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Working Group Report: Education and Information Resources

The Education and Information Resources working group is devoted to producing a variety of accessible information materials for the promotion and support of collaboration between scientists, engineers and human rights practitioners.


Mark Frezzo, Sociologists Without Borders
Sam McFarland, Affiliated Individual

Progress Since Last Meeting

1. An EIR email list was created to facilitate communication among our members.

2. A conference call was held in August. During this call, decisions were taken to

  • create a single module for high schools on science and human rights, with Jennifer Bronson leading this project, and to review progress at the January 2013 meeting,
  • try to adopt a common format for our college-level modules on science and human rights
  • update the on-line information resources for the various sciences and human rights (e.g. relevant journal articles and books).

3. Six educational modules were completed for review by the EIR working group. These include:

  • A Very Brief Primer on Modern Human Rights (Sam McFarland)
  • Making Sense of Science as a Human Right (Sam McFarland)
  • How Psychologists Helped Improve the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual People (Sam McFarland)
  • Information Technology, Information Access and Human Rights: Regulating the Internet and Wikileaks (Kimberly Black-Parker)
  • Connecting Science and Human Rights: Darfur as a Case Study
  • Geography module: Science and Human Rights (Sheryl Beach)

Twelve additional persons (or pairs of persons) have expressed interest in writing discipline-specific modules, but none of these are yet ready for EIR review.

4. All Coalition members representing scientific and engineering associations were surveyed and asked the following questions (replies were received from six representatives):

  • What are the three main ways your discipline (discipline listed) could contribute to the realization of human rights?
  • Can you identify ways or particular cases in which your discipline was used in the past to significantly advance human rights, or other ways or cases in which your discipline was used to violate human rights?
  • Can you suggest a few scholars in your discipline who would be able and willing to write one or two brief but good educational modules [for college students] on your science and human rights?

However, several goals for 2012 in the EIR Plan of Action (2012-2014) were not fulfilled as scheduled, specifically:

  1. “By December 2012, place teaching modules on the SHRC website for use in undergraduate courses.” While the EIR working group has prepared six modules and is reviewing these prior to recommending them to the Coalition Steering Committee, none are on the website as of February 2013.
  2. “Augment the Bibliographic Database with more materials on science and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights . . . invite all SHRC members to review and suggest additions/deletions to the current bibliographic database.” This task is not yet accomplished.
  3. “By July 30 [2012], edit and share these lists (e.g., three main ways in which each science may contribute to the realization of human rights) with at least four Human Rights NGOs and request their feedback and suggestions.” The responses received, mentioned under #4, above, have not yet been edited or shared with human rights NGOs.
  4. “By July 30 [2012], request from at least four human rights NGOs examples of case studies of how science or technology has been used to advance their work.” This request has not yet been made.

In short, the EIR working group is considerably behind its proposed timeline for the Plan of Action (2012-2013). The co-chair can only attribute this tardiness to their own hectic fall semesters, and pledge make sincere efforts to try to catch up on this time line during the first half of 2013.

Goals for Next Six Months: Key Next Steps and Decisions Made

The main goals for the EIR Working Group must be to fulfill the unfulfilled goals for 2012 and move toward fulfilling our goals for 2013.

  1. By February 18, share this report with all members of the EIR Working Group, along with a tentative plan for fulfilling the 2012 goals by July 2013, specifically to:
    • elicit from Coalition members more responses to the three questions described above,
    • edit and share the results of these responses with four human rights NGOs,
    • request their feedback on these, and ask for ways in which they may have used science to advance their work
    • invite all SHRC members to suggest resources for augmenting the bibliographic database and revise the database.
  2. By March 1, re-contact the twelve persons or pairs who expressed interest in preparing modules to obtain anticipated timelines for completion of their modules.
  3. By March 15, complete the review of the six modules via the EIR mail list, with a view to passing them to the Coalition Steering Committee by April 1.
  4. Conduct a conference call with EIR working group members in late March to review our progress toward achieving these tardy goals.
  5. By the July 2013 meeting, have the current six modules website-ready or online, and at least three more ready for recommendation to the AAAS steering committee.
  6. By July 2013, complete and review the single module on science and human rights for high school students.