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November 2008 (To print, click the print icon on your browser
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SPSSI Policy News RSS Feed - November 21, 2008

By Christopher Woodside

Event Recap/Resource

AAAS Science Serving Human Rights Event Highlights Joint Work of Scientists, Human Rights Practitioners

On October 23, in advance of the upcoming January 2009 launch of the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition (stay tuned for more coalition news in the future!), the working group on Service to the Human Rights Community held its first ever outreach event.  “Science Serving Human Rights: Making It Happen,” was a two hour forum showcasing the various ways in which science and scientists can contribute to human rights work.  In accordance with the working group’s objective of drawing attention to these methods, the event prominently featured scientists and human rights practitioners who have teamed up to tackle substantial and diverse human rights challenges.

Taking center stage at the forum were six scientists with backgrounds in science, medicine, and human rights, respectively.  The invited experts who spoke on their collaborative teamwork are listed below:

Epidemiologist, Chris Beyrer, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Human Rights Practitioner, Philip Fornaci, Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, DC Prisoners' Project  teamed on a project designed to secure health rights in Washington, DC.

Geographer, Lars Bromley, AAAS, Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Project Human Rights Practitioner, Ariela Blatter, Amnesty International USA, Center for Crisis Preparedness and Response teamed on a project to document violations in Darfur. 

Forensic Pathologist, Yvonne Milewski, Suffolk County Department of Health Services, New York and Human Rights Practitioner, Susannah Sirkin, Physicians for Human Rights, International Policy and Advocacy teamed on a project to investigate mass graves in Bosnia.

To learn more about the scientists and human rights practitioners that spoke at the forum, please click here

“On-call” Scientists Program Seeks to Continue Important Work Between Scientists, Human Rights Practitioners

A sidebar to the main event at the October 23 “Science Serving Human Rights: Making It Happen” AAAS event, was the introduction of a new volunteer project dubbed “On-call” Scientists.”  AAAS staff members explained that the program is intended to serve as a continuation of the joint research efforts highlighted during the forum by providing a mechanism for connecting scientists interested in lending their personal expertise, skills and knowledge to human rights organizations in need of such assistance.  In the future, additional Science and Human Rights Coalition events may similarly feature such joint work between scientists and human rights practitioners, and hence, provide opportunities for participants to showcase their research.

If you are a SPSSI member who would be interested in contributing your efforts to this project, please visit for more information.  Also please feel free to contact SPSSI Policy Coordinator Chris Woodside for additional details.  

You can sign up to receive the Science and Human Rights Program Newsletter directly.  The Newsletter is issued monthly by the AAAS Science and Human Rights Program, and includes news, program updates, resources, and information about upcoming events relevant to those immersed in the world of science and human rights.  Click on in order to sign up.  Submissions to the newsletter are also welcome and can be made via the AAAS online submission form at  

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Research that produces nothing but books will not suffice.
                                                                                                                    - Kurt Lewin