Skip to main content

Higher Education and Human Rights Symposium

1200 New York Ave, NW, Washington, DC

Watch the Recordings Below


Universities and colleges are institutions with significant influence and power in their communities, nationally and worldwide, and thus play a vital role in ensuring respect for and promotion of human rights. Fifty years after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution,” in which he highlighted land grant colleges as a tool of systemic discrimination, we ask: What can colleges and universities do to advance human rights? What should they do? What must they do?

Speakers addressed issues many academic institutions are now tackling: protecting scientific and academic freedom on globally connected campuses; supporting the diaspora of scientists, engineers, and health professionals displaced by conflict; prioritizing community involvement in scientific research that addresses local human rights concerns; providing equal and inclusive access to STEM education and careers; ensuring that academic governance structures protect human rights on campus; and understanding, acknowledging, and addressing universities’ legacies of slavery and oppression. We examined these issues through the human rights principles of access, participation, informed consent, and justice.

Coalition business meetings were held on July 13.

Speakers Include

  • Shirley Malcom, Director, Education and Human Resources Programs, AAAS
  • Mustafa Bahran, Visiting Professor, Carleton University
  • Marcia Chatelain, Associate Professor of History and African American Studies, Georgetown University
  • Karen Horting, Executive Director and CEO, Society of Women Engineers
  • Jonathan Lazar, Professor of Computer and Information Sciences, Towson University
  • Bethany Letiecq, Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Science, George Mason University
  • Arelis Palacios, Associate Director for Undocumented Student Services, Georgetown University
  • Jeffrey H. Toney, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Kean University

Symposium Recordings


Welcoming Remarks

Protecting Human Rights Internationally

Promoting Human Rights in Our Community

Respecting Human Rights on Campus

Acknowledging and Address History


The AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition’s meetings convene scientists, engineers, and health professionals with human rights leaders and policy makers to discuss emerging issues at the nexus of science, technology, and human rights. The Coalition serves as a catalyst for the increased involvement of scientific, engineering, and health associations and their members in human rights-related activities. To learn more about how you can become involved in the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition, click here.

July 12-13, 2018
AAAS Headquarters
1200 New York Ave NW
Washington, DC 20005

Download the Agenda


Event Contact

Joel Ericsen

Program Associate

Related Focus Areas