Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Game of Summit

This is what we'll be doing in my Ethics course tonight.

You have been selected as part of a national delegation to a major international summit whose purpose is to propose a universal declaration of human rights.

(1) Break up into groups (delegations) and introduce yourselves.

(2) Select someone to be secretary and someone to be the spokesperson to present your delegation’s proposal to the class.

(3) Each delegation must identify three (3) rights to propose as part of the declaration. It must be clear precisely what right you are proposing, and after you propose it to the class you will not be allowed to change it in any way. In other words: Formulate your proposed right very carefully and make sure the secretary writes it down correctly!

(4) Every right proposed must be supported by an argument or arguments agreed upon by your group. This will be your delegation’s official reason for why this right should be added to the universal declaration.

(5) The class will re-form as a general assembly. Each delegation will be allowed to present its proposed rights and give an argument for it. After each delegation has proposed all of its rights and given the delegation’s official arguments, the floor will be opened for a few minutes of debate on the rights, formulations, and arguments. The proposing delegation will be allowed to sum up its general rebuttal to any objections.

(6) There will be a general vote over each proposed right. Each delegation gets one (1) vote, to be determined by the majority of the members of that delegation. A tie within the delegation will be construed as a NO vote, i.e., a vote against the proposal. The delegation’s vote will be taken by the secretary and presented to the class by the spokesperson. Delegation members should base their vote on three things: whether they agree that the right is or should be a right, whether they agree that it is important enough to belong to an official declaration of rights, and whether they agree with the particular formulation proposed. Remember, bad formulations even of legitimate rights can come back to bite you later as people start using the letter of the law to protect themselves from the spirit of the law, or using the letter of the law to demand things that were not intended.

(7) Due to the delicate international situation, no right will be added to the declaration except on the unanimous agreement of all the delegations.

3 comments:

  1. Vance Ricks10:57 PM

    All of that in ONE class period?  How long is the class period?

    (It sounds like a very potentially rich and engaging assignment, by the way.  What assigned readings, if any, prepared the students for the activity?)

    ReplyDelete
  2. branemrys7:07 AM

    It's a tight fit, and requires keeping everybody on course and brief, but we do get through it. This particular activity I do in the natural law theory section of the course, so the reading to prepare for it is Jacques Maritain's Communication with regard to the Draft World Declaration of the Rights of Man from the UNESCO site.

    ReplyDelete
  3. branemrys7:07 AM

    It's a tight fit, and requires keeping everybody on course and brief, but we do get through it. This particular activity I do in the natural law theory section of the course, so the reading to prepare for it is Jacques Maritain's Communication with regard to the Draft World Declaration of the Rights of Man from the UNESCO site.

    ReplyDelete

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