Science and Human Rights Coalition Highlights Responsibility of Science to Society

November 6, 2020

Converted into a virtual format, the 2020 Science, Technology and Human Rights Conference took place from Oct 22-23. This is hosted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Human Rights Coalition, of which FABBS is an affiliate. This conference brought together human rights leaders, academic researchers, scientists and engineers who work in private industry, government officials, members of impacted and vulnerable communities, and students in science, engineering, human rights, health and law.

To set the tone, Sudip Parikh, who is just finishing his first year as CEO of AAAS, kicked off the conference with both a welcome and a somber reminder that 2020 brought us tragedy, but also opportunity. With COVID-19 affecting marginalized communities disproportionately and police violence against Black lives brought to the forefront of our national consciousness, he urged the scientific community to hold a mirror to itself and determine “who we are and what we are about”. Parikh pointed to some of AAAS’ initiatives in increasing diversity in its programs, noting that with the responsibility of providing valuable opportunities to scientists, that on the flip side, AAAS also serves as a gatekeeper.

FABBS’ member Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) members were featured in a workshop “Holding Up a Mirror to Sustainability: Eliminating Racism through the 2030 SDGs”, with speakers David Livert (Penn State University) and Corann Okorodudu (Rowan University (Emerita)), SPSSI Representatives at the United Nations (UN). The UN has 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) to transform the world for persons with disabilities by 2030. SPSSI released a statement expressing disappointment at the SDGs being “disturbingly silent about the eradication of systemic racism and racial and ethnic discrimination which constitute global barriers to human development and the fulfillment of human rights throughout the lifespan”. The goal of “leaving no one behind” will not succeed without considerations around racism,

Other sessions topics included climate change and justice, the morals and ethics in human trials regarding COVID-19, and housing policy, as well as a showcase featuring student e-posters.

On Thursday, November 19th, the Science and Human Rights Coalition will feature an initiative from the American Psychological Association in a webinar “Equity Flattens the Curve: The Importance of Diverse Populations in Combating COVID-19”.