Science Outside the Lab: Helping Graduate Students in Science and Engineering Understand the Complexities of Science Policy
Helping scientists and engineers challenge received assumptions about how science, engineering, and society relate is a critical cornerstone for macroethics education. Scientific and engineering research are frequently framed as first steps of a value-free linear model that inexorably leads to societal benefit. Social studies of science and assessments of scientific and engineering research speak to the need for a more critical approach to the noble intentions underlying these assumptions. “Science Outside the Lab” is a program designed to help early-career scientists and engineers understand the complexities of science and engineering policy. Assessment of the program entailed a pre-, post-, and 1 year follow up survey to gauge student perspectives on relationships between science and society, as well as a pre–post concept map exercise to elicit student conceptualizations of science policy. Students leave Science Outside the Lab with greater humility about the role of scientific expertise in science and engineering policy; greater skepticism toward linear notions of scientific advances benefiting society; a deeper, more nuanced understanding of the actors involved in shaping science policy; and a continued appreciation of the contributions of science and engineering to society. The study presents an efficacious program that helps scientists and engineers make inroads into macroethical debates, reframe the ways in which they think about values of science and engineering in society, and more thoughtfully engage with critical mediators of science and society relationships: policy makers and policy processes.
KeywordsScience policy Ethics education Macroethics Science and engineering education Science Policy Evaluation Assessment Experiential learning
We gratefully acknowledge the support of the university faculty, staff, guest speakers, and students who make Science Outside the Lab possible, in particular Andra Williams. We’d also like to thank the developers and faculty of the earliest Science Outside the Labs, Neal Woodbury, Dan Sarewitz, Joann Williams, Jim Allen, and Alex Smith. We thank Dr. Jessica Salerno for her insight as we refined our survey analysis. Our thanks also to the insightful comments of our three peer reviewers. Early versions of this research were presented at 2014 Gordon Research Conference, 2015 STGlobal Conference, and 2015 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. This research was undertaken with support from The Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University (CNS-ASU), funded by the National Science Foundation (cooperative Agreement #0531194 and #0937591).
Compliance with Ethical Standards
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
- ABET. (2016a). Criteria for accrediting applied science programs, 2016–2017. http://www.abet.org/accreditation/accreditation-criteria/criteria-for-accrediting-applied-science-programs-2016-2017/. Accessed April 12, 2016.
- ABET. (2016b). Criteria for accrediting engineering programs, 2016–2017. http://www.abet.org/accreditation/accreditation-criteria/criteria-for-accrediting-engineering-programs-2016-2017/. Accessed April 12, 2016.
- Berlin, I. (1953). The hedgehog and the fox: An essay on Tolstoy’s view of history (2013th ed.). Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Bernard, H. R. (2011). Research methods in anthropology: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. Lanham: Rowman Altamira.Google Scholar
- Brass, D. J., Butterfield, K. D., & Skaggs, B. C. (1998). Relationships and unethical behavior: A social network perspective. Academy of Management Review, 23(1), 14–31.Google Scholar
- Bush, V. (1945). Science, the endless frontier. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
- Carmines, E. G., & Zeller, R. A. (1979). Reliability and validity assessment. (Sage University Paper series on Quantitative Applications in the Social Sciences, series no. 07-017). Sage Publications: Beverly Hills, CA.Google Scholar
- DeCoster, J. (2005). Scale construction notes. http://www.stat-help.com/notes.html. Accessed July 6, 2015.
- Douglas, H. (2009). Science, policy, and the value-free ideal. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.Google Scholar
- Foley, R. W., Archambault, L. M., & Warren, A. E. (2015). Building sustainability literacy among preservice teachers: An initial evaluation of a sustainability course designed for K-8 educators. In S. Stratton, R. Hagevik, A. Feldman, & M. Bloom (Eds.), Educating science teachers for sustainability (pp. 49–67). Berlin: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Freeman, S., Eddy, S. L., McDonough, M., Smith, M. K., Okoroafor, N., Jordt, H., Wenderoth, M. P. (2014). Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(23), 8410–8415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Guston, D. H. (2000). Retiring the social contract for science. Issues in Science and Technology, 16, 32–36.Google Scholar
- Hughes, T. P. (1994). Technological Momentum. In L. Marx & M. R. Smith (Eds.), Does technology drive history (Vol. does technology drive history? The dilemma of technological determinism) (pp. 101–113). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Ladd, J. (1980). The quest for a code of professional ethics: an intellectual and moral confusion. In R. Chalk, M. S. Frankel, & S. B. Chafer (Eds.), AAAS professional ethics project: Professional ethics activities in the scientific and engineering societies (pp. 154–159). Washington, DC: AAAS.Google Scholar
- Lederman, J. S., Lederman, N. G., Bartos, S. A., Bartels, S. L., Meyer, A. A., & Schwartz, R. S. (2013). Meaningful assessment of learners’ understandings about scientific inquiry-the views about scientific inquiry (VASI) questionnaire. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 51(1), 65–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Marx, L. (1987). Does technology mean progress. Technology Review, 33–41.Google Scholar
- Metlay, D., & Sarewitz, D. (2012). Decision strategies for addressing complex, ‘messy’ problems. The Bridge on Social Sciences and Engineering. National Academy of Engineering, 42(Fall 2012), 6-16.Google Scholar
- Murphy, T. A. (2004). Deliberative civic education and civil society: A consideration of ideals and actualities in democracy and communication education. Communication Education, 53(1).Google Scholar
- NRC. (2008) Grand challenges for engineering. National Academy of Sciences. http://engineeringchallenges.org/File.aspx?id=11574&v=ba24e2ed. Accessed May 19, 2015.
- Pinch, J., & Bijker, W. E. (1987). The social construction of facts and artifacts: Or how the sociology of science and the sociology of technology might benefit each other. In W. E. Bijker, T. P. Hughes, & T. Pinch (Eds.), The social construction of technological systems: New directions in the sociology and history of technology. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Rest, J., & Narvaez, D. (1998). DIT-2: Defining issues test. St. Paul, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota.Google Scholar
- Rommetveit, K., Strand, R., Fjelland, R., & Funtowicz, S. (2013). What can history teach us about the prospects of a European research area? Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. Report procured by the European Commission-Joint Research Centre, Institute for the Protection and the Security of the Citizen. http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/bitstream/JRC84065/histera_final_report_25.pdf. Accessed November 24, 2015.
- Stokes, D. E. (1997). Pasteur’s quadrant: Basic science and technological innovation. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar