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AAAS Science, Technology and Human Rights Conference 2019: Program

This agenda is preliminary and is subject to change

This three-day conference brings together human rights leaders from around the world, academic researchers across different disciplines, scientists and engineers who work in private industry, government officials, members of impacted and vulnerable communities, and students in science, engineering, human rights, health and law. Together we will take stock of progress made towards building effective partnerships between the scientific community and human rights communities, share lessons learned, and develop collaborative, multidisciplinary approaches to the most urgent human rights challenges ahead of us.

Thursday, October 24, 2019


Breakfast Roundtables


Opening Speaker (To be announced)


Using Scientific Tools to Counter Illegal Land Acquisition from Local and Indigenous Communities

Many examples exist of companies promoting infrastructure developments and their allies in government violating human rights to a healthy environment by presenting false land use data in environmental impact assessments (EIAs). Developers, eager to push through regulatory processes, are often not held accountable to local laws or international best practices. At the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW), an international NGO that operates pro bono, teams of scientists and attorneys support public interest lawyers working in their home countries to prevent illegal and environmentally destructive developments that threaten human rights. This panel will describe three instances—in Honduras, India, and Liberia—where maps, land use, and/or ownership data have been falsified by project proponents in an effort to corrupt the EIA process and undermine legitimate land claims by communities at proposed project sites. We will discuss the tactics used by the project proponents and strategies to restore rights and ownership. Following our presentation of these three case studies, we will lead a facilitated discussion with the audience to explore novel solutions from the scientific and human rights communities.

Alfred Brownell, Distinguished Scholar in Residence, Northeastern University School of Law
Gerene Grant, Bay Islands Development Organization (BIDO) and Inclusion and Preservation of the Afro English Speaking People (IPABESP)
Laura Palmese Hernandez, Environmental Lawyer, Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide
Heidi Weiskel (Moderator), Staff Scientist, Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide


Supporting Science and Human Rights by Creating Effective Advising Networks for Displaced Scientists

Increasingly, academic scientists have been forced into exile. Hundreds of universities around the world have served as temporary or longer-term hosts to displaced scientists, either through informal networks or structured programs such as the Institute of International Education Scholar Rescue Fund (IIE-SRF). In spite of these programs, there are a broad range of obstacles to displaced scientists resuming their scientific careers. In 2017, IIE-SRF launched the Partnerships for Scholar Advancement (PSA), a network of partner organizations and individuals committed to providing IIE-SRF fellows with opportunities for career advancement and professional development during and after their IIE-SRF fellowships. PSA connects participating scholars to opportunities through a network of institutions and individual partners across the academic, not-for-profit, and corporate sectors. Through the Partnerships for Scholar Advancement, IIE-SRF has assembled a network of individuals and organizations to provide opportunities and advising services beyond the assistance that host universities can provide. In this presentation, we will look at the results of these partnerships, and discuss opportunities for providing more effective advising networks for displaced scientists.

Florence ChaverneffEditor for Clinical Pain Advisor, Haymarket Media
Olga Gregorian, Senior Advisor, IIE-Scholar Rescue Fund
Sloka Iyengar, Associate Medical Director, Phase Five Communications
Michael J. Martin, Volunteer Mentor, IIE-Scholar Rescue Fund




Concurrent Sessions

(1) Meeting of Scientific Association Human Rights Committees

Members of the human rights committees, sections, and affinity groups within science and technology associations are invited to this discussion. Among the topics to be discussed are the respective missions, mandates, and activities of the various groups and how the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition could support more effective collaboration between the groups.

Jessica Wyndham (Moderator), AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program

(2) Monitoring Human Rights in Conflict: The Use of Drones is Still a Chimera

Human rights have a potential new technological ally: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

Many people only perceive them through a military lens, believing that “any drone is a killer drone”. However, policymakers and researchers seek to increase awareness about the positive features of drone technologies, especially where direct access on foot is restricted due to armed conflicts. The purpose of this workshop is to kick off a discussion and lay the foundations for improving and increasing the monitoring and reporting of human rights and humanitarian law violations through drones. Using the drone operations of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine as a case study, presenters and participants will discuss technical and political ideas to step up the contribution of UAVs in the human rights sphere and the dilemmas current UAV technology raises, such as direct attacks, jamming and potential abuses of privacy. In addition, the workshop also aims at considering potential positive features, such as the use of Artificial Intelligence and the deployment of control and sensing architectures for cooperative drones.

Cono Giardullo, Associate Fellow, Italian Institute of International Affairs (IAI)
Maryline Laurent, Professor, Télécom SudParis, Institut polytechnique de Paris
Cristina M. Pinotti, Professor, University of Perugia
Enrico Natalizio, Professor, Université de Lorraine

(3) Transformative Undergraduate Experiential Learning and Advocacy at the Intersection of Science and Human Rights

What is the best way to engage undergraduate students in learning, advocacy and action at the intersection of science and human rights? This panel consists of students, faculty, and staff coming from a diverse disciplines, perspectives, and experiences from the University of Dayton. It seeks to demonstrate action-oriented and timely approaches to integrating science and human rights in experiential learning, based on evidence of successful programmatic outcomes which impact undergraduate students, the campus, and the community. It seeks to draw out from a diverse set of students, faculty, and staff perspectives what works and doesn’t work in innovative collaborations across science and human rights at the undergraduate level. The session will include real life examples and offer participants insights into student learning, skills building and transdisciplinary models that could be considered for use in other University settings.

Kelly E. Bohrer, Director of Community Relations, School of Engineering, University of Dayton
Rachel Carr, Undergraduate Student, University of Dayton




Concurrent Sessions

(1) Supporting At-Risk and Refugee Scholars in Our Research Institutions and Communities

The Global Young Academy (GYA)'s At-Risk Scholars Initiative provides support for at-risk academics around the world. This workshop will present the GYA At-Risk Scholar Initiative model. Two scholars currently taking part in the mentoring program will be discussion leaders, speaking from the perspective of at-risk academics and their specific needs to re-establish their careers. The workshop aims to share the concept of the mentoring program as an example of addressing an acute human rights issue. Furthermore, it aims to elicit feedback on how to improve the program, to explore how different organizations can collaborate to support at-risk academics in our research institutions and communities, and to learn from others’ experiences. Intended workshop attendees include at-risk scholars, university administrators, researchers, and practitioners who work with at-risk populations.

Uzeyir Ogurlu, Lecturer, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
Burcu Seyben, Refugee Theatre Scholar
Teresa Stoepler, Co-lead, At-Risk Scholar Initiative, The Global Young Academy

(2) Evaluating and Expanding the American Psychological Association's Human Rights Engagement

This session will explore how the American Psychological Association (APA), a founding member of the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition, is evaluating and expanding its human rights work. While APA conducts a great deal of work relevant to human rights, this is the Association’s first attempt to rigorously catalogue and understand the scope of the work in order to provide a roadmap moving forward, and potentially offers a model for other scientific associations to follow. APA formed a Task Force on Human Rights, comprising scientists and health professionals, to define human rights as it relates to psychology, review APA’s recent and ongoing human rights activities, and recommend actions for ensuring APA’s ongoing and visible commitment to human rights. This case study will discuss the work of the Task Force to illustrate the role of scientific organizations in human rights. Although the content is specific to psychology, processes and lessons learned will inform the aspirations of other scientific organizations who may wish to better understand their own human rights work in order to maximize impact and effectiveness.

Kirby Huminuik, Registered Clinical Counsellor, University of British Columbia
Gabriel Twose, Senior Legislative and Federal Affairs Officer, Government Relations Office, American Psychological Association




Defending the Right to Seek Asylum: Practicing Attorney-Scholar Collaborations

This session explores how collaboration between scholars and attorneys can mitigate the continuing threats to the right to seek asylum. High levels of violence in Latin America are driving asylum claims. There is a growing backlog in asylum cases of Latin American migrants—particularly women, children, and unaccompanied minors and LGBTQ persons. Rapidly changing policies seek to alter, defer, and deny the right to seek asylum. There is a pressing need for a joint effort between scientists and frontline attorneys to develop best practices for ethically grounded and evidence-based approaches to expert witnessing. The collaboration showcased in this session addresses how the behavioral scientific community with country-specific expertise can manage the demands of established disciplinary training, methods, and narratives with the rules of evidence as required by courts. The session offers participants a case study in a long-term effective collaboration between the human rights community and the scientific community that provides concrete proposals for the knowledge sharing needed for future collaborations in this area.

Maria Baldini-Potermin, Founder, Baldini-Potermin & Associates, P.C.
Kimberly Gauderman, Faculty Member, University of New Mexico
Elizabeth Hutchison, Director, Feminist Research Institute, University of New Mexico
M. Gabriela Torres, Cultural Anthropologist, American Anthropological Association’s Members Programmatic, Advisory and Advocacy Committee


A Multiperspective Look at Artificial Intelligence for Human Rights Causes

How might artificial intelligence (AI) technology be best utilized for human rights causes? Are resource-constrained organizations able to tap this technology, and are there particular applications where this technology will create the most impact? Seeking to answer and explore these questions, this panel will convene categorically diverse speakers and organizations who have found multiple ways to harness AI for human rights causes. The panel will additionally explore how a coalition of collaborators can best work together to address human-rights-related challenges in specific sectors. Attendees will leave the panel knowing of the AI tools and resources available to advance human rights causes and methods to partner with other organizations in using AI technologies for greatest impact.

Chloe Autio, Policy Analyst - Artificial Intelligence & Privacy Policy, Intel
Nadya Bliss, Director of Global Security Initiative, Arizona State University

Jennifer Ding, Solutions Engineer, Numina
Samir Goswami (Moderator), COO, The Partnership on AI

Shabnam Mojtahedi, Senior Program Manager, Benetech


Featured Speaker

Francella Ochillo

Francella Ochillo, Executive Director, Next Century Cities




Optional Common Table Dinner Groups

Sign up at the registration table throughout the day to join a group of eight to twelve other attendees for dinner together at a local restaurant.