Advertisement

Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 653–668 | Cite as

Contentious Problems in Bioscience and Biotechnology: A Pilot Study of an Approach to Ethics Education

  • Roberta M. BerryEmail author
  • Jason Borenstein
  • Robert J. Butera
Original Paper

Abstract

This manuscript describes a pilot study in ethics education employing a problem-based learning approach to the study of novel, complex, ethically fraught, unavoidably public, and unavoidably divisive policy problems, called “fractious problems,” in bioscience and biotechnology. Diverse graduate and professional students from four US institutions and disciplines spanning science, engineering, humanities, social science, law, and medicine analyzed fractious problems employing “navigational skills” tailored to the distinctive features of these problems. The students presented their results to policymakers, stakeholders, experts, and members of the public. This approach may provide a model for educating future bioscientists and bioengineers so that they can meaningfully contribute to the social understanding and resolution of challenging policy problems generated by their work.

Keywords

Bioethics Ethics assessment Ethics education Fractious problems Navigational approach Navigational skills Problem-based learning 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Funded by NSF Award ID 0832912. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations are those of the co-authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF. We are grateful for the very helpful suggestions provided by anonymous reviewers.

Conflict of interest

All the authors are not aware of any financial or other conflicts of interest that would interfere with the objectivity of the views presented in this article.

References

  1. ABET, Inc. (2006). Engineering change: A study of the impact of EC2000, executive summary. http://www.abet.org/Linked%20Documents-UPDATE/White%20Papers/Engineering%20Change.pdf. Accessed 29 December 2010.
  2. Barry, B. E. (2009). Methods of incorporating understanding of professional and ethical responsibility in the engineering curriculum and results from the fundamentals of engineering examination, Doctoral Dissertation, Purdue University. http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/dissertations/AAI3418484/. Accessed 29 December 2010.
  3. Berry, R. M. (2007). The ethics of genetic engineering. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Berry, R. M. (2011a). A small bioethical world? HealthCare Ethics Committee Forum , 23(1), 1–14.Google Scholar
  5. Berry, R. M. (2011b) Problem-based learning regarding ‘fractious problems’ in health law: Reflections on an educational experiment. Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics, 39(4), 694–703.Google Scholar
  6. Borenstein, J., Drake, M. J., Kirkman, R., & Swann, J. L. (2010). The Engineering and Science Issues Test (ESIT): A discipline-specific approach to assessing moral judgment. Science and Engineering Ethics, 16(2), 387–407.Google Scholar
  7. Coughlin, S. S. (2006). Using cases with contrary facts to illustrate and facilitate ethical analysis. Science and Engineering Ethics, 14, 103–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Davis, M., & Feinerman, A. (2010). Assessing graduate student progress in engineering Ethics. Science and Engineering Ethics,. doi: 10.1007/s11948-010-9250-2.Google Scholar
  9. Decety, J., Michalska, K. J., Akitsuki, Y., & Lahey, B. B. (2009). Atypical empathic responses in adolescents with aggressive conduct disorder: A functional MRI investigation. Biological Psychiatry, 80, 203–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dochy, F., Segers, M., den Bossche, P. V., & Gijbels, D. (2003). Effects of problem-based learning: A meta-analysis. Learning and Instruction, 13(5), 533–568.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Donnelly, J. (2010). Aristotle would be proud: `Prudent vigilance’ for synthetic biology. blog.Bioethics.gov: The Blog of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. http://blog.bioethics.gov/2010/11/16/aristotle-would-be-proud-prudent-vigilance’-for-synthetic-biology/. Accessed 13 July 2011.
  12. Eisen, A., & Berry, R. M. (2002). The absent professor: Why we don’t teach research ethics and what to do about it. The American Journal of Bioethics, 2(4), 38–49.Google Scholar
  13. Herkert, J. R. (1999). ABET’s engineering criteria 2000 and engineering ethics: Where do we go from here? Online Ethics Center for Engineering National Academy of Engineering. http://www.onlineethics.org/Education/instructessays/herkert2.aspx. Accessed 15 June 2011.
  14. Hollander, R. D. (2005). Ethics education at NSF: Commentary on “standards for evaluating proposals to develop ethics curricula (V. Weil)”. Science and Engineering Ethics, 11(3), 509–511.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. ICSU Committee on Freedom and Responsibility. (2010). Advisory note on science communication. http://www.icsu.org/publications/cfrs-statements/science-communication/advisory-note-on-science-communication. Accessed 17 July 2011.
  16. Jonassen, D. H., & Cho, Y. H. (2011). Fostering argumentation while solving engineering ethics problems. Journal of Engineering Education, 100(4), 680–702.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Li, J., & Fu, S. (2010). A systematic approach to engineering ethics education. Science and Engineering Ethics,. doi: 10.1007/s11948-010-9249-8.Google Scholar
  18. National Institutes of Health (NIH). (2009). Update on the requirement for instruction in the responsible conduct of research, NOT-OD-10-019, November 24. http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-10-019.html. Accessed 15 June 2011.
  19. National Science Foundation (NSF). (2009). Responsible conduct of research. Federal Register, 74 (160), August 20. http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/E9-19930.htm. Accessed 29 December 2010.
  20. National Science Foundation (NSF). (2010a). Ethics education in science and engineering (EESE), last updated December 20. http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=13338&org=SES&from=home. Accessed 15 June 2011.
  21. National Science Foundation (NSF). (2010b). Press Release 10-214: NSF Leads Effort to Make Ethics Resources Available to Researchers, November 12, 2010; Available from: http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=118057 (Accessed December 29, 2010).
  22. Newstetter, W. C. (2005). Designing cognitive apprenticeships for biomedical engineering. Journal of Engineering Education, 94(2), 207–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Newstetter, W. C. (2006). Fostering integrative problem solving in biomedical engineering: The PBL approach. Annals of Biomedical Engineering, 34(2), 217–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Perrenet, J. C., Bouhuijs, P. A. J., & Smitts, J. G. M. M. (2000). The suitability of problem-based learning for engineering education: Theory and practice. Teaching in Higher Education, 5(3), 345–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. (2010). New directions: The ethics of synthetic biology and emerging technologies, Chapter 3 “Applications, Benefits, and Risks,” December, pp. 55-78. http://www.bioethics.gov/documents/synthetic-biology/PCSBI-Synthetic-Biology-Report-12.16.10.pdf. Accessed 1 April 2011.
  26. Sheppard, S. D., Macatangay, K., Colby, A, & Sullivan, W. M. (2008). Educating engineers designing for the future of the field: Summary, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/sites/default/files/publications/elibrary_pdf_769.pdf Accessed 29 December 2010.
  27. Shuman, L. J., Besterfield-Sacre, M., & McGourty, J. (2005). The ABET “professional skills”—can they be taught? can they be assessed? Journal of Engineering Education, Jan 2005: 41–55.Google Scholar
  28. Wahlund, K., & Kristiansson, M. (2009). Aggression, psychopathy and brain imaging—Review and future recommendations. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 32, 266–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roberta M. Berry
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jason Borenstein
    • 1
  • Robert J. Butera
    • 2
  1. 1.Georgia Institute of Technology, School of Public PolicyAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Georgia Institute of Technology, School of Electrical and Computer EngineeringAtlantaUSA

Personalised recommendations