Ethics in Science and Engineering National Clearinghouse

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  • Publication
    Ethics in Science & Engineering: Redefining Tools & Resources
    (2010-01-01) Goncalves, Michelle S.; Fountain, Jane E.; Adamick, Jessica; Billings, Marilyn
    This report summarizes the main points of discussion of a national workshop convened to advance knowledge and practice for ethics in science and engineering. Following the enactment of the America COMPETES Act and its provisions to increase attention to ethics and the responsible conduct of research in science and engineering, the National Science Foundation (NSF) supported two beta site projects to advance understanding of the key dimensions required for a national online clearinghouse in ethics for science and engineering. The ESENCe Beta Site project, based at UMass Amherst and one of two such beta sites in the United States, thanks the participants of a national workshop held in October 2009 in Amherst, Massachusetts. Workshop participants were carefully selected and invited based on their expertise in library and information science, in ethics in science and engineering, and in related social sciences. More information about the workshop is available through the project website
  • Publication
    Mobile Technologies: Participation and Surveillance
    (2010-04-01) Shilton, Katie
    Mobile phones could become the largest surveillance system on the planet. These ubiquitous devices can sense and record data such as images, sound and location. They can automatically upload this data via wireless connections into systems for aggregation and analysis. But unlike traditional surveillance devices, phone sensors can be controlled by billions of individuals around the world. Are emerging mobile technologies platforms for citizen participation in research and discovery? Or new tools for mass surveillance? Location-based technologies and mobile phone applications like carbon footprint calculator Ecorio and Google’s Latitude are attracting attention and raising new questions for engineers, policy makers, and users. These systems collect and combine data in new ways, and their effects cross political boundaries. Who will build and control processes such as data storage, aggregation, sharing, and retention? What policies are required to control this data, and who sets them? And to what purposes will these systems be deployed? Humanists, social scientists, and technologists all have tools and perspectives to investigate these questions and contribute to a discussion of social issues in mobile sensing. This course brings together students from across campus to use some of those disciplinary tools and explore ethics and social challenges engendered by new technologies. Readings, discussion, design exercises and assignments will provide methods, tools, and contexts for unpacking the social issues embedded in emerging technologies. We will concentrate on the features of mobile technologies and how our worldview – specific cultural lenses, research practices, political orientations, economic pressures, popular narratives and fiction – influences how these features are imagined and built.
  • Publication
    Should Physics Students Take a Course in Ethics? Physicists Respond
    (1996-07-01) Wylo, Bonnie; Thomsen, Marshall
    Should physics students take a course in ethics? A National Science Foundation grant was written by the authors in an attempt (in part) to answer this question. One might first ask, why might physics students take a course in ethics? There are three reasons that might combine to persuade one of the necessity. First, the formal training can be quite practical and useful in the daily life of a physicist, as discussed below. Second, the National Science Teachers Association suggests an ethical component in the training of high school physics teachers (NSTA Standards for Science Teacher Preparation, available at Third, there is increasing pressure from the National Science Foundation (NSF document 96-102) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH Guide, V.21, No.43, Nov. 27, 1992). As of this writing, there are few ethics courses available purely for physics students. The authors know of only two -- the one taught by Marshall Thomsen at Eastern Michigan University, and one taught at Evergreen State College in Washington. Other courses are in development, as the idea/necessity is catching on, and many other more focused courses exist (e.g. on specific societal issues). One barrier to the development of such courses that has come to the authors' attention (and to the attention of others considering such a course) is the lack of a suitable textbook. The aforementioned grant was written, in part, to begin development of a textbook by holding an ethics workshop, the proceedings from which would become the basis of a text. In an attempt to gather information from the physics community to target and address relevant issues for such a course, a survey was sent to over 400 members of the American Physical Society's Forum on Physics and Society and other physicists who may have an interest in this area. The sample population was intentionally biased in this way to try to obtain a better response rate. The key questions asked were, What, if any, course should be taught? and What issues should be addressed? Two subgroups of the targeted population -- physicists in academia and physicists in industry and government labs -- were sent two different surveys. Results are discussed below. Unless otherwise noted, all respondents not affiliated with academia are combined under the generic heading of "industry".
  • Publication
    Science, Ethics, and Gender
    (1996-07-01) Auchincloss, Priscilla