Education Research and Human Rights

The American Educational Research Association recognizes the connections between human rights and the education enterprise, from the right of education researchers and other scholars to conduct their work without fear of harassment or intimidation to the human right to available, accessible, affordable scientific knowledge of quality and the benefits of scientific progress, with a particular focus on vulnerable populations, as affirmed in the Council approved Statement on Human Rights (2013).

AERA and AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition

AERA is a member of the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition, a network of scientific, engineering and health membership organizations that recognize the role of science and scientists in the promotion and protection of human rights. The Coalition is devoted to:

(1) bridge-building and coordinating: both within the scientific community – among scientific associations and across disciplines – and between the scientific and human rights communities

(2) education and capacity-building, within scientific associations and within the human rights community.

AERA’s membership of the Coalition creates multiple opportunities for leadership, engagement and participation in efforts at the intersections of science, technology and human rights.

  • Meetings: the Coalition meets in Washington, DC in January and July. These meetings provide an opportunity to learn about and engage in robust discussions about contemporary themes at the intersections of human rights, science and technology (e.g., climate change, water, big data), and to further the Coalition goals through project meetings, workshops, and leadership discussions. Meeting information, including video archives, is available here.

  • Projects: the Coalition is focused on getting work done, from building the capacity of human rights organizations to use scientific methods in their research, to developing teaching materials on human rights for STEM curricula, to bringing institutional change within member organizations. Current opportunities for involvement are presented on the Coalition website.

AERA Activities and the Coalition

Among the AERA’s activities as a member of the Coalition has been to endorse a statement by the AAAS Board of Directors urging the United States to Ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2014)


The representatives of the AERA to the Coalition are Judith Torney-Purta and Felice Levine, Executive Director of AERA. You are welcome to join the Coalition as an affiliated individual. To do so, please email the Coalition Secretariat.

AERA Human Rights Activities

AERA Human Rights Statement (2013)

Annual Brown Lecture in Educational Research

Statement on the Charleston Shootings and Racism in America (2015)

AERA amicus brief on Fisher vs. University of Texas (2016)

Annual Meeting session on human rights (2016)

Statement on Terror Attack in Orlando (2016)

Statement on the White House Executive Order on Visas and Immigration (2017)

Human Rights References

Halvorsen, K. (1990). Notes on the Realization of the Human Right to Education. Human Rights Quarterly, 12(3), p.341.

Nowak, M. (2001). The right to education. In: A. Eide, C. Krause and A. Rosas, ed., Economic, social and cultural rights, 2nd ed. Boston: Brill, pp.245-271.


Seltzer, R. (1996). Scientists can make a difference in defending colleagues’ human rights. Chemical & Engineering News, 74(22), p.36.

Tarrow, N. (2014). Human rights and education. 1st ed. Elmsford [New York]: Pergamon Press.

Willems, G. (2006). A Comparative Approach to Human Rights Education. Education and Society, 24(2), pp.87-97.