Seventy years ago, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948. This seemed like an obvious necessity following World War II and its atrocities, but many people don’t know that this charter, under Article 27 guarantees that everyone has the right to “share in scientific advancement and its benefits.”
For that reason, in 2018 the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is marking the 70th anniversary of the Declaration by introducing “Science, a Human Right” as the theme for the annual World Science Day for Peace and Development—which held on November 10 every year, when UNESCO and science centers worldwide celebrate International Science Center and Science Museum Day (ISCSMD).
A lot has changed since 1948 about the place of science—and scientists—in society, about the role of scientific research, about the way science is used (or not) to make important decisions regarding the future of our planet. That is why recognizing science as a human right is extremely important for science centers and museums and the people and communities they serve.
Article 27 proclaims that “everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life in the community, to enjoy arts and to share in scientific advancement and benefits.” Science centers and museums of all sizes, all across the globe, support this by striving to become more relevant, meaningful places for their communities. For hundreds of millions of people around the world, these institutions open doors to the joy of experiential learning through exhibitions, family programs, activities for teachers and schoolchildren, and more and, increasingly, through opportunities for individuals to take action and help solve local and global challenges.
Each day—whether it is through engaging scientists, inclusion efforts, gender equality initiatives, or any other empowerment program that helps everyone connect with the wonders of science—these community organizations serve as places that contribute intentionally to the use of science for the creation of a better world. November 10 is the day to celebrate that on ISCSMD.