Author: Breck Giltner

The HDC is Our Hope


The Human Dignity Curriculum (HDC), developed by the World Youth Alliance, teaches young people ages 4-18 about the value of the human person, the power to think and to choose, to treat persons as subjects and not objects and to use their freedom for human excellence. It sounds like a tall order, but students are hungry for big ideas that capture their imagination and their heart.

“The HDC is hope,” said Rocio Valdez, an HDC coordinator, who brought the HDC to students in a small town in Paraguay, in the midst of the COVID pandemic. “I think it’s important to teach kids that life is worth it and that their dignity is a given, regardless of the situations they find themselves in. Even if that situation is illness, vulnerability or feeling small.”

Growing in the awareness of their intrinsic value, students begin to see themselves as protagonists in their own education and story. One of the ways the HDC does this is through showcasing the stories and struggles of others. “The stories in the HDC really inspire the students to see that other people have gone through difficult things, too. What makes them a hero is that they chose to do the right thing even when it was hard.” 

The HDC provides students with the
framework to understand being and becoming. In simple terms: that they
are a person with human dignity and that they have the capacity to
pursue human excellence. And that to be a hero is as straightforward as
to choose what is excellent.

There was one student who was very shy and rarely spoke in class. Rocio could tell that this student didn’t feel able to express herself or share her opinion in class. “In this one lesson, we discussed choosing between the hard but excellent choice and the easy but not-so-excellent choice. At the end of the class, this little girl shared with me that it was inspiring to learn that she could make good decisions for all aspects of her life. She was shocked. She said she had never thought that she had dignity, and so she didn’t know that she could make good choices.”

Rocio can only marvel at the changes in that student: “I will never forget watching her at the
end of the course–that jumping, smiling girl was changed–and that was amazing to see.
Teaching young people to love themselves and to love others is what the HDC does.”


Published: January 25, 2022

Written by: Breck Giltner



The HDC in Kenya, A Teacher’s Perspective

The HDC in Kenya, A Teacher’s Perspective

Mr. Zachary, a teacher at St. Catherine Primary School in Kenya, shares the impact that the Human Dignity Curriculum has had on his own teaching and in the ways it has helped him to inspire virtue and character growth in his students. 

“Most of the children have improved and developed a positive attitude as they relate to each other in various activities in school,” he says, “I’ve seen the difference in the way that they play together as well as their learning in the classroom through peer teaching.” 

The HDC starts at a particular point–the value of each individual life–and from there, expands into the cultivation of virtue and the importance of pursuing excellence. 

Mr. Zachary shares that he believes that character and virtue education in children should start as soon as possible. “Right from the beginning,” he states, “the children ought to understand the value of life at a very early stage. The children have really helped to teach me some values that help to develop good morals such as respect, love, responsibility, and justice.” 

Ultimately, one of the foremost goals of education is the flourishing of the human person, and Mr. Zachary states that teachers have a responsibility to foster that flourishing and personal growth as much as possible.

“I teach because it is a call. The Human Dignity Curriculum has helped me to really internalize and reflect on what my role is as a teacher. One of the most important parts of teaching to me is to mold character and foster growth in virtue, and the HDC gives me the tools to do just that.” 

The implementation of the HDC at St. Catherine Primary school began in October 2019, with the help of the Mercy Education Office, and will continue helping to foster virtue and excellence well into the future. 


By: Breck Giltner

Date: January 4, 2021

A Resounding Message: The Human Dignity Curriculum in the Philippines

A Resounding Message: The Human Dignity Curriculum in the Philippines

At the heart of the human dignity curriculum is the challenge to view oneself, one’s friends and family, and all people in the world as beings with inalienable and intrinsic dignity. 

This universal message, that all human beings possess human dignity, is tailored to children and young adults in the Human Dignity Curriculum (HDC), which integrates a truly anthropological view of the human person with historical and real-life examples of heroes who fight and have fought for the recognition of human dignity. 

In the Philippines, implementations of the Human Dignity Curriculum have achieved soaring success.

 Even before the official launch of the Human Dignity Curriculum in 2017, pilot implementations of the program in Mandaluyong City and in two local slum communities in the Philippines were very successful, paving the way for future implementations across the country. 

The vocabulary introduced in the HDC equips students with the ability to express and identify concepts such as dignity, respect, freedom, and solidarity. The program encourages students to view each decision they make and interaction they have in the context of their own personal value and the value of the people around them. 

Aireen Navales, the Founder of Play, Learn and Serve–one of WYA Asia Pacific’s earliest HDC partners, shared, “If (the kids) are formed by the principles and values of WYA and the HDC at a very young age, then just imagine how these can inspire and encourage them to grow (up) with integrity.”

Human Dignity Curriculum implementations have become a reality thanks to the partnership of organizations such as Play, Learn, and Serve in Quezon City, a community-based character development program and one of HDC’s earliest partners, and Project PEARLS, a non-government, non-profit organization with the aim to “help the poorest of the poor children in the Philippines have a better life through education, empowerment, nutrition, and healthcare services.”

In Payatas, Quezon City, the Consuelo “Chito” Madrigal Foundation (CCMF) has supported the implementation of the HDC among a community of distressed families. 

In the southern islands of the Philippines, The Ateneo de Zamboanga University (ADZU) Sugpat Program has integrated the Human Dignity Curriculum into their Alternative School for Peacebuilding and the Arts, where they empower and challenge young people to make informed decisions that respect the value of each person. 

After the success of these implementations and partnerships, the HDC has continued to expand–both geographically and institutionally. 

One of the latest HDC partnerships is with Barangay 746 in Marate, Manila, which serves as the primary implementing unit of government programs and policies within its area of jurisdiction. This partnership is itself a huge step forward, and has already begun to open up avenues for future expansion in both governmental and non-governmental institutions. 

The exponential expansion of the Human Dignity Curriculum in the Philippines will continue to expand in the coming years, and with it, the message that all human beings possess intrinsic, universal, and inalienable dignity.


Original text by: Mary Imbong, Former WYA Asia Pacific Regional Director

Date: June 27, 2019

Facing Challenge with Optimism: Croatia HDC Implementation During Pandemic

Facing Challenge with Optimism: Croatia HDC Implementation During Pandemic

In the spring of 2019, the Human Dignity curriculum was first introduced in Croatia. WYA Croatia chapter members took initiative in implementing the curriculum in two schools–First Catholic Primary School and Primary School Ivan Mestrovic

In First Catholic Primary School, the WYA Croatia chapter members taught the HDC to 8th graders. The students were familiar with the concept of human dignity, but were struck by the personal dimension of the curriculum, which is designed to introduce key ideas in such a way that encourages each student to reflect on their personal circumstances and consider how they can live out what they learn in their daily lives. 

Since the 8th graders are about to transition to secondary school, the students of First Catholic Primary School were particularly grateful for the opportunity to delve into the importance of decision making and ideas on how to effectively choose the good over the bad, but also, how to choose between two good options. Students shared that they would use the skills they learned in the HDC when choosing what to study and how to plan for their future career.

In Primary School Ivan Mestrovic, the HDC was taught to a 5th grade classroom. WYA Croatia chapter members tailored the curriculum to the needs of the students, who, unlike the 8th grade students, are not faced with the task of making serious decisions about their futures just yet. 

Themes and focus points that resonated with the 5th grade students were recognizing the human dignity of each student at school and learning how to respect them for their intrinsic worth. The students were eager to use what they learned from the HDC to resolve conflicts within the classroom and for the opportunity to discuss what human dignity means to them. 

The teachers noted that at the beginning of the program, the 5th grade students had some reservations about discussing human dignity, but as they participated in interactive workshops and activities designed specifically for them, they grew more and more excited. By the end of the program, they were thrilled to discuss their personal heroes, some of whom were their parents, teachers, and grandparents. 

These successful implementations of the Human Dignity Curriculum made the teachers even more excited to continue working with students and discussing human dignity with them, but the outbreak of COVID-19 posed obvious challenges to that plan. 

WYA Croatia chapter members, eager to continue their work, adjusted accordingly and quickly organized the first ever online HDC course.

The demands and challenges posed by a worldwide pandemic made students and teachers that much more invested in and grateful for the opportunity to discuss human dignity and to think of ways to promote and foster a respect for each human person in less than ideal circumstances. 

The introduction of this first-ever online Human Dignity Curriculum opens up new horizons for future implementations and a way to amplify the impact and outreach of the curriculum.


Original version by: Petra Medak

Date: June 20, 2020

Human Dignity Curriculum Partners With Brilla College Prep Charter Schools

Human Dignity Curriculum Partners With Brilla College Prep Charter Schools

“Do people who are old and sick have human dignity? Do people who have committed a crime have dignity? Do our families have dignity? Do children have dignity?” A Brilla College Prep Charter school teacher asked his students, from whom he received a resounding “yes!”

The Human Dignity Curriculum is a unique program that offers students the opportunity to learn more about themselves as human beings, and as a consequence, helps them understand and recognize the human dignity of the people around them.

“For some of them, I think initially, it’s just shock,” said one Brilla teacher, “like, wow, I’m learning about myself, I’m learning about these big ideas that can help me relate to the world and to current events.” 

“I didn’t know what human dignity was or how I felt about it when I was first learning about this,” shared a Brilla student, “then, when we were starting to learn more about it, I felt elated and surprised to learn that everyone has human dignity.” she said. 

The curriculum builds on the notion of human dignity–that it is universal, intrinsic, and inalienable. From a young age, students have the opportunity to delve deeply into what it means to be a human being, and the consequences of living to one’s full potential as such. 

Brilla College Prep Charter school recently added the Human Dignity Curriculum to its academic course plan, an addition that teachers and students alike are excited about. 

“You could hear the listening if that makes sense–,” said a Brilla teacher, “the kids are quiet and engaged when the other kids are talking on these ideas, and I think that for me, as a teacher, that was really awesome to see.” 

The Human Dignity Curriculum does not simply provide information to students, it encourages them to think deeply about their personal circumstances and the people around them in the context of their dignity and intrinsic worth. This critical thinking, which the curriculum is geared to encourage, leads to action both inside and outside the classroom.

“When I heard about dignity,” said one Brilla student, “then I started to realize how I was behaving.” 

Another student said, “I have changed the way I act at home because I used to always just come home, throw my stuff everywhere, and just automatically use my tablet, but now I go home, fold my clothes, clean up my room, and then I ask my mom if there’s anything she needs and if there’s anything she needs me to do for her.” 

Brilla teachers are excited to work with the Human Dignity curriculum because of the classroom culture it builds–the ideas discussed promote a positive view of oneself and of other people.

“I think it’s very real,” said one Brilla teacher, “I think it helps the kids to assume the best about themselves and about each other. We’ve worked with other character programs where it’s about problem solving and getting in touch with our feelings, which is also great, but I think that this teaches the kids to recognize the good things in each other and assume the best in themselves, believe in themselves…,” she said. 

Brilla’s partnership with the Human Dignity Curriculum is an exciting step that will continue to encourage students, their families, and teachers, to keep the dignity and worth of all human beings in mind, each day of the week, inside and outside the classroom. 

“Acting with integrity and honoring the dignity of others,” said a Brilla teacher, “is something we should be modeling all the time because it’s something we should be living ourselves.” The Human Dignity curriculum fosters just that–living an integral life with respect for oneself and other human beings. 



Original version by: Anne Mimille Guzman

Date: December 11, 2017