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Research Ethics Exposed!

GEN ST 391
Fall Quarter 2012

Mondays, 10:30 - 11:20 am
Mary Gates 271
1 Credit, C/NC

Instructors
Laura Harkewicz, Biological Futures and Program on Values in Society
   e-mail: harkel1@uw.edu
Alison Wylie, Biological Futures and Departments of Philosophy and Anthropology
   e-mail: aw26@uw.edu

All lectures are open to the community!

Course Description
Research Ethics Exposed! offers undergraduate students in all areas of study an opportunity to learn about ethics issues that are an active concern for University of Washington faculty working in cutting edge fields of research in the social and natural sciences.

This course will begin with an introduction to framing concepts and issues by the course instructor, and each week through the quarter a faculty member from a different field will identify key ethics issues with which they wrestle in their own research. Here are some of the questions they will be addressing:

  • Is there research that scientists shouldn't do?
  • Are researchers responsible for the impact of their work, good and bad?
  • Do the ends justify the means, for example, where risks of harm to animal or human subjects are concerned? 
  • What counts as research integrity? How do researchers navigate the conflicting demands of funding agencies, industry, their own research communities?
  • What lessons should we take away from high profile examples of scientific fraud and misconduct?
  • Do researchers have a responsibility to communicate the results of their work, its risks as well as its benefits, to the public? What kinds of public outreach make a difference to the research and to those who have a stake in its outcomes?
  • Should researchers play an active role in setting policy that affects the funding and conduct of their work, and the use made of its results, or should they serve as hands-off consultants?

This course is sponsored by Biological Futures in a Globalized World , a cluster of initiatives hosted by the Simpson Center for the Humanities in partnership with the Center for Biological Futures at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The goal of the Biological Futures program is to foster better thinking about the global impact of dramatic increases in biological knowledge that now put us in a position to manipulate and build living systems on an unprecedented scale.

Learning Objectives
Students taking this course will learn first hand about a range of ethics issues that researchers confront in the social, life, and natural sciences. You should come away with an understanding of current norms of responsible conduct of research in these diverse fields, and you will be introduced to key concepts and tools of analysis drawn from philosophical ethics, historical and social studies of science, science policy that are resources for systematically addressing ethical issues raised by research. Finally, you will have an opportunity to reflect on the responsibilities that natural and social scientists, research subjects, and citizens jointly have for the wise direction and use of research.

Assignments
Each week we will pre-circulate a short reading and a set of questions provided by the week's presenter that relate to the topic of their lecture.  We strongly encourage you to do the reading in advance, attend all the lectures, and take notes on the readings and lectures that will help you address the pre-circulated questions. Each week, 1-2 questions from the pre-circulated list will be chosen as a source of discussion for the Go Post Message Board.  You will be expected to contribute to online discussion on the Go Post Message Board at least twice during the quarter. There will be a final quiz based on questions selected randomly from those circulated.