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Science and Human Rights Coalition Meeting: A Scientific Approach to Human Rights

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AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition Meeting
A Scientific Approach to Human Rights
April 4-5, 2016

The concept of applying scientific research methods and findings to human rights documentation is not new. However, much less attention has been given to ways in which scientific research can inform building and strengthening human rights movements. Examples include insights from evidence-based human rights investigations, use of new technologies to assess the effectiveness of human rights interventions, and new research on activist burnout.

After the opening plenary session, two workshops were held, one aimed at building capacity for engaging volunteers and the other in communicating about Coalition resources to your members, colleagues and peers. The meeting also included facilitated sessions for Coalition members to share their experiences and, working together, to strengthen and advance the Coalition’s goals.

Since the launch of the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition in January 2009, Coalition meetings have convened scientists, engineers, and health professionals with human rights leaders and policy makers to discuss emerging issues at the nexus of science 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. Watch an archived webcast of the July 2015 Coalition Meeting (Business and Human Rights) and the January 2015 Coalition Meeting (Big Data and Human Rights).

The Plenary Panel: Evidence-Based Human Rights Movements

Click here to read the AAAS News Story: "Evidence-Based Research Contributes to Human Rights Work" 

At the plenary panel, presenters discussed the application of scientific methods to human rights documentation, and synergies in their own research. Ann Marie Clark of Purdue University, Margaret Satterthwaite of the New York University School of Law, and Paul Gorski of George Mason University spoke on a panel moderated by Louisa C. Greve of the National Endowment for Democracy. 

Ann Marie Clark of Purdue University discussed a project using primary documents to study the human rights activists' uses of human rights law in Amnesty International's Urgent Action appeals. 



Ann Marie Clark, 2016

Margaret Satterthwaite discussed evidence-based human rights advocacy, data visualization and human rights, and evidence of mental health impacts on human rights workers. Find links to papers on these topics here:

• Satterthwaite & Simeone, "An Emerging Fact-Finding Discipline? A Conceptual Roadmap for Social Science Methods in Human Rights Advocacy"
Data Visualization & Human Rights
        • Pandey, Manivannan, Nov, Satterthwaite & Bertini, "The Persuasive Power of                Visualization"
        • Pandey, Rall, Satterthwaite, Nov & Bertini, "How Deceptive are Deceptive                      Visualizations?"
Amy Joscelyne, Sarah Knuckey, Margaret L. Satterthwaite, Richard A. Bryant, Meng Li, Meng Qian, Adam D. Brown, "Mental Health Functioning in the Human Rights Field"

From speaker Paul Gorski:
Although people in every professional or volunteer context can be susceptible to vocational burnout, research suggests that social justice and human rights activists, whose work is fraught with unique challenges, can be especially susceptible to it. In fact, social movement scholars have argued that activist burnout—when activists experience such persistent and debilitating stress from their activism that they must disengage at least temporarily—is among the biggest barriers to the sustainability of social movements. In my presentation I shared results from a series of qualitative studies about the unique nature of activist burnout. For example, we found that symptoms of activist burnout can be synthesized into three categories: those that come from activists’ passion and commitment, those that come from outside resistance, and those that come from conditions within movements. I urged attendees to consider concerns related to activist burnout as part of the bigger picture of human rights research."

Click here to view the presentation, or read the full article on "Burnout in Social Justice and Human Rights Activists: Symptoms, Causes and Implications" by Cher Weixia Chen and Paul C. Gorski. 

Paul Gorski, 2016


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