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UWS academic to play crucial role in human rights education in schools

Published: 07 Dec 2016

Ahead of Human Rights Day, Saturday 10 December, an academic at University of the West of Scotland (UWS) working in conjunction with UNICEF’s Rights Respecting Schools initiative and with the support of Creative Scotland is giving every Scottish secondary school a series of film-based workshops featuring stars such as Oscar-winner Tilda Swinton and Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh to help children develop a greater understanding of human rights.

‘Learning Through Film: Human Rights in Scotland’ is a unique educational resource based on the BBC broadcast ‘The New Ten Commandments’ project first conceived by Professor Nick Higgins, Director of the UWS Creative Media Academy and co-produced by the Scottish Documentary Institute. The film project invited directors to contribute short films on ten human rights to encourage a greater understanding of their relevance for the citizens of Scotland. The book that accompanies the film, co-authored by Professor Higgins and Dr Alastair Cole of Newcastle University, is already used widely across the public and educational sectors but this latest distribution strategy sees the educational resource supplied for free to more than 400 Scottish secondary schools in time for Human Rights Day.

Human Rights Day, commemorates the date when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year, all member states are being asked to observe the day. Additionally, each citizen is asked to consider how they can stand up for someone's rights such as freedom of thought, religion or expression; from a refugee or migrant, to a person with disabilities, an LGBT person, a woman or a child.

The ‘Learning Through Film’ workshops were developed with support from the Scottish Human Rights Commission and Choose Life. The 10-minute documentary films and corresponding forty minute workshops, designed mainly for S4 to S6 students, explore ten Human Rights. Each workshop was created to be completed within a single lesson and to be integrated into existing subject areas of the Scottish national curriculum for excellence.

Following a University style approach to learning, the workshops allow pupils to form their own opinions and conclusions as well as helping them understand their own human rights and the importance of standing up for them. The workshops encourage participants to recognise challenges that exist to human rights everywhere – not just in developing countries, but also in Scotland – and their own role in standing up for the rights of others.

Professor of Media Practice and Director of Creative Media Academy Nick Higgins who devised the project said; “We are proud to be working with UNICEF’s Right Respecting School’s project and that our classroom resource will be in every secondary school in Scotland, thanks to Creative Scotland, and also count towards the school receiving a rights respecting award.”  

“With this educational resource we aim to support the creation of a human rights culture within the wider community, which we see as increasingly important against the backdrop of increased extremism and intolerance. We hope this resource will help young people realise they can make a real difference not just through what they say but in the way they respect each other’s rights not only in the classroom, but also when they are out with their friends or on social media.”

Scott Donaldson, Head of Film Education at Creative Scotland said: “Creative Scotland is delighted to support the distribution of these resources. Film can provide direct and immediate engagement with complex issues, and there are few issues needing greater attention now than human rights. These resources can make a significant contribution to young people’s understanding of the issues and the various ways in which filmmakers can address them.”


Issued by The BIG Partnership on behalf of the University of the West of Scotland.

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Katie Burnett
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About University of the West of Scotland
University of the West of Scotland is one of Scotland’s largest modern universities. It aims to have a transformational influence on the economic, social and cultural development of the West of Scotland, and beyond, by providing relevant, high quality, inclusive higher education and innovative and useful research. The University aims to make the communities it serves more successful; and create opportunities for all to participate.

About University of the West of Scotland Creative Media Academy
UWS Creative Media Academy is one of only three Higher Education Institutions in Scotland to be endorsed as a centre of excellence by Creative Skillset. Part of the School of Media, Culture and Society, the Academy brings together students, staff and practitioners within the subject groupings of film, television, radio, music, performance, journalism and digital art.

The UWS Creative Media Academy comprises degree programmes which are accredited by Creative Skillset, BJTC, JAMES and Drama UK. It offers programmes focused on professional practice, dedicated to vocationally relevant education to anticipate the skills needs of the creative and cultural industries.

The Academy has strong links with industry and the public sector which support; skills and talent development, business growth and the knowledge economy. It has established a Glasgow Creative Enterprise Cluster, a locus for industry facing, multidisciplinary projects and public events at CCA: Centre for Contemporary Arts and at Film City Glasgow. 

To find out more visit:www.uws.io

About Creative Scotland
Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here. We enable people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life.  We distribute funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery. For further information about Creative Scotland please visit www.creativescotland.com.  Follow us @creativescots and www.facebook.com/CreativeScotland