Declaration Project



France has a long history of human rights advocacy: the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, the Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen, the abolition of monarchy, the separation of religion from the public realm, the end of noble privileges, the decriminalization of homosexuality, the abolition of slavery, and a social support structure that includes universal healthcare. These revolutionary advances, however, are contrasted by the brutal and hypocritical repression of elements of society: the Reign of Terror, Colonialism, torture in the Algerian war, La Rafle during WW2, police brutality in the banlieues, and racial tensions in contemporary France. The perfect embodiment of this contrast is WW2: on one side are French Collaborators serving the Germans, on the other are the French Resistance fighting underground in alliance with the Allies.

“The representatives of the French people, organized as a National Assembly, believing that the ignorance, neglect, or contempt of the rights of man are the sole cause of public calamities and of the corruption of governments, have determined to set forth in a solemn declaration the natural, unalienable, and sacred rights of man…” – Declaration of the Rights of Man, 1789

This project aims to foster student reflection on individual freedom. How has the history of human rights in France (from the French Revolution to World War 2) impacted contemporary life? Students are to select one historical figure and to reflect on how this has impacted their personal status in society or their life in a broader sense. The figure can be an advocate or opponent of human rights.

The Honors College is interdisciplinary in nature and welcomes new approaches to course projects.

The format the Declaration Project takes is open: fiction, non-fiction, prose, poetry, drawing, painting, film, sculpture, collage, photography, or other means. The final product, however, must be submitted digitally. Projects must be presented in class. This can be a film screening, a reading, or a slideshow.

If making a film, existing images may be appropriated, but they must be altered in some manner. For example, the work must be heavily edited heavily or distorted it in some manner. Actors, editors and/or other film crew may be recruited, under the condition that the student retain the role of director. The film must be the student’s ideas and he/she must oversee every aspect of it, but responsibilities must be delegated.

Films and slideshows must be uploaded onto the internet, on Facebook or Youtube (free). Please make sure to test your upload prior to attending class.

These following factors will be considered in determining the project grade.

Familiarity with subject
The nature of the connection between student and subject
The broader context of the student’s reflection (Can others relate to the points made in the project)
Originality of content

Below is a list of figures to select from. If the student wishes to select another, that choice needs to be approved by the professor. Each character may only be selected by one student.

Marie Antoinette (1755-1793)
Lucie Aubrac (1912 – 2007) and Raymond Aubrac (1914 – 2012)
Marc Bloch (1886 – 1944)
Jean-Jacques-Regis de Cambaceres (1753-1824)
Nicolas de Condorcet (1743-1794)
Georges Danton (1759 – 1794)
Jacques-Louis David (1748 – 1825)
Camille Desmoulins (1760 – 1794)
Marie-Madeleine Fourcade (1909 – 1989)
Charles de Gaulle (1890 – 1970)
Olympe de Gouges (1748 – 1793)
Joseph-Ignace Guillotin (1738-1814)
Francois Jacob (1920 – 2013)
Marquis de La Fayette (1757-1834)
Pauline Léon (1768 – 1838)
Louis XVI (1754 – 1793)
Tom Morel (1915 – 1944)
Jean Moulin (1899 – 1943)
Maximilien Robespierre (1758-1794)
Rose Valland (1899-1980)
Simone Annie Liline Veil (1927-2017)

Although the subject is specific to Italy study abroad, Stephanie Sepulveda’s Grand Tour Redux project is a model of what a successful project should be. Stephanie’s reflections are personal yet universal and do not shy away from the big ideas and tough questions. Her scope is also interdisciplinary in nature. Review her project here Stephanie Sepulveda’s Grand Tour Redux