speak Truth to Power 
  4. Case study
  5. Science lesson