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General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Experiments in Collaboration: Interdisciplinary Graduate Education in Science and Justice

This grant caught my eye at least partly because I am now reading a rather dense biography on Robert Oppenheimer.
Oppenheimer was the director of the  Manhattan Project, the program that developed the first nuclear weapon during World War II. However, he later became the chairman of the General Advisory Committee of the Atomic Energy Commission,which later opposed the development of the hydrogen bomb. And he went on to support international control of atomic energy.

The Manhattan project, and the larger government-scientific community failed to look at the long term consequences of developing atomic weapons.

So it is refreshing to see, hopefully not too late !, that our government is willing to see the long term consequences of science and technology through grants as this.

From the article at PLos One

Over the past two decades, policy changes at the national level have created an increased focus on science-society relations. An example in the United States has been a subtle but significant shift in the foundational principles of the National Science Foundation (NSF): rather than assume societal benefits directly flow from support of science and engineering, the NSF now explicitly seeks to create knowledge that benefits society [1][4]. To achieve this goal, the agency moved in 1997 to adopt the Broader Impacts Criterion (BIC) to review grant proposals [5],[6]. Similarly, the 2007 America COMPETES Act increased ethics education requirements for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows without specifying content[7][10]. While these policy changes require scientists and engineers to practice science and engineering in new ways that engage “the public” and benefit “society,” few institutions provide physical spaces for cross-disciplinary contact and intellectual space for figuring out how practically to achieve these ends [10][13].

SJTP is a graduate-level research and education program that trains science and engineering students alongside students of social science, arts, and humanities to respond to the ethical and social justice questions that arise in their research. Rather than treating justice as a concern to be tacked onto an already formed research project, SJTP graduate fellows are provided with fellowship funding and faculty mentorship that supports them to explore questions of ethics and justice as they arise in their research.

The space, funding, and institutional recognition of the program give fellows the opportunity to reorient their research questions, methodologies, and goals around questions of science and justice.


Some related bioethics resources

August 7, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment


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