The Right to Science: A Forgotten and Underrated Gateway Right

Name of applicant

Helle Porsdam


University of Copenhagen


DKK 703,701



Type of grant

Monograph Fellowships


Public trust in science has suffered as a result of 'fake news' and the deliberate presentation of falsehood as fact, motivated by political influence and/or financial return. At the present (populist) moment in time, fact-based knowledge and evidence no longer exert the rational pull they once did. Approaching the devaluing of scientific authority as a Grand Challenge, "The Right to Science: A Forgotten and Underrated Gateway Right" will look at how the RtS was developed, what it is, and what issues need to be resolved to flesh out this right.


The existence of the RtS becomes ever more important for scientists and society because it adds a legal and moral dimension to a range of fundamental issues including scientific freedom, funding, and policy, as well as access to data, materials, and knowledge. Despite its potential for furthering science and human rights causes, the RtS has not received the attention it deserves, however. The historical neglect of this right has in part been due to the difficulty in interpreting its implications, both normative and practical. This project hopes to remedy this situation by engaging in discussion on the role of science and the potential of the RtS.


My scholarly approach will be that of cultural studies or law and humanities - that is, the cultural study of law, in this case human rights law. Most of the texts I will use are primary sources such as the reports written by the two Special Rapporteurs in the field of cultural rights, General Comments issued by the monitoring body of the ICESCR, and other authoritative texts. I will also use cultural texts - typically historical, literary or bibliographical texts - to illustrate and introduce the most important issues. I will approach these texts, not so much as aesthetic objects in their own right, but rather as case studies and/or sources used as a means to an end: cultural or societal analysis.

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