This summer, Center Biology and Society Master’s student Claudia Nunez-Eddy spent three months in Washington, DC, interning at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in the department for Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights, and Law. In that department, Claudia’s various projects addressed the ethical, legal, and human rights issues at the forefront of emerging science and technology.
Claudia began her internship working to develop ethical guidelines for the use of volunteered geographic information (VGI) and remotely sensed imagery in crisis situations. Geo-tagged data can be acquired from satellite imagery, mobile apps such as Facebook and Twitter, and text messaging, among others. Geographic data is often used in crisis settings, including natural disasters or war zones, because they can be used to create crisis maps that allow humanitarian responders to quickly and effectively work on the ground. However, geo-tagged data also poses many ethical questions regarding data protection and encryption, and a vulnerable population’s privacy and safety. In developing these guidelines, Claudia was tasked with preparing a set of case-studies to serve as concrete, real-life examples in which VGI data was used in crisis situations. These case studies were then presented and reviewed during the third of a series of invitational workshops aimed at developing a written report on ethical guidelines for VGI data in crisis situations.
Claudia also found her work defining the human right to enjoy the benefits of science particularly valuable, as it enabled her to gain practical experience in qualitative research methods. The 2017 AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition Meeting focused on the universal ‘Right to Science’ enumerated in Article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. Within Article 15, participating states are required to recognize the right of individuals to enjoy the benefits of science, as well as conserve, develop, and diffuse science. However, governments have largely ignored the ‘Right to Science’ in Article 15. As such, AAAS has begun work to further define that right and what it looks like in practice. Claudia worked on a research project that sought to understand the perspectives of scientists from around the world on the meaning of the ‘Right to Science.’ The survey received over 3,000 responses from scientists around the world to both open-ended and close-ended questions. Claudia was tasked with developing a coding framework to code the open-ended questions and apply those codes to all the responses. Claudia then analyzed the responses and assisted in writing the report. The final report will be presented to the UN committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights to assist UN members in writing a General Comment on the ‘Right to Science.’
This summer was an exciting and worthwhile experience, and illuminated the various ways in which science is intertwined with human rights. Claudia’s time in DC was spent attending lectures at AAAS from experts working at the intersection of science and society, visiting the many museum, and relaxing at various summer events in DC such as outdoor movies, rooftop restaurants, and jazz in the gardens.
More information: Claudia Nunez-Eddy (Claudia.Nunez-Eddy@asu.edu)