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Committee on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility

The Committee on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility (CSFR) was established in 1976 by AAAS. The Committee Charter is as follows:

The Council recognizes that the CSFR, as a standing committee of the AAAS, plays a significant as well as potentially controversial role for the Association. The increasing complexity of the interactions among science, technology, and the public interest raise new issues and problems concerning the human rights, freedom of scientific inquiry, and professional responsibilities of scientists and engineers. The Association affirms at the outset that scientific freedom is grounded in basic human rights and implies special responsibilities to extend and disseminate knowledge for the good of humanity.

With these perspectives in mind, and within the resources allocated by the Board of Directors, the Committee on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility is charged with the following duties on behalf of the Association:

  • To formulate and recommend principles and procedures to guide the Association in a continuing review of issues that affect scientific freedom and scientific responsibility, and to search for means that will effectively bring these issues to the attention of both scientists and others.
  • To monitor whether the actions and policies of the government of the United States, the governments of other nations, and of private organizations circumscribe or restrict the freedom of scientists or their ability to carry out their responsibilities.
  • To collect information on restrictions of scientific freedom and of the ability of scientists to carry out their responsibilities, and to make such information available to scientists, scientific societies, and others who may be interested in taking action to counter these restrictions.
  • To encourage and assist the AAAS, its affiliates, and other scientific groups to develop statements of principles governing professional conduct, and to establish policies, procedures, and educational activities designed to encourage scientists to accept their professional responsibilities both with regard to safeguarding the integrity of science and with regard to the application of science in the promotion of human rights and general welfare.
  • To encourage and assist the AAAS and its affiliates to develop policies and procedures to protect scientists against infringements of scientific freedom; to collect information about the procedures of affiliated societies for dealing with documented allegations of such infringements; to facilitate communication among the societies with a view to strengthening of these procedures; and, in exceptional circumstances and within the criteria developed by the Committee, to conduct an analytic review of cases where the ramifications are deemed to be especially significant for the scientific community at large.
  • To report annually to the Association, through the Council–and, as appropriate, to other scientific and technological communities and to the general public–the activities of the Committee and its general assessment of significant developments during the year that affect scientific freedom and scientific responsibility and that call for examination, discussion and possible action.

As part of the attempt to fulfill its mandate, the CSFR in 1977 established a Science and Human Rights Subcommittee, specifically to address issues of human rights as they occur in relation to all these duties.

Adopted by the Committee for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility February 9, 1996.

Adopted by the AAAS Council on February 16, 1997.


Ronald Arkin
Georgia Institute of Technology

Angela Bielefeldt
University of Colorado, Boulder

Matthew Brown
University of Texas, Dallas

Deborah Johnson
University of Virginia

Kelly Joyce
Drexel University

Bartha Maria Knoppers
McGill University

Alexa Koenig
University of California, Berkeley School of Law

Steven Livingston
George Washington University

Camille Nebeker
University of California, San Diego

Safiya Noble
University of California, Los Angeles

Frank Pasquale
University of Maryland Carey School of Law

Neal Rubin (Chair)
Adler University

Judith Tanur
Stony Brook University

Joseph Watkins
University of Arizona

Committee Staff Officer
Theresa Harris