Friday, December 19, 2008

Holiday Hours

The Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions Library will be closed from December 24 to January 4 during IIT's winter break. We will resume normal hours on January 5th.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

National Research Council releases report on the NNI's EHS Strategic Plan

Yesterday, the U.S. National Science Council released its independent review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative's (NNI) strategic plan to address the potential human heath, safety, and environmental (EHS) risks associated with nanotechnology research and development. The committee responsible for the report concluded that the NNI's plan suffers from major weaknesses and does not provide either a vision, a coordinated set of research goals, or a plan of action for how these goals shall be achieved. The committee also found that the NNI had not adequately consided the views of the nanotech industry, consumer and environmental groups, or the regulatory actions of states, localities, and foreign countries. They urged the NNI to go beyond only opening up reports to public comment, and to find better ways of engaging stakeholders in the process.

In a statement released the same day, an informal coalition of environmental and business organizations, including the Environmental Defense Fund, the NanoBusiness Alliance, BASF Corporation, and Dupont, published a statement in support of the report's findings.

For more coverage of the report and reactions to its findings, please see the following articles in the New York Times and Science Magazine's "Science Insider" Blog.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Three new Studies on the Public Perception of Nanotechnology R&D

Three new studies on the public perception of nanotechnology research and development have just been made available via advanced online publication of the journal Nature Nanotechnology. The studies show that the factors influencing how members of the public view the perceived risks and benefits of nanotechnology goes far beyond an individual's familiarity or knowledge about the topic. These studies also look at some of the differences in the public perception of nanotechnology between the U.S., Europe, and the United Kingdom.

Links to abstracts below.

Cultural cognition of the risks and benefits of nanotechnology

Dan M. Kahan, Donald Braman, Paul Slovic, John Gastil, and Geoffrey Cohen

Deliberating the risks of nanotechnologies for energy and health applications in the United States and United Kingdom

Nick Pidgeon, Barbara Herr Harthorn, Karl Bryant, and Tee Rogers-Hayden

Religious beliefs and public attitudes toward nanotechnology in Europe and the United States

Dietram A. Scheufele, Elizabeth A. Corley, Tsung-jen Shih, Kajsa E. Dairymple, and Shirley S. Ho.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

New Resource for Nanotechnology R&D in Europe

For individuals interested in the international development and use of nanotechnology, the observatoryNANO web site will soon become an important source for reports on nanotechnology R&D in Europe.

Reports from the observatoryNANO project cover

- scientific and technological developments,
- economic and market information,
- ethical and societal issues,
- environment, health and safety issues,
- developments in regulations and standards
- governance, communication and engagement tools

The observatoryNano project’s main goal is to collect and analyze data regarding scientific and technological trends (including peer-reviewed publications, patents, roadmaps, published company data) and economic realities and expectations (including market analysis and economic performance, public and private funding strategies) related to the research and development of nanotechnology. The consortium of institutes involved in this project will also supplement this information with assessment of social and ethical issues, nanotechnology’s impact on health, environment and safety, as well as regulation, standardization, and legislative issues. This data will provide European decision-makers in government, industry and finance with objective information on which to base their future decisions regarding the future of nanotechnology R&D in Europe. This four-year project is funded through the EU’s FP7 research program, and has the final goal of establishing a permanent European Observatory on Nanotechnologies to provide ongoing independent support to decision-makers.

The web site already includes interim reports on ten technology sectors, and the first edition of its newsletter. The sections on societal issues, regulation and standards, and human health, safety, and the environment are still under construction.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Anthropologists to Vote on New Ethical Rules on Work With Military

According to an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education, members of the American Anthropological Association have been debating changing the Association’s code of ethics to address concerns about anthropologists who work with the U.S. military. The debate centers on the roles of social scientists in military and intelligence programs, and how their research could potentially be used to the detriment of the populations being studied. The resolution re-instates language from the 1971 version of the code, and calls for anthropologists to be honest and transparent with all stakeholders about the nature and intent of their research, and for open access to any subsequent reports or publications.

Part 6 of the of the proposed language states,

“ In relation with his own government and with host governments, the research anthropologists should be honest and candid. He should demand assurance that he will not be required to compromise his professional responsibilities and ethics as condition of their permission to pursue research. Specifically, no secret research, no secret reports, or debriefings of any kind should be agreed to or given. If these matters are clearly understood in advance, serious complications and misunderstandings can generally be avoided.” (To read the proposed guidelines and a full description of the debate, click here.)

The AAA’s full membership is set to vote on the proposed revisions of their code of ethics in early December of this year.

1998 Code of Ethics

Executive Board Proposal to Amend the Code of Ethics

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Help us improve IIT Libraries by taking our survey

We are inviting all students, faculty, and staff at IIT to take a survey of library service quality at IIT. By completing this survey, you will be providing us with essential feedback that shall help us measure how we are doing in meeting your research and information needs, and allow us to improve our service, collections and space in the years to come.

Your responses to the survey will be anonymous, as any identify links between responses and respondents will be removed and only the combined data will remain. It should take you about 10 minutes to complete the survey.

Everyone who completes the LibQual survey have the opportunity to be part of a drawing for a chance to win one of four $50 Barnes & Noble gift cards that can be used at the IIT Bookstore or in any Barnes & Nobel retail or online site. Instructions for entering the drawing are available at the end of the survey.

Please click here to access the survey, and thank you for letting us know how we are doing!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Check out our new design for the NanoEthicsBank!

Since the launch of the NanoEthicsBank (NEB) in May of 2007, CSEP Library has been collecting feedback from users of this resource to improve both the quality of the information contained in the database, and its ease of use. We have expanded the scope of the NEB to include materials looking at the legal status of nanotechnology research and development, including questions about intellectual property and patents, as well as the development of green nanotechnology, and discussions about the use of multi-walled carbon nanotubes in consumer products. We have also changed the user interface of the NEB to include a list of the popular search terms, as well as the ability to search by journal title in the advanced search mode. Please check out the new look of the NEB, and let us know what you think! You can also visit the new Nano Resources page, is continually updated with upcoming conferences focusing on the societal, legal, and ethical issues pertaining to nanotechnology research and development, as well as further databases, projects, and national and international research institutes focusing on nanotechnology. The NanoEthicsBank is a bibliographic database for scientists, scholars, students, and anyone else interested in the ethical and societal implications of nanotechnology. This database, supported by the National Science Foundation, is part of the NanoConnection to Society Project, which has also supported the development of the NanoBank, a digital library containing a collection of documents related to various topics in the nanotechnology field.