CSEPP awards research grants
Published: Monday, September 2, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 2, 2013 18:09
In an attempt to integrate and improve science, ethics and policy principles into the classroom, the Center for Science, Ethics and Public Policy at the university gave 14 professors $3,000 grants this summer to enhance their undergraduate and graduate classes.
According to Thomas Powers, professor of philosophy and director of CSEPP, the goal of the Integrative Curriculum Development Grant is to support faculty who want to improve their current and planned courses, and is funded by a larger five-year National Science Foundation-Delaware EPSCoR grant given to the center in 2009.
To apply, faculty members were required to submit the syllabus for the course they intended to use the grant for, as well as a one-page proposal detailing how they would integrate research ethics, environmental ethics and policy, science policy, bioethics or other ethical, social or legal issues into the curriculum. The applicants were then reviewed and chosen by CSEPP staff.
“We looked at all the applications, and if we thought that it was a course that made sense to put an ethics module in and we were confident the faculty member was going to be able to achieve what he or she planned to do, then we felt confident in awarding them,” Powers says.
Although the grant provides faculty with an incentive to update their curriculum, Powers says it also encourages interdisciplinary learning and shows faculty that all kinds of courses could benefit from the improvement.
Erin Brannick, professor of animal and food sciences and recipient of the grant, says she felt her ANFS 467/667 Biomedical Communications course could benefit from an ethics module since it teaches students the written, oral and visual communication skills needed to be successful in scientific careers. A big part of that success, she says, is dependent on a researcher’s reputation.
“Anything from thinking about racism, which everyone comes to right away, to authorship and how to assign credit where it’s due, and thinking ahead to when you are serving on review panels or reviewing articles for publication are all important to do in an ethical manner,” Brannick says.
One way Brannick says she plans to help students realize the importance of ethics in the scientific process is to add a weekly blog assignment to the curriculum. The objective of the assignment is to review a case study and respond to how the scientists conducted themselves and the final outcome.
Student groups will also find their own case study to evaluate and present their findings to the class at the end of the semester, she says.
In addition, Brannick says she plans to host an ethics panel consisting of researchers from UD and outside sources who have been on review panels or institutional review boards. This change to the course is where most of the grant money will be spent, she says.