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Harvard University Press

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Health and Human Rights

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The pursuit and acknowledgment of the truth of past atrocities and human rights abuses are critical processes in transitional societies. While truth commissions have become a central part of achieving these goals, there has historically been minimal attention to the role of teachers and students in this work. Critical and thoughtful teaching about the past conflict, however, may help prevent the reoccurrence of atrocities, promote acknowledgment and accountability of the past (which, in turn, fosters psychosocial healing), and support the construction of a peaceful society. In this paper, I detail a research collaboration with Colombia’s truth commission to aid its pedagogical efforts to develop effective resources and support Colombian educators’ instruction about the truth of past atrocities. I first draw on the literature to demonstrate the potential for education—and, specifically, teachers—to support the goals of truth commissions. Then, I describe the Colombian context and this specific collaboration. Finally, I end by presenting preliminary findings from surveys of teachers across Colombia and detailing future directions.


Published version. Health and Human Rights, Vol. 23, No. 1 (2021, June): 91-103. Link. © 2021 Harvard University Press. Used with permission.

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