Science as a cultural human right
The important role played by science and technology and the potential for dual use makes it imperative to assess scientific research and its products not only on their scientific, but also on their human rights merits. As a cultural human right, the right to science provides a tool for opening up science to lines of inquiry emphasizing ethics and prioritizing human rights and human-centered considerations above commercial interests.
The right to science is a little-known but potentially very powerful human right. One of four core cultural human rights – the other three being the rights to education, to participate in cultural life, and authors’ rights – it is outlined in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from 1948 and repeated in Article 15 of the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Recognizing everyone’s “right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications,” the latter also requires State parties to develop and disseminate science, to respect the freedom of scientific research, and to recognize the benefits of international contacts and co-operation in the scientific field.
UNESCO has produced soft law within several distinct areas of cultural rights. With regard to the right to science, the 2017 UNESCO Recommendation on Science and Scientific Researchers and the 2020 General Comment No. 25 on Science by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights are especially relevant.
This course will take a multidisciplinary approach to the right to science and to cultural rights in general, exposing students to fields outside their respective core disciplines of study. Among the topics focused on are scientific freedom and dissemination, the importance of international scientific collaboration, and the relationship between intellectual property and authors’ rights. The idea is to look at science and its role in politics and society at a 'post-truth' or 'alternative facts' moment in time when science is often reduced to a matter of opinions, and when scientific funding no longer comes from public, but from private funding bodies.
Students should develop general skills in:
- Applying relevant theories, methods and tools (legal as well as non-legal) to current problems in the study of the right to science and cultural rights in general;
- Identifying, analyzing and understanding the potential of and the challenges that threaten the right to science;
- Negotiating between the universal and the relative, as well as between the individual and the collective;
- Contributing to the new and developing field of the right to science;
- Using law in an interdisciplinary and international context.
The course is relevant for all law students – but especially for students who are interested in working in the scientific context or sector (with museums and other cultural/natural heritage institutions, with publishing, and/or with the media).
A social programme compliments the formal programme and all students are strongly encouraged to participate in all elements. The course is scheduled from 28 June to 14 July.
Helle Porsdam, Science as a Cultural Human Right (Cambridge University Press, 2022), 200 pp. – available via REX.
In addition, we will read these soft-law instruments:
- Report of the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights on the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its products, 2012 (A/HRC/20/26) - https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G12/134/91/PDF/G1213491.pdf?OpenElement
- Report on the implications of patent policy for the human right to science and culture, 2015 (A/70/279) - https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N15/243/83/PDF/N1524383.pdf?OpenElement
- CESCR, General Comment No. 25 on Science, 2020 (E/C.12/GC/25) - https://docstore.ohchr.org/SelfServices/FilesHandler.ashx?enc=4slQ6QSmlBEDzFEovLCuW1a0Szab0oXTdImnsJZZVQdxONLLLJiul8wRmVtR5Kxx73i0Uz0k13FeZiqChAWHKFuBqp%2B4RaxfUzqSAfyZYAR%2Fq7sqC7AHRa48PPRRALHB
- UNESCO brief on the right to science and COVID-19 (2022) - https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000381186
Aprox. 100 pages.
Students who have obtained a bachelor degree within Law, Anthropology, Ethnology, History, Literature, and Political Science with an interest in cultural rights, especially the right to science, are encouraged to apply.
The courses ‘Science as a cultural human right' and 'Cultural rights: A promising global discourse?’ are mutually exclusive. It is therefore only possible to follow and be examined in one of these two courses.
- Students (Msc) enrolled at Faculty of Law, UCPH: Self Service at KUnet from 15 Nov. to 1 Dec. and 15 May to 1 June
- Students from IARU or other foreign universities: Electronic application no later than 1 April
- Credit transfer students from Danish universities: Electronic application no later than 1 June
- Professionals: Electronic application no later than 1 June
- 7,5 ECTS
- Type of assessment
- Type of assessment details
- Oral exam without preparation, 20 minutes
- Marking scale
- 7-point grading scale
- Censorship form
- External censorship
- Course number
- 7,5 ECTS
- Programme level
- Full Degree Master
Full Degree Master choice
Students enrolled at:
- UCPH: no tuition fee
- Universities in the EU/EAA: tuition fee of DKK 7,500
- Other non-EU/EAA citizens: tuition fee of DKK 9,375
See timetable for teaching hours
- 25 participants
- Faculty of Law
- Helle Porsdam (13-4e6b72726b34567578796a677346707b7834717b346a71)
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Courseinformation of students