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Science & Human Rights Coalition: 2021 Student Essay Competition

Undergraduate and graduate students are invited to participate in the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition Essay Competition.

This essay competition was created to inspire students to explore connections between human rights and science, engineering and the health professions. Students may write on any topic at the intersection of science and/or technology with human rights.

NEW: The winners of the 2021 Competition will each receive a $1,500 cash prize! For more details, please read below.

Do you want to compete? Read the rules and regulations!

What you need to know

Submissions should be written in the form of an analytical or critical paper that shows deep, careful thinking, a consideration of different perspectives, and raises thought-provoking questions. For example, potential essay topics might include: the applications of a scientific approach or a new technology to address specific human rights concerns; an analysis of connections between human rights obligations and the social responsibilities of scientists, engineers and/or health professionals; or the ways in which full implementation of the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress may influence realization of other human rights. These examples are only provided to spark ideas: students are encouraged to write essays that reflect their own ideas, interests, and insights. 

Prizes will be awarded in the following categories: 1) Undergraduate student and 2) Graduate student. 

The two winning students will be recognized at the virtual October 2021 Science, Technology and Human Rights Conference presented by the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition. Winners of the competition will receive a year of membership in AAAS and a one-year subscription to Science. Because the 2021 conference is being held virtually, instead of the usual travel stipend to attend the conference, each recipient will receive a $1,500 cash prize, generously provided by the AAAS-Andrew M. Sessler Fund for Science, Education, and Human Rights. Students who receive prizes will be asked to support AAAS stewardship of the Sessler Fund by providing feedback about their experience in the competition. The winning essays will be considered for publication by the AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program. 

For more details about eligibility, judging criteria, and other requirements, please review the Rules and Regulations.

How to Enter

  1. Submit your essay through the essay competition website,, which will be open 1 May 2021 through 4 June 2021.
  2. The essay may be submitted in either Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF format.

Read the competition's rules and regulations here.

Event Contact

Theresa Harris

Program Director

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