STEM Education and Human Rights

November 05, 2018

Sigma Xi is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Science and Human Rights Coalition, a network of organizations for scientists, engineers, and health professionals devoted to communication and partnership on human rights. In honor of Human Rights Day on December 10, let’s take a look at what the coalition discussed in 2018.

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education
In January, the coalition discussed whether broader integration of human rights topics into STEM teaching would improve learning outcomes, retention, and diversity while maintaining rigor in the teaching of core STEM content. Topics already taught in some STEM courses include voting and accessibility, accessibility and education, environmental justice, economic justice, and migrant choices. Known challenges of including human rights in curricula include accusations of politicizing education. Opportunities include gaining students’ attention by talking about issues that have a social purpose and are relevant to their communities; such conversations may attract and retain students who are underrepresented in STEM, including women. 

Higher Education and Human Rights
In July, the coalition addressed what colleges and universities currently do, can do, and should do to advance human rights. Speakers focused on issues faced by many institutions, such as addressing harassment on campus; protecting scientific and academic freedom on globally connected campuses; supporting scientists, engineers, and other scholars displaced by conflict; and providing equal and inclusive access to STEM education. Sigma Xi member Jeff Toney presented an invited lecture, “Protecting Human Rights Internationally.”

The coalition plans to highlight the human right to science for its 10th anniversary celebration next year.

At the July 2018 coalition meeting, Sigma Xi was represented by member Jeffrey Toney, who is provost and vice president for academic affairs at Kean University, and by a Sigma Xi past president, Tee Guidotti, who is a consultant in health, safety, environment, and sustainability.

More About Sigma Xi: Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society is the world’s largest multidisciplinary honor society for scientists and engineers. Its mission is to enhance the health of the research enterprise, foster integrity in science and engineering, and promote the public understanding of science for the purpose of improving the human condition. Sigma Xi chapters can be found at colleges and universities, government laboratories, and industry research centers around the world. More than 200 Nobel Prize winners have been members. The Society is based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. On Twitter: @SigmaXiSociety