The primacy of dignity and human rights education
Bowie, B. 2011. The primacy of dignity and human rights education. PhD Thesis University of Kent / Canterbury Christ Church University Faculty of Education
Human rights education (HRE) is a growing pedagogical force that lacks conceptual theorisation and awareness of an emerging postsecular context. This hampers the extent to which it can accomplish its aims of encouraging friendship between people of different religious and philosophical traditions while advancing a universal culture of rights. The thesis analyses the role of religion within HRE literature, both at an international and theoretical level, and in the curriculum documents for English schools, finding parallel weaknesses resulting from this shallow theoretical base.
The thesis contributes to HRE literature with a distinctive analysis of the foundational concept of dignity and the meaning-giving narratives that contributed to the concept’s development. It unravels the complexities surrounding an often mentioned but seldom explained concept, identifying relationships between inherent worth, human flourishing and societal recognition. It demonstrates that taking an inclusive approach to this conceptual framework allows for two crucial ingredients in contemporary society: different meaning-giving narratives may be held, while a common ethical understanding of rights based on dignity is adhered to. It argues that the concept of dignity is a foundation for a particular pedagogical approach that advances a commitment to the inherent worth of the human person. The approach consists of two reflexive elements: a self-reflective enquiry into the faiths and philosophies of the individual learners and a dialogue with and for others. These elements are essential if the colonial mistakes of earlier human rights movements are to be avoided, and they identify the significance of religious education in HRE. A proposal for a recontextualised form of HRE that is theologically and religiously literate presents a distinctive offering to guide policy and practice. The proposal acknowledges the overlap between educational movement and theological thought and makes specific reference to contributions from contemporary Catholic thinking.
The thesis aims to motivate further research to carry forward the HRE proposal and develop new thinking about postsecular education.
|Publication process dates|
|Deposited||20 Feb 2012|
|Accepted author manuscript|
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