Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Winter Break Hours

The Center will be open from 9-5, Monday-Friday until December 23. We will be closed from December 24-January 2, and will resume normal hours from January 3 until the end of the break.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Hours

The Ethics Center will be closed Thursday, November 24th and Friday, November 25th for the Thanksgiving Holiday. We will resume normal hours on Monday, November 28th. 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving break and safe travels!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Congratulations to IIT's Ethics Bowl Team!

On Saturday, November 12, IIT’s Ethics Bowl Team competed in the Central States Regional Ethics Bowl at Marion University in Indianapolis. The team competed against 22 teams from 19 schools around the Midwest, answering questions from a panel of judges about a collection of cases the students have been discussing since the beginning of the semester. The IIT team members are: Raghuveer Cumar (senior, business), Kari Finseth (junior, architecture), Kim Nealy (senior, technical communications), Ben Silver (senior, computer science), and Tom Waller (junior, biomedical engineering). The coach is Krisanna Scheiter, Sawyier Predoctoral Fellow in Philosophy, and assistant coach Kelly Laas, Librarian of the Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions.

The Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl is an academic competition with rules and procedures designed to model the best approaches to reasoning about practical and professional ethics. Created and developed by IIT Philosophy Professor Robert Ladenson, the IEB has spread to include well over 120 teams from all over the Unites States and Canada. 

Congratulations to IIT’s Ethics Bowl Team for all of their dedication and teamwork this semester! The team has made tentative plans to informally meet a few times next semester to discuss the cases for the National Ethics Bowl when they come out in January of next year. If you are interested in attending any of these meetings, or potentially being part of the Ethics Bowl team next year, please send an email to laas@ iit.edu.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ethics News: Dutch Psychologist Manipulated Data in Dozens of Papers

A recent Science News article reports on the findings of a committee at Tilburg University in the Netherlands that found psychologist Diedrik Stapel had forged data used in a large number of papers, including an article published this past April in Science Magazine. The accusation of scientific misconduct came from three junior researchers working at Tilburg University who suspected misconduct in his work.

Stapel's work encompassed a broad range of attention-catching topics, such has how a position of power influences moral thinking, and is likely to cause damage to to his co-authors and the field. The report from the committee recommends that the university look into pressing criminal charges based on the misuse of research funds and possible harm resulting from the fraud. 

What kinds of organizational pressures do you think lead to scientific misconduct?

What do you think that universities and professional associations can do to help reduce the instances of scientific misconduct, other than just focusing on detection and punishment?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Center Director Dr. Weil Wins Award from World Technology Network

The World Technology Network (WTN) announced last month that Vivian Weil has been named a finalist for a prestigious World Technology Award for Ethics, presented by the WTN in association with TIMEFortune, CNN, Science/AAAS, and Technology Review. Weil joins a roster of organizations and individuals from over 60 countries around the world deemed to be doing the most innovative and significant work.

The World Technology Awards have been presented by the WTN since 2000 as a way to honor those in 20 different categories of science and technology and related fields doing "the innovative work of the greatest likely long-term significance." Nominees for the 2011 World Technology Awards were selected through an intense process by the WTN fellows (winners and finalists from previous annual award cycles in the individual Award categories) through an intensive, global process lasting many months. Winners will be selected from among the finalists with input from a select group of prominent advisors.

The Advisors for 2011 include Ray Kurzweil, inventor/futurist/author; Albert Teich, director of Science and Policy Programs at the American Association for the Advancement of Science/AAAS (retired, 2011); Jason Pontin, editor/publisher of Technology Review; and Lev Grossman, senior writer and book critic for TIME and co-author TIME's "Techland" blog.

The winners of the World Technology Awards will be announced during a ceremony at the United Nations on the evening of October 26 at the close of the World Technology Summit, a two-day "thought leadership" conference held at the TIME & LIFE Building and presented by the World Technology Network.

About the World Technology Network (www.wtn.net) The WTN exists to "encourage serendipity" -- the happy accidents of colliding ideas and new relationships that cause the biggest breakthroughs for individuals and institutions. The WTN works to accomplish its mission through global and regional events for its members and extended audience, to help make connections among them, and to examine the likely implications and possible applications of emerging technologies.

The WTN is a curated membership community focused on exploring what is imminent, possible, and important in and around emerging technologies. The WTN exists to "encourage serendipity" -- the happy accidents of colliding ideas and new relationships that cause the biggest breakthroughs for individuals and institutions. The WTN works to accomplish its mission through global and regional events for its members and extended audience, to help make connections among them, and to examine the likely implications and possible applications of emerging technologies.

Text from IIT Today 10/13/2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sites We Like: EthicsCORE

As a contributor to the EthicsCORE site, I have to admit to a bit of bias, but I always find something new when I take time to browse the latest additions to the web site. Funded through an NSF grant, its mission is to "bring together information on best practices in research, ethics instruction and responding to ethical problems that arise in research and professional life."  The project is coming out of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign's new National Center for Professional and Research Ethics, and is inviting other ethics centers and scholars in the field of professional ethics to contribute to the project. 

The site, which is still under development, includes the ability to do multiple kinds of literature searches in the field of professional ethics, browse through its collection of teaching materials, and allows you to get full-text access to just about any article you can find, including full access to the Encyclopedia of Science, Technology and Ethics.  There are numerous other features that are still in the works, including an online journal, so be sure to bookmark this site and check back regularly.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sites We Like: Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

For the next few weeks I am going to use this blog to highlight some interesting ethics web sites that I visit on a regular basis. These are sites that I often turn to when looking to keep up with the latest news in the areas of environmental or business ethics, find out what other ethics centers are up to, or find a new case study to discuss in a class or workshop.

One the best web sites I have found when looking for new and well-written case studies is the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. Their library of case studies covers all areas of academic ethics, business ethics, social ethics, technology ethics etc. and are always thought provoking. The Markkula Center also hosts a student discussion forum called The Big Q on Facebook where students can discuss ethical questions related to life on campus.

Be sure to check this blog in the next few weeks as we highlight more sites we like!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ethics News: Scientists Against Sloppiness

BioCision, a biotech company that develops temperature-controlling products such as special alloy eppendorf tube racks that protect biological samples during rapid and repeated freezing, is launching a tongue-in-cheek campaign with the serious aim of standardizing laboratory practices to ensure the quality of cell and tissue samples. The campaign seeks to get scientists to pay more attention to how biological samples are treated in the lab, as shifts in temperature can have huge effects on the quality of many cell and tissue samples.

The campaign and its web site (which is rather fun to read through) calls needed attention to the "little murders" of everyday science, or the small oversights and misdemeanors that we all are subject to in the lab, such as leaving a sample in a test tube rack on the counter for too long or not being consistent in how we handle each of samples in an experiment. In some cases, these small mistakes can lead to problems down the line in the quality of data. So while samples probably aren't feeling too abused by these practices, the integrity of the final results might be being compromised.

See "Zigmond, Michael and Beth A. Fisher. "The Little Murders of Everyday Science: Commentary on 'Six Domains of Research Ethics.'" Science and Engineering Ethics Volume 8, Number 2, 229-234, DOI: 10.1007/s11948-002-0024-3

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ethics News: Synthetic Biology

The highlight of the September 2nd edition of Science Magazine is a collection of articles on synthetic biology, an emerging field that, "brings together biologists, physicists, chemists, and engineers who seek to bother understand life and to build new biological functions."(1) Sounds a bit like nanotechnology in its cross-disciplinary draw. But what kinds of ethics questions does this new field raise? The issue includes an interesting article on regulating industrial uses of new biotechnologies, but here are a few organizations are taking a closer look at these issues...

The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues released a report in December 2010 entitled, New Directions: The Ethics of Synthetic Biology and Emerging Technologies.
The National Academy for Engineering held a workshop on synthetic biology and engineering ethics in September of 2010. You can read the notes from the workshop here.

The National Academy of Engineering sponsored a workshop in September of 2010 looking at synthetic biology and engineering ethics. You can read the notes from this workshop here.

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars started the Synthetic Biology Project in 2010 to promote public and policy discourse on synthetic biology and its societal implications.

(1)Vinson, Valda and Elizabeth Pennisi. 'The Allure of Synthetic Biology." Science 333(6047) pp.1235.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ethics News: Social Media, Flash Mobs, Riots & Privacy : Where is the Balance?

In the aftermath of the riots that occurred in many major British cities earlier this month, new questions have been raised about if police should have the ability to monitor and event restrict the use of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook during times of civil unrest or when these sites are being used to plan crimes and outmaneuver police. In an NPR piece this morning, Bill Branton, the former Chief of Police in New York and later Los Angeles who is also acting as an adviser to the British Government on how to combat organized gang violence, spoke about how the use of social media by criminals is changing the tactics of how police try and prevent crimes as well as the issues of privacy and surveillance raised by these new tactics.

Meanwhile, the New York Times just ran a story last Thursday that British officials and representatives of Twitter, Facebook and Blackberry met to discuss voluntary ways to limit or restrict the use of these networks for criminal behavior.

What do you think? Social media has played a large role both in the revolutions of Libya and Egypt, as well as in the British riots of this month. Should law enforcement have the ability to monitor social media sites, and if so, what kinds of limitations should be put in place to help protect users' privacy?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Welcome Back!

Welcome back to IIT for the Fall Semester!

CSEP is in the midst of finishing off some of its summer programs, including a redesign of our web site which will be launched in September, the addition of hundreds of new case studies to the Ethics Education Library, and continuing to work with the Boeing Scholars Academy as the school year begins for Chicago-area high schools. We look forward to an interesting and event-filled semester!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ethics News: Changes to Rules Governing Human Participants in Research

The New York Times reported on July 24th that the U.S. Government is proposing major changes in the rules covering research involving human participants. The proposed changes would include expanding the Common Rule's coverage to all studies conducted at institutions that receive money from any of the 15 federal agencies that have adopted the Common Rule, even if the study is being funded by a another, non-governmental organization, such as a drug company. Other changes would allow a single institutional review board to oversee studies taking place a multiple sites, and aim and making it less cumbersome to do surveys or other social science research in which risks to participants are usually less than for medical studies.

The goal of these changes is to strengthen some protections in regards the changing research climate, such as the growing use of DNA data in research, while also reducing red tape that can impede the success of some studies.

Ethics News: Harvard Facebook Study Shows Privacy Issues Related to Internet Research

An article from the Chronicle of Higher Education published on July 10th describes a recent study completed by Harvard sociologists that studied how race and cultural tastes affect relationships. They based their study on 1,700 Facebook profiles from a group of students at an anonymous university. Problems emerged in 2008 when Michael Zimmer of the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee showed that even with the protections the Harvard researcher utilized to protect the data, the data could be identified from coming from the Harvard class of 2009. Researchers taking part in the study used Harvard students as research assistants to download the data, thereby allowing them to access profiles of students that might have set their profiles to be visible only to Harvard's Facebook network. This raises the question of if the students included in the data set truly intended to have their profile data publicly visible and accessible for downloading.

The article shows how many questions are raised by the use of data on social networking sites for research purposes, and the changing relationship between researchers and their subjects in these kinds of contexts.

Monday, June 20, 2011

CSEP and the Boeing Scholars Academy

CSEP is working with the Boeing Scholars Academy at IIT this summer to organize an ethics bowl for the 100 students participating in this 4-week program. The Boeing Scholars Academy is a free-year round enrichment program that introduces high-achieving Chicago area high school students to the fields of engineering, science, technology, and mathematics. This summer, the students will participate in forums, labs, projects, workshops and field excursions all related to the theme "cities of the future." The cases debated during the ethics bowl, which will be held on July 12th, will center around this topic, and the students will be helping us identify the types of issues that these cases should center on.

For up to date information on the Boeing Scholars Academy be sure to check out their Facebook Page!

Monday, May 23, 2011

New Paper available by CSEP Fellow Robert Ladenson

CSEP has recently made available two new publications by CSEP Fellow, Dr. Robert Ladenson under a Creative Commons license.

Critical Attributes of Good Process Decisions: A Guide for the Reflective Special Education Hearing Officer
Robert Ladenson

This monograph offers guidance for special education due process hearing officers in their efforts to write good due process decisions. It has four sections dealing respectively with:

- summary and explanation of factual findings;
- justification of legal conclusions;
- framing and determination of rulings and orders;
- writing choices in a special education due process opinion as to word selection, organizational structure, style, rhetoric, and tone.

The monograph is not intended to replace, but instead to supplement, the use of comprehensive summaries of substantive and procedural special education law. It aims to address an essential, yet presently unmet need – for an educational approach that helps special education due process hearing officers to focus critical reflection upon processes involved both in thinking through issues in a case and finding words to express the conclusions arrived at in writing a decision.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Summer Hours

The Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions will be open Monday-Friday, 9-5 through the summer sessions at IIT. Due to the variety of summer programs we are involved in during this period, it is best to make an appointment if you would like to speak with the librarian or someone else at the Center by contacting us at csep@iit.edu or at 312.567.6913.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Are Dolphins too Intelligent for Captivity?

A new article in the latest edition of Science Magazine , as well as an accompanying podcast discuss a new movement that seeks to end all dolphin research in zoos and aquariums. Research has shown that dolphins can recognize their own reflections- a self-awareness test that only chimpanzees and human routinely pass. These findings, however, raise an unsettling question, if dolphins are potentially as self-aware as humans, how can we keep then in captivity? Do they deserve to have some basic rights protected by law?

On the flip side, captive research of dolphins is both the best way to learn about the intelligence of these creatures, as well as learning about how to protect them in the wild. Its these same captive studies that have lead to our greater understanding of dolphin intelligence, physiology, and our ability to quickly rescue stranded dolphins. Researchers worry that if we end captivity for dolphins, the field of dolphin cognation will also end.

Lori Marino, a researcher who has worked extensively with dolphins, has banded together with scientists, activists, and philosophers to draft the "Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans"

What are your thoughts? Are dolphins deserving of greater protections when a part of research then say, dogs or other large mammals? If so, what kinds of regulation would you support?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Nuclear Power and Public Safety

We at the Ethics Center have been watching with the rest of world as events have unfolded at the Fukunshima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Japan, and looking at what lessons can be learned for how we can best manage the dangers associated with nuclear power in the future.

In the interim, here are some links to news articles and other commentary on events in Japan, as well as questions and concerns being raised about public safety and nuclear power in the U.S. and elsewhere.

For a summary of events and coverage from the New York Times, see Nuclear Energy - Crisis in Japan

Latest coverage from the BBC of latest concerns that radioactive water may be leaking from the Fukunshima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, as well as links to related coverage of story.

Understanding Japans Nuclear Crisis - a quick, easy to understand run-down on what is happening from Wired Magazine, last updated on March 18th.

The Scientist is publishing a series of articles called "The Fallout at Fukushima" covering how the released radiation may impact Japan in the weeks, months and years to come.

The Washington Post has also published an interesting article talking about daily work in a U.S. nuclear power plant by the Chesapeake Bay, and their constant attention to safety.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Spring Break Hours

The Ethics Center Library will be open regular hours, 9-5 on Monday-Friday, during IIT's spring break which runs from March 14-18th.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Limited Access to Center Library

The faculty and staff of CSEP will be away at the annual meeting of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics from March 3-6th. For access to the library, please ask for assistance from CSEP student assistants in rooms 204 or 206. For help with reference questions, please email the Center Librarian at laas@iit.edu, and she will get back to you as soon as possible.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Long Island High School Ethics Bowl Competition

The New York Times recently reported on the second Long Island High School Ethics Bowl Competition held on February 12th in which teams from eight area high schools discussed cases looking at wide range of ethical issues ranging bioethics to business ethics.

The Ethics Bowl combines the excitement and fun of a competitive tournament with a valuable educational experience for students. Developed by CSEP Fellow Robert Ladenson in 1993 as a small intercollegiate event at IIT, the Ethics Bowl has grown exponentially over the past 18 years. Along with the APPE Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl in which over 100 colleges and universities compete, many other smaller competitions have begun, including a number of High School Ethics Bowls supported by the Squire Foundation, the Society for American Anthropology Ethics Bowl, and Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges Ethics Bowl.

CSEP is looking to put together a team to compete in the APPE Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl for Fall 2011. Please let us know if you might be interested by emailing us at csep@iit.edu.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

In the Lab : A New Interactive Resource for RCR

The Office for Research Integrity has just announced the availability of the new, interactive online video, The Lab, that allows users to assume the role of a graduate student, post-doc, research administrator, or PI and make decisions that affect the integrity of research. The video shows different viewpoints of people in the case in a way that allows a user to make choices on what the characters should do. After watching the video, a user can also explore a series of tutorials that look at issues of ethical decision making and introduces how the characters in the film could had made different decisions and possibly alter the outcome of the situation.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Business Ethics Case Writing Competition

2011 Intercollegiate Business Ethics Case Competition: Qualifying Information

The 2011 Intercollegiate Business Ethics Case Competition (IBECC) will be held on September 21-22 at the Ethics & Compliance Officer Association's 2011 Annual Ethics & Compliance Conference in Bellevue, Washington (east of Seattle). IBECC is now jointly supported by Loyola Marymount University, the University of St. Thomas (MN) and the ECOA.

Current plans for selecting a field of 25 teams are as follows.

  • Five international teams will be invited directly by the Executive Committee.
  • Fifteen teams will be selected via three qualifying competitions this spring that we're in the process of trying to arrange for in different parts of the country.
  • Four "wild card" invitations. The Executive Committee is willing to accept applications from teams for whom the cost of travel to a qualifying competition is prohibitive.
  • As the winner of the 2010 IBECC in Anaheim, the University of St. Thomas automatically qualifies.

We hope to have three qualifying competitions in different parts of the country during the spring of 2011. There will definitely be one at LMU in Los Angeles, April 29-30. We are in discussion regarding additional competitions with the Warrington College of Business Administration at the University of Florida in Gainesville and with the Winston Center for Leadership and Ethics at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College. Assuming that all three eventuate, the top four teams from each qualifying competition will be invited to Bellevue. Also, in appreciation for the work involved, a team from the hosting institution will receive an invitation.

At present, there are no travel funds available to help with the cost of travel to the qualifying competitions. We hope to have a small amount to assist with travel to Bellevue. In recognition of the fact that some schools may find the cost of travel to a qualifying contest prohibitive, the Executive Committee will accept applications for four "wild card" slots. Interested teams will be asked to submit a video (including Q&A by judges) of their presentation.

Our goal is to have the field for IBECC set by June 1.

Schools that are considering participating should contact Thomas White as soon as possible (twhite@ethicsandbusiness.org, 310-338-4523). Inquiries may also be sent to Kirsten Nordblom (kirsten.nordblom@lmu.edu, 310-338-2321).

Information about the competitions will be posted at http://ethicsandbusiness.lmu.edu as it becomes available.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Interdisciplinary Course To Be Offered in Fall 2011

Chemistry 597, offered in the autumn semester of 2010, is not what it appeared to be: just a chemistry research course. It is in fact a highly innovative, NSF-funded joint research course for PhD students in engineering, science, and science studies, that is, philosophy, history, and sociology of science. Building on this first offering, Chemistry 597 will be offered again in 2011-2012 and e in 2012-2013. Subtitled “Addressing Ethical Issues in the Natural Course of Research,” Chemistry 597 has other innovative features. The science studies students come from other local universities. The format consists of six seminars covering a series of topics, followed by a six week period of joint research across disciplinary boundaries. In the last week of the research period and the final three weeks of the semester, small student research groups present their research reports for critiquing by the instructors and the other students. Each student group includes at least one science or engineering student and one science studies student. The sustained critiquing is to help the students produce publishable papers.

The course is aimed to prepare students for multidisciplinary research, providing science studies students acquaintance with concrete details of scientific research and giving science and engineering students opportunities to grapple with issues, such as the range of values within science. The goal is to help students acquire a view of science, engineering, and science studies that makes the social and normative aspects of each an essential and valuable part of their understanding of their own respective disciplines and opportunities. The format of the first six seminars features lead-off presentations on the week’s readings followed by challenging discussion. After the first seminar led by the faculty, small cross-disciplinary groups of students take responsibility for the presentations and lead follow-up discussion. The readings are drawn from the writings of science studies scholars, scientists, and engineers, and the topics range from Diversity and Cooperation to Models and Causality. The faculty consists of Vivian Weil (PI), Sandra Bishnoi, and Eric Brey of IIT, philosopher of science Jordi Cat (CoPI) of Indiana University, and electrical engineer Alan Feinerman of UIC.

A final unusual feature of Chemistry 597 is an assessment of the concept, design, and implementation by an independent panel with expertise in science, engineering, and philosophy of science. Their assessment will inform the planning for the next offering. Additional details and information about applying for Chemistry 597can be obtained from Vivian Weil (weil@iit.edu) at the Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Trial By Twitter - Social media adds a new element to the peer review process.

We know that social media is finding its way into almost every part of our daily existence. A new article from Nature confirms this, discussing how researchers are increasingly taking to the web to critique newly published articles, sometimes mere hours after they are published. While this kind of public criticism has its good points, such as helping weed out sloppy work faster, it also raises a number of questions. How are authors suppose to respond to critiques come from all directions, or should the even respond at all to tweets and blog posts about their paper? Is this the proper forum for these kinds of discussions?

What are your thoughts on this? Does this kind of rapid response to published articles help or harm the peer review system? Is social media being embraced more quickly by some disciplines rather than others?

Mandavilli, Apoorva. "Trial by Twitter". Nature 469: 286-287.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Suspended Sentence for Organ Transplant

Just today, the Scott sisters, who had been imprisoned for 16 years after being convicted of armed robbery, were released by Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour on the condition that 35 year old Gladys follow through on her offer to donate a kidney to 38 year old Jamie. Jamie Scott requires dialysis treatment at least three times a week ,and her health has been failing in the past few months. Governor Barbour said her acted in part out of concern over Jamie Scott's health, but also to relieve the state of the cost of her dialysis treatment, approximately $200,000 a year. The sisters were originally arrested on Christmas Eve 1993, and were convicted on charges that they led two men into an ambush, during which the men were robbed of about $11, according to the trial transcript. The NAACP has been a major player on behalf of the sisters' release, especially because of the nature of the sentence received for the crime they were charged with. However, some medical ethicists are concerned about the Governor's stipulation of making organ donation a condition of the Scott sisters' release, even though Gladys Scott has volunteered to do so.

Washington Post Article "Conditioned on kidney donation, sisters' prison release prompts ethics debate." December 30, 2010 by Krissah Thompson.

New York Times Article "Jailed Sisters Released for Organ Transplant." January 7, 2010 by Timothy Williams.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

An Ethics Code of Academic Economists

A December 30th article from the New York Times reports that leaders of the American Economic Association, the world's largest professional society for economists, are considering adopting a code of ethics. This code, among other things, would seek to address questions about if economists should disclose who finances their research, if they should reveal which corporate clients they advise and consult, and if they should even be allowed to serve as corporate directors and officers, as many business and finance professors already do.

According to the article, the proposal to consider adopting a code of ethics was at least partly a response to the new documentary film "Inside Job" that criticizes leading academic economists for their ties to Wall Street as consultants, advisors or corporate directors.