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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Laura J. Harkewicz
GEN ST 391
Seattle Campus

Supervised Study in Selected Fields

Special supervised study in a field represented in the College of Arts and Sciences. Faculty supervisor required. Offered: AWSpS.

Class description

Research Ethics Exposed! offers undergraduate students in all areas of study an opportunity to learn about ethics issues that are an active concern for University of Washington faculty working in cutting edge fields of research in the social and natural sciences. Each week through the quarter a faculty member from a different field will identify key ethics issues with which they wrestle in their own research.

This course will begin with an introduction to framing concepts and issues, and close with an open forum class discussion convened by the course instructor. Each week through the quarter a faculty member from a different field will identify key ethics issues with which they wrestle in their own research. Here are some of the questions they will be addressing: • Is there research scientists shouldn’t do? • Are researchers responsible for the impact of their work, good and bad? • Do the ends justify the means, for example, where risks of harm to animal or human subjects are concerned? • What counts as research integrity? How do scientists navigate the conflicting demands of funding agencies, industry, their own research communities? • What lessons should we take away from high profile examples of scientific fraud and misconduct? • Do scientists have a responsibility to communicate the results of their research, its risks as well as its benefits, to the public? What kinds of public outreach make a difference to the science and to those who have a stake in its outcomes? • Should scientists play an active role in setting policy that affects the funding and conduct of their research, and the use made of its results, or should they serve as hands-off consultants?

This course is sponsored by the Biological Futures in a Globalized World, a cluster of initiatives hosted by the Simpson Center for the Humanities in partnership with the Center for Biological Futures at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The goal of the Biological Futures program is to foster better thinking about the global impact of dramatic increases in biological knowledge that now put us in a position to manipulate and build living systems on an unprecedented scale.

Student learning goals

Students will learn first hand about a range of ethics issues that researchers confront regularly.

Students will develop an understanding of current norms of responsible conduct of research.

Students will be introduced to key concepts and tools of analysis drawn from philosophical ethics, historical and social studies of science, and science policy.

Students will have the opportunity to reflect on the responsibilities that natural and social scientists, research subjects, and citizens jointly have for the wise direction and us of research.

General method of instruction

Lecture and group discussion.

Recommended preparation

No prerequisites. Attend all lectures, read materials provided, take notes.

Class assignments and grading

Students must contribute at least two online postings during the quarter. They must also pass a final quiz based on the questions circulated by the lecture presenters. The quiz is scheduled for the last day of class. The quiz will consist of 10 questions selected at random from the collection of questions given by each presenter. You will not know in advance which questions will appear on the final exam.

To earn credit for the course, students need to do two things: 1) Post on the online Go Post at least twice AND 2) Pass the final quiz. To pass this course, you will need to answer correctly 7 out of the 10 questions on the quiz.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Laura J. Harkewicz
Date: 09/13/2012