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Call for Proposals: 2020 AAAS Science, Technology and Human Rights Conference


Deadline: May 7, 2020

The AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition, a network of scientific and engineering membership organizations that recognize a role for science and scientists in human rights, invites proposals for its upcoming conference in Washington, DC, October 22-23, 2020. All scholars, including students, as well as practitioners and community organizers, are encouraged to submit a proposal. Proposals from those whose human rights are being threatened and who urgently need a platform for their voices to be heard so that their human rights can be respected are especially welcomed.

Building on the emerging needs and opportunities identified during the 2019 conference, the 2020 Science, Technology and Human Rights Conference will focus on urgent human rights issues around the world that could most benefit from the contributions of scientists, engineers, and health professionals working in partnership with human rights NGOs and frontline communities. For example, sessions might address:

  • New developments and applications in science and technology that support human rights documentation, monitoring, strategic communications, campaigning, and advocacy;
  • Strategies for tackling human rights challenges associated with the conduct of science and applications of technology, including ethical guidelines and codes of conduct;
  • Successful approaches to building collaborative civic science projects for human rights;
  • Innovative uses of scientific methods and tools for monitoring impacts of human rights efforts;
  • The human rights of students, scholars, academics and researchers in places where conflict, censorship, and/or structural forms of oppression or discrimination make it difficult for them to continue their work; and
  • Implications of full achievement of the human right to science for populations experiencing increased vulnerability due to political, economic and social structures, for historically marginalized communities (such as persons with disabilities), and for the other human rights connected to the right to science.

Proposals will be evaluated using the following criteria:

  • Action-oriented: Will the session support steps toward real-world impact?
  • Collaborative: Will the session help build new collaborations across science, human rights, and other related sectors? This could be done by sharing examples, offering skills development to support effective collaborations, or creating opportunities during the conference for participants to connect with each other in meaningful ways. The Conference Host Committee will favor sessions that include the perspectives of human rights defenders and impacted communities, and feature members of these communities as speakers.
  • Timely: Will the session address an urgent human rights need or emerging issue at the intersection of science and human rights? Will it provide participants with an opportunity to engage in time-sensitive action?
  • Evidence-based: Will the session share new evidence for successful advocacy and/or collaborations?  
  • Diverse: Proposals that include speakers from diverse sectors, practice areas, geographic regions, knowledge systems, and backgrounds will be favored. The Host Committee is especially interested in proposals that include presentations by human rights defenders, communities whose human rights are threatened, historically marginalized populations, students and/or early career individuals.

Three types of sessions are invited:

  • Panels: These are 75-minute sessions with a moderator and two or three presenters. Panels can address one of two topics:
    • An urgent human rights issue or intractable conflict around which collaborations across human rights, science, engineering, health, and technology offer new or emerging opportunities; or
    • Collaborations between the human rights community and the scientific community to address our shared concerns (for example attacks on evidence-based research, policy and law).
  • Workshops: These are 90-minute spaces for innovative, creative thinking to develop potential responses to address specific human rights problems. Workshop proposals should identify a specific human rights challenge that requires a multidisciplinary and collaborative approach. Workshop proposals should name a facilitator and can identify up to three discussion leaders from relevant areas of expertise; however, workshops are not panels. These are interactive sessions that engage participants in actively contributing to solutions.
  • Showcase presentations: These 15-minute presentations between sessions share lessons learned – be they positive or negative – from collaborations to advance human rights by a team that includes scientists, engineers, and/or health professionals (including students and early career individuals). These case studies can focus on a specific problem and the approach the team developed to address it, or on aspects of the collaboration itself (for example, building trust with each other and impacted communities, tools the team used for remote collaboration, etc.).

Proposals should be submitted in the following format:

  • Topic: In 1-2 pages, outline the topic of discussion, including any issue or problem the session intends to explore, proposals for action and explanations of how this topic meets the proposal criteria noted above. Please be sure to indicate the session type.
  • Speakers: Provide a separate list of brief bios for all speakers, moderators, and participants.
  • In an effort to lower the environmental footprint of this conference, AAAS is investigating options for remote participation through video conferencing and other options. For this reason, session proposers will be asked for information about whether remote participation is possible.

Please submit proposals online through the submission website by Thursday, May 7, 2020. Proposers will be notified of the committee’s decisions in June 2020.

Questions? Please contact the Coalition Secretariat at

To learn more about the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition, please visit

Event Contact

Theresa Harris

Project Director

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