- Downloads & Materials
- Resources & Links
Harm Reduction, Health Workforce, US Policies
Step 1: Assess Your Current Curriculum, School’s Resources, & Curriculum Reform Processes
Conduct research with your group to determine where your curriculum stands now and what steps must be taken for improvement:
- Research the school’s website and coursework catalogs to find out what health and human rights information is already included in your curriculum. To find out about the current curriculum statues, you can also talk to 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students. It’s best to have this information before approaching any faculty or administration.
- Take note of the most natural, ideal avenues in existing curricula offerings for integrating health and human rights education. Common examples are: electives, HHR-related programming in Doctoring courses, practicum additions to existing courses, HR integration in Medical Ethics, or HHR enrichment rotations.
- Decide if you are trying to reform the pre-clinical curriculum, clerkships, or both. If you do not have a strong preference, you may want to discuss the various options for reform when you speak with the Dean of Education or the curriculum reform committee.
- Once you have a sense of the best avenue, map out who is involved your institution’s process for this type of curriculum change. Each school is structured differently. This research is crucial as it enable you to build a curriculum reform strategy that addresses your school’s unique needs. Specifics to consider in your research.
- Find out the names/departments of those involved with the entire process, from who is responsible for introducing curriculum change discussion to committee agendas to who gives final approval, and protocol for reaching them. Do you submit a proposal with the Dean of Education? Do you make a presentation in front of the curriculum reform committee?
- Check to see if your school has a curriculum reform committee, who it comprises and if students are allowed to join. If they are, encourage a couple key chapter members to join your leadership team.
- Identify influential people on your campus and what they bring to the table. Plan to ask them to help you with this important work.
- Inquire with the Curriculum Committee or Deans about the most recent previous curriculum change initiatives to explore those strategies and the lessons learned.
Once you have mapped out the processes for implementing curriculum change, conduct a resource assessment to help guide the design of your new curriculum.
- When deciding which subjects you may want to cover, the follow factors may guide you: expressed student interests, human rights challenges seen in your community, issues addressed by nearby organizations, active faculty, or partnerships with your academic institution.
- Note: The following are some suggested topics that PHR has already gathered information on: The Human Rights Framework & the Right to Health; Conflict & Medical Neutrality; Health Systems; HIV/AIDS and other pandemic diseases; Detention & Asylum; Women’s and/or Maternal Health; Medical Ethics.
- Examine the resources available to your group through your school, community, and PHR as you consider the curriculum’s format and content. This can be done through similar research tactics used to learn about existing curriculum and curriculum reform processes.
- Make sure you review all of the provided materials in the Health and Human Rights Education Toolkit , the Syllabi Databases  and the Student-Created Curriculum  page. All of these resources provide education content for your use.
- We also recommend you check out our Develop Resources guide .
Step 2: Build a Leadership Core
- Present your HHRE initiative to your student chapter, faculty advisor (and other faculty he or she recommends). Garnering interest and in support, provide opportunities for interested students and faculty to take leadership in the various tasks and responsibilities of the initiative. As a core team starts to solidify, ensure there are communications and decision making systems in place so that all are informed, engaged, and effectively contributing to the group. If you want to set up a leadership retreat to solidify your group, read our Retreat Guide .
- Set realistic goals and time-lines for the group’s work. To help in this process, PHR will would happy to help connect you with student chapters who have engaged their school in curricula change so you can see what worked for them.
- For publicity of your curriculum initiative, make sure members of your group practice making a quick, two minute pitch on the importance of health and human rights education curriculum reform. This can be used when speaking with students, faculty, administrators and others. For guidance, read our Sample Pitch. 
Step 3: Rally Support
For the administration to even consider adding a health and human rights component to the curriculum, they need to know that students are interested and would participate.
- Speak to students at your PHR chapter meetings, via emails, or at informal settings about the need for curriculum reform to gauge who would comprise the core team for this initiative. If you do not already have a chapter, please contact The National Student Program Coordinator  for tips about how to identify those students on your campus who may want to get involved in this initiative.
- Consider partnering with other organizations at your school with similar interests. There is strength in numbers! See our Guide for Potential Partner Groups and Tips for Collaboration .
- Polling students about their interest in health and human rights education can provide you with excellent data-driven advocacy ammunition. Having concrete numbers will push the administration to realize that this is a needed change.
- See our survey template  and Virginia Commonwealth University’s completed survey  as examples. The surveys should provide you with both quantitative and qualitative information about a desire for curriculum change and can later be presented in a professional way to curriculum committees and administrators.
- Provide a tiered variety of opportunities for students to help support the initiative, from helping to foster relationship with faculty to simply tabling a day to collect survey feedback, so that students of varying time capacity may help with the initiative.
Faculty advocates are often significantly influential in the curriculum reform process.
- Research faculty members who have demonstrated interest in health and human rights and request an informational meeting with them to explain the need for reform in the medical school curriculum and the proposed ideas you have developed.
- Ask them for their opinion on what can be done to implement health and human rights education reforms and how to surmount any possible barriers you may face.
- If they demonstrate interest in your initiative, work with them to establish concrete steps they can take to help support the project.
- Holding these kinds of meetings early on in the process will help you understand the rationale behind the current curriculum, direct the path of your reform efforts, build support for your campaign and prevent higher-ups from being blindsided by your work.
- See our Guide for Building Relationships with Faculty  for tips and sample agendas.
Step 4: Implement a Curriculum Reform Strategy
- Set up a meeting with the administration, the curriculum coordinator committee or any other body responsible for making curriculum reform decisions at your school. Make sure your faculty supporter is able to attend the meeting as well. A sample power point presentation  is available in the toolkit.
- Address the following points in your meetings:
- Importance of health and human rights education reform.
- Results of the student survey.
- Organization Support. Many lecture materials and handouts have already been provided by PHR. Show them some of the sample readings and materials that can be given to students.
- Potential sources of funding for the curriculum change. See our Funding Resources and Tips for Finding Funds  guide for ideas.
- Understanding of different options for reform, including electives, curriculum tracks, conferences, regularly scheduled round-tables, symposiums, etc.
- Student recruitment and school reputation benefits. Tell them that this curriculum addition would be a wonderful way to recruit more students interested in human rights and social advocacy to your medical school.
- Recognition of other medical schools who have added a health and human rights component to their curriculum. This list can be printed directly from the PHR Student Program website.
- Scholarly articles that demonstrate the need for this education. See our Academic Literature page  that provides these type of articles.
Step 5: Keep in touch with the PHR Student Program Office
We can provide you with a variety of resources to implement reform,but we need your help too! Curriculum reform can sometimes be a multi-year process. By keeping the PHR national office in the loop on your work, we can better support future PHR members at your school to continue where you left off.
You will also note that this guide does not cover in detail the process for designing the curriculum your chapter wishes to implement. This is because that process varies depending on the type of course, the topics addressed, and the curriculum reform process at each school. The Student Program is committed to help support you in this process. By personally staying connected with the Student Program, we will be able to best link you to the appropriate resources and support throughout your unique curriculum creation process.
Tell us what worked at your school and what didn’t so we can provide you with better support. Contact The National Student Program Coordinator .
Step 1: Assess Your Current Curriculum, School’s Resources, & Curriculum Reform Processes Conduct research with your group to determine where your curriculum stands now and what steps must be taken for improvement: Research the school’s website and coursework catalogs to … Continue reading
Gauging your peers’ interest in health and human rights is one of the most important ways to not only show that you value and respect their unique perspectives and experiences, but to also better understand and respond to their needs when designing HHR curriculum.— Mona Singh, Student Chapter Leader, Virginia Commonwealth University Medical College
A survey assessing student interest in human rights education can both illustrate popular demand on campus for HHRE and help you publicize your campaign and recruit more supporters amongst the student body.
PHR has created a survey template , which can be personalized to suit your health and human rights education priorities. Virginia Commonwealth University’s Cultural Competency and Interest Assessment  is a good example of a customized survey.
Ideas for circulating the survey:
- Create the survey on Survey Monkey and email the link to all of your classmates and campus listserves
- Post the survey on Facebook or Twitter profiles
- Have a mini pre-class presentation and distribute the survey in classes
- Ask your faculty advisor and their colleagues to email it to their students or pass it out in class
- Go to high-traffic areas on campus and ask students to fill it out
Sample Course Evaluation
Course assessment it crucial to demonstrate that it is an effective class. As you propose a continuation of the curriculum, present this evaluation to exemplify your comprehensive planning and understanding of the needed materials for a formal university course.
PHR has created a basic course evalution template , which can be a key tool in confirming the impact of your course and recognizing the course’s strengths and weaknesses. Columbia University used this Course Evaluation  after their first elective offering
Gauging your peers’ interest in health and human rights is one of the most important ways to not only show that you value and respect their unique perspectives and experiences, but to also better understand and respond to their needs … Continue reading
The following databases provide a variety of educational content for your use in designing and implementing health and human rights courses. All three offer comprehensive resources with many useful educational tools, such as syllabi, teaching modules, and classroom materials.
- PHR has partnered with the University of California, Berkeley to provide health and human rights educational content through Berkeley’s web-based collaboration and learning environment, bSpace .
- Chapter members can access lecture and presentation slides, discussion guides and readings on health and human rights topics ranging from “Human Rights Law and Governing Bodies” to “Medical Ethics in Armed Conflict.” Email The National Student Program Coordinator 
- to get a username and password.
- See the How to Use bSpace  guide for more information on what the site offers.
Visit: bSpace 
Harvard School of Public Health – Health and Human Rights Syllabi Database
- This online database offers health and human rights syllabi from 26 accredited medical and public health universities.
- The courses listed offer a variety of health and human rights focuses and cover a range of issues including law, reproductive health, social activism and fundamental concepts of human rights.
Global Health Education Consortium (GHEC) Modules
- GHEC has developed over 50 comprehensive learning modules  on a range of global health subjects. All of the modules have been created in coalition with student organizations, NGOs and universities as well as being peer-reviewed by faculty and field-tested by students.
- The learning modules can be used for medical, public health, or nursing students and can be self-instructional or an instructor led-course.
- Each module is fully developed and extensive enough to be used as a full course, and include assessment tools at the end.
The following databases provide a variety of educational content for your use in designing and implementing health and human rights courses. All three offer comprehensive resources with many useful educational tools, such as syllabi, teaching modules, and classroom materials. bSpace … Continue reading
Making the syllabus for our HHR course at Washington University SOM was a very natural process that involved a lot of brainstorming which speakers we knew who could give great lectures on HHR topics of interest to us and doing some research to find others who could talk about issues that hadn’t been raised before by student group events. Once we had a list of all the speakers and topics they would address, it was simply a matter of organizing the lectures in a logical order, which really just meant starting with an introductory lecture on the historical context of the notion of a Right to Health, as well as collecting articles and readings that were relevant and of an appropriate depth for the nature of the course.
– Nick Reeves, former chapter leader, Washington University School of Medicine
Three Tips on How to Create a Class Syllabus
By the Washington University PHR Student Chapter
- Start your elective with a class introducing the background and historical context of the notion of a Right to Health, starting with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. You should be able to find a professor at an affiliated or nearby University who would be willing to give this lecture without compensation.
- Think of all the lunch lectures or other student group events you’ve attended that have addressed issues pertaining to Health and Human Rights and make a list of all the speakers you would like to invite to give guest lectures on particular topics. Send each potential speaker an email requesting that they give a lecture for your student-organized HHR elective. Most of the speakers will be happy to contribute an hour or two of their time. Then you just need to determine what dates would work best for all the speakers and start filling in the lecture slots.
- Do some research! Search the Internet and websites for various local universities to look for professors/academics who focus on issues pertaining to HHR that you would like to include as topics for your elective. You may be surprised by how many speakers you can find to address topics such as torture by US forces, global health and HIV/AIDS issues, or any other HHR issue that you are passionate about. Then simply contact each potential speaker with an email or phone call requesting that they give a lecture for your student-organized HHR elective.
Sample Student-Created Syllabi
The following syllabi were created by PHR student chapters and are available as a guide and resource. If you have questions for these chapters please email The National Student Program Coordinator  to get in touch with them.
Making the syllabus for our HHR course at Washington University SOM was a very natural process that involved a lot of brainstorming which speakers we knew who could give great lectures on HHR topics of interest to us and doing … Continue reading
Template Presentation for Your Curriculum Initiative
PHR has designed a PowerPoint template  that can help ensure your proposal presentations are clear, concise, educational and effective. This kind of organized, formal presentation will be a critical tool to garner support and implement your initiative.
Possible Venues to Feature the Presentation
- Meeting(s) with faculty or university administration
- Presentations to education and/or curriculum committees
- Health and Human Rights Education launch party
- Student organization/club/chapter meetings
- Conferences, colloquiums, or symposiums
- Outreach and publicity events
- Presentation Template  – This downloadable PowerPoint template allows you to personalize the presentation and add your university’s priorities and proposals: Template Presentation
- Sample Presentation  – Bridging the Gap: A Student-Driven Model for Cultural Competency and Human Rights Education , Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine’s PowerPoint presentation for their curricula reform proposal
Template Presentation for Your Curriculum Initiative PHR has designed a PowerPoint template that can help ensure your proposal presentations are clear, concise, educational and effective. This kind of organized, formal presentation will be a critical tool to garner support and … Continue reading
Collaboration with faculty members will be critical in designing and implementing human rights curriculum. Faculty can have a wealth of valuable information about navigating through your school’s administration and can offer thoughtful contributions and advice. A good relationship with a faculty member can also make your case much stronger in the wider university community.
Finding Interested Faculty
- Use your networking skills and current relationships on campus to find out who are the best faculty members to approach.
- Do some research online and on campus to find out if your initiatives coincide with any faculty member’s interests or if they have done educational reform before.
- Engage your chapter faculty advisor by explaining your initiatives and ask him/her to connect you with any other relevant university members.
- Approach your current professors and attempt to collaborate with them. If they are not able to work with you then ask them to put you in contact with someone who can.
- Arrange meetings with department heads and present your plans and ideas to them; ask them what your next steps should be and who you could be in touch with to strengthen your efforts.
Examples of What They Can Offer
- Expertise and experience in the design of the course (regarding topics, format, and resources available).
- Institutional knowledge for determining the best people to connect with/venues to navigate.
- Access or ideas for funding sources.
- Ideas for building legitimacy and need for the course.
- Editing assistance for any proposals or documents that you need to submit to the school.
Faculty members are extremely busy. To ensure accountability on their part, it is best to develop an ongoing work plan with them for getting everything approved and taken care of.
Sample Email for Initial Contact
Dear [insert name],
My name is [insert name] and I am [chapter position] at the Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) [school name] chapter. I am contacting you because our chapter is in the process of trying to incorporate a health and human rights curriculum into the [type of school, i.e. SPH] and I want to invite you to be a part of our efforts.
Our student chapter recognizes the strong link between health and human rights and understands the importance of incorporating the health and human rights paradigm into our academic training to become the most effective and knowledgeable health professionals we can be.
The PHR National Student Program is committed to supporting our chapter in putting this curriculum in place and will provide us with as many resources as possible. I believe with your support, our chapter could be much more successful in reaching our goal of implementing this critical educational framework. Your expertise and institutional knowledge would be instrumental in applying a curriculum like this.
I would be thrilled if we could set up a time to discuss this project further. Please contact me via email at [insert email address] or phone at [insert phone number]. I look forward to speaking with you.
Appendix: Criteria Checklist for Ensuring Effective Meetings with Faculty
The following checklists will help ensure your meetings with faculty are comprehensive and build needed individual and departmental commitment and investment in HHRE. Please note that these lists are loosely suggested checklists for the first three meetings to provide general direction. They are flexible, depending on the pace of progress you have as you continue to meet.
First-time Meeting Agenda – Checklist:
- Explain the need for a formal health and human rights educational curriculum
- Explain your chapter’s vision for establishing the curriculum and framework
- Explain the connection to them or the reason you have approached this specific faculty member
- Invite them to get involved
- Give him/her concrete examples of ways to get involved, such as:
- Aiding in the publicity and advocacy for gaining support
- Suggesting funding sources and/or ideas
- Planning and designing the proposed course and curriculum
- Teaching or facilitating the course
- Recruiting other faculty or administrative members to get involved
- Providing the necessary university contacts for getting new curriculum in place
- Schedule follow-up meeting and next steps
Second-time Meeting Agenda – Checklist:
- Give update on the work that you have done and where you are in the process
- Go through and review all of the resources and materials you have
- Brainstorm ideas for the proposal to the university or come to an agreement on one
- Discuss a tentative timeline for the work that needs to be done
- Schedule follow-up meeting and next steps
Third-time Meeting Agenda – Checklist:
- Give update on the status of your work
- Establish a work-plan for what needs to be done
- Revise timeline or create new one to fit with the work-plan and try to set deadlines for work that needs to be done by you and the faculty member
- Make plans for following up and next steps
Collaboration with faculty members will be critical in designing and implementing human rights curriculum. Faculty can have a wealth of valuable information about navigating through your school’s administration and can offer thoughtful contributions and advice. A good relationship with a … Continue reading
Funding may be critical to your health and human rights initiative.
What May Require Funding
- Speaker honorariums or other related expenses
- Outreach materials or publicity events
- Course materials and books
- Possible technology equipment or other facilities costs
How to Find the Funds
- No matter who you go to: do not be afraid to ask
- Assign a funding coordinator, who can take ownership for investigating what kind of funding options are out there. The research can be done through the internet or the student activities and student government offices at the university (see below ‘Sources of Funding’ section).
- Use your on and off campus connections to learn of funding resources and possible outlets for in-kind donations.
- Meet with deans and your faculty advisor to find out what funding options your university and local community has to offer.
- Plan a fundraising event. There are numerous events you could do, from a simple bake sale to organizing a full night of entertainment. This can be a great way to make money, raise the awareness about the curricula initiatives, and strengthen your team by having fun with your fellow chapter members and peers.
PHR ‘Fundraising for Your Chapter Guide’
This is an excellent resource  for learning the best strategies to fundraise and find donations. It also includes a variety of solicitation sample letters.
- In-kind donations are valuable options for fulfilling your project’s needs. They can be in the form of actual goods/supplies or using someone’s time and services for free or at little cost. In-kind donations are commonly solicited to alleviate some of the costs for needed equipment or supplies. Local businesses and restaurants are good places to start your search.
- Asking for in-kind donations can often-times be a lot easier than asking for money.
- Sample letter of acknowledgment after receiving and in-kind donation.
Sources for Finding Funds:
- The Arnold P. Gold Foundation 
- FoundationSearch  (Check your school and local libraries to get membership access.)
- Foundation Center  (Check your school and local libraries to get membership access.)
- Fundsnet Services 
- Proposal Write 
- The Grantsmanship Center 
- Idealist.org Funding Sources 
- Excess Access 
- Techsoup 
- Wa$teMatch’s Nonprofit Wish List (This is New York-specific resource. Research online to find a version in your state.)
Funding may be critical to your health and human rights initiative. What May Require Funding Speaker honorariums or other related expenses Outreach materials or publicity events Course materials and books Possible technology equipment or other facilities costs How to Find … Continue reading
Partnering and collaborating with other university student groups is an important step in gathering support, presence, and action for educational reform. The more endorsements and backing you have, the stronger your case will be for implementing this curriculum. Below are some resources for finding the right groups to partner with and some tips and strategies for how best to collaborate with your partners.
Tips for Collaboration
- Seek out similar student groups or clubs that have missions or educational goals common to PHR. Find the contact information of these groups on your university website.
- Contact your student government to see if they would like to get involved or if they can give you any support.
- Brainstorm and work with the other groups to develop a common proposal and strategy for getting the education reforms implemented.
- Develop a communications plan in order to ensure everyone’s voice gets heard and all members involved feel comfortable with the work being planned and put forward.
- Assign clear roles so everyone is on the same page and understands what is expected of them.
- Keep communication open among everyone as much as possible in order to minimize misunderstandings.
- PHR’s Guide for Collaborating With Other Groups  provides more detail on effective strategies and tips for developing and maintaining collaborations.
Examples of Student Groups to Partner With
- American Medical Association (AMA)
- American Medical School Association (AMSA)
- American Medical Women’s Association
- Amnesty International chapters involved in Human Rights Education
- Physicians for Social Responsibility
- Other groups in the University Coalitions for Global Health 
Some Relevant Groups
- Human Rights/Social Justice Advocacy
- Global Health/Global Awareness
- Community Development/ Community Health
- Women’s Rights
- Humanitarian Action/ International Development
- HIV/AIDS, or other prominent disease-based groups
- Demographic-Specific groups (ethnicities, cultures, LGBT, etc.)
- Student Government/Student Council
Partnering and collaborating with other university student groups is an important step in gathering support, presence, and action for educational reform. The more endorsements and backing you have, the stronger your case will be for implementing this curriculum. Below are … Continue reading
Here is a general guide to creating a “pitch” to introduce your initiative to a class, at a networking event, in a meeting, or any other public event.
- Overview: Who you are, how long you’re going to take, what information you’re going to cover. (15 sec.)
- Introduction: Describe your chapter, your mission/goal, how long it has been on campus, and any other important information about the group. (30 sec.)
- Legitimize your Project: Describe the necessity for an understanding of human rights for the health profession. In addition to PHR’s language  and on the importance and results of any student or faculty-interest surveys, see the Academic Literature  page for key stats, facts, and discussion points to back your argument. (15 sec.)
- Problem: Describe the void in your current curriculum/school experience that your group’s initiative is trying to address. (30 sec.) Ex: despite the intrinsic connection between health and human rights, there is no academic outlet to address this.
- Solution: What your group is doing about the problem. Describe your course or educational program in one to two sentences, including what students would be able to take from it. (30 sec.)
- Involvement: What students can do to get involved. (1 min.) Ex: From Participating in a student-interest survey to assist in the curriculum creation.
- Personal Appeal: Why this is personally important for you and how this new curriculum will benefit the students’ knowledge and abilities. (15 sec.)
- Thanks: Thank your audience for their time and attention. (5 sec.)
Max Time: 3 min. 35 sec.
Here is a general guide to creating a “pitch” to introduce your initiative to a class, at a networking event, in a meeting, or any other public event. Overview: Who you are, how long you’re going to take, what information … Continue reading