Rationale and Objectives
The rise of individualism attested since the 18th century has been followed by a constant
evolution of the Rights of Man and Citizen. Paradoxically this development, which should be
regarded as part of the democratization process in Western societies, multiplied conflicts of
values within the emerging democratic countries, especially during the last decades. In some
cases, this phenomenon even led to contradictions between collective and individual rights.
Therefore, the course deals with the following key questions: What are the rights and
obligations of each one? What can a community expect from each one and what should it
The proposed units 6, 7, 8, 9 provide opportunities to develop and question civic attitudes
promoting respect for diversity through a participative approach. They simultaneously focus
on crucial conflicting values and on current societal issues, such as:
Conflicting rights and values (Unit 6)
Tolerance in plural societies (Unit 7)
Racism- A danger then as now (Unit 8)
Education in migration societies: role of languages for social cohesion, social participation
and successful education (Unit 9)
Rationale and objectives for unit 6:
In western societies, the rights of the individual and the process of democratization have been strongly influenced by the International Covenants of the Human Rights. This unit focuses on the right to freedom of expression, which is the one upon which all other rights depend, and which is needed for assuring democracy. This right serves as an example to show how starkly rights in different situations may compete with individual or social values. Since the internet and social media enlarge the impact of this right, it often becomes evident that what can be said in one place may provoke violent responses in another place of the world. Rights cause also intrapersonal tensions and ambivalent attitudes for conflicting with underlying personal core values. Conflicting values and rights cannot be solved in a general manner but case by case. A theoretical introduction as well as (dilemma based) examples shall incite the students to systematically discuss rights in the context of other rights, values and norms, to recognize their conflictive potential for society and for individuals. They should also become aware of the fact that their own "inner" values influence their behavior and their views on specific issues.
Speaking about the right to freedom of expression immediately leads us to notions of tolerance, dignity, racism and the role of languages in migration societies, which will be the topic of units 7-9.