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Science and Human Rights Coalition Meeting: July 16-17, 2012

This meeting of the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition focused on the ways human rights intersect with the technological applications of science and engineering. Innovative uses of science and technology are reducing the digital divide, enhancing human rights online, and advancing access to medicines, clean water, education and more. Some of these advances, however, present challenges of professional responsibility for scientists, engineers and health professionals. What are the emerging opportunities to use technology and engineering to address grave human rights concerns? How does the “right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications” help frame these issues? How can educators prepare students to use a human rights-based approach in their work? By exploring these questions, the aim of this meeting was to develop a better shared understanding of ways the scientific and engineering communities can tackle these issues in the future.

The meeting featured working group meetings, training workshops, and panel discussions on human rights issues central to the mission of the Coalition, including: “Advancing the Right to Development through Science and Technology,” “Building the Next Generation of Socially Responsible Innovators: Integrating Human Rights in Technology and Engineering Curricula,” and “The Human Right to Clean Water and Sanitation.” The Coalition meeting concluded with a panel on “Technology, Human Rights and Professional Responsibility.”

The AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition: The Next Frontier


Morning Plenary: Advancing the Right to Development through Science and Technology

Moderator: Sascha Meinrath, Director, Open Technology Institute [Listen to Discussion]


  • Stephen P. Marks, François-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of Health and Human Rights, Department of Health and Global Population, Harvard School of Public Health [Listen to Presentation] [View Presentation]
  • Iana Aranda, Senior Program Manager, Engineering for Global Development, American Society of Mechanical Engineers [Listen to Presentation]
  • Robert Freling, Director, Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) [Listen to Presentation]

Business Meeting: Technology for Human Rights: Volunteer Opportunities


Workshop: Engaging Your Society in Human Rights

Moderator: Margaret Vitullo, American Sociological Association


  • Sam McFarland, Individual Member
  • Douglas Richardson, Association of American Geographers
  • Constance Thompson, American Society of Civil Engineers

Workshop: Building the Next Generation of Socially Responsible Innovators: Integrating Human Rights in Technology and Engineering Curricula

Moderator: Mark V. Frezzo, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Mississippi and Co-chair of the Education and Information Resources Working Group


  • Thomas M. Powers, Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Delaware Biotechnology Institute Faculty Research Fellow, University of Delaware [Listen to Presentation] [View Presentation]
  • Joe Manous,Team Leader for Future Directions,Institute for Water Resources,U.S. Army Corps of Engineers [Listen to Presentation]

Workshop: The Human Right to Clean Water and Sanitation

Moderator: Benjamin Mason Meier, Assistant Professor of Global Health Policy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill [Listen to Presentation] [View Presentation]


  • Salman M.A. Salman, Former Lead Counsel, Legal Vice-Presidency of the World Bank [Listen to Presentation] [View Presentation]
  • Ralph P. Hall, Assistant Professor, School of Public and International Affairs, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University [Listen to Presentation]
  • Eric Tars, Director of Human Rights and Children’s Rights, National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty [Listen to Presentation]

Closing Panel: Technology, Human Rights and Professional Responsibility

Moderator: Sif Thorgeirsson, Business and Human Rights Resource Centre [Listen to Discussion]


  • Vijaya Tripathi, Program Manager, Benetech Human Rights Program
  • John Crowley, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative [Listen to Presentation]
  • Amy K. Lehr, Associate, Corporate Social Responsibility Practice, Foley Hoag LLP


AAAS would like to thank the sponsors of the July 2012 Coalition meeting for their generous support. Sponsors include:

  • American Chemical Society, Committee on International Activities
  • American Education Resource Association
  • American Physical Society
  • American Society of Civil Engineers
  • American Statistical Association
  • Association of American Geographers
  • Sociologists Without Borders