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 .