Teaching complex topics through play.
Human rights laws can be problematic — not only in their real-world applications, but also in people’s basic understanding of their scope and purpose.
It’s often challenging to explain difficult and abstract legal ideas to people unfamiliar with how the law works. Much of the current education on this topic lacks effective and relatable teaching — it’s solemn, dense, and uninviting.
Associate Professor Helen Hall and Professor Tom Lewis from Nottingham Law School (NLS) believe it’s crucial for people of all ages to learn about human rights, and how the laws apply to different people. Their board game, A Brave New World, is a fun, accessible take on the legal principles of human rights.
The game invites players to adopt either a majority or minority character (based on gender, race or religion) in a fantasy world. Players choose which laws get passed, with some causing hardship or discrimination against the minorities in the game. By using the tools of human rights and the principles of constitutionalism, and — if all else fails — revolution, players can create a fairer world for all the characters to inhabit.
Co-created with Professor Javier Garcia Oliva from the University of Manchester, the game is based on Helen and Tom’s research. It is shaped by the work of political philosophers like John Rawls, John Locke, and Thomas Hobbes. By stepping into the shoes of unfamiliar characters, players see the world from new perspectives.
The game allows players to learn from experience how human rights work – feeling what it’s like to be an oppressed minority or a leader wielding power. By playing, talking and reflecting, individuals can quickly get to grips with complex human rights issues.
Our researchers have already introduced the game across various UK schools and universities, with plans for many more. They've also used it in schools in Belgium, Chile, and even a law firm in Nottingham. Nottingham Law School has also included the game in their LLB course.
The vision of game-based learning continues. They are now developing several spin-off projects based on the game, including escape rooms (in collaboration with the Manchester Museum and the National Trust), and a digital version of the game for classrooms worldwide.
If you want more information about the board game, or want to use it in your organisation, please contact Helen and Tom on: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
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Centre for Rights and Justice
The Centre for Rights and Justice (CRJ) was established in 2013. It is an inclusive Centre with a diverse membership, bringing together research, practice and scholarship, in the broad areas of human rights and criminal justice.
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