Multidisciplinary engagement with nanoethics through education—the nanobio-raise advanced courses as a case study and model

NanoEthics 3 (3) (2009)
This paper presents and evaluates two advanced courses organised in Oxford as part of the European project Nanobio-RAISE and suggests using their format to encourage multidisciplinary engagement between nanoscientists and nanoethicists. Several nanoethicists have recently identified the need for ‘better’ ethics of emerging technologies, arguing that ethical reflection should become part and parcel of the research and development (R&D) process itself. Such new forms of ethical deliberation, it is argued, transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries and require the active engagement and involvement of both nanoethicists and nanoscientists with the broader issues surrounding technological developments. Whereas significant research efforts into multi- and interdisciplinary collaborations during R&D processes are now emerging, opportunities for encouraging multidisciplinary engagement through education have remained relatively underexplored. This paper argues that educational programmes could be a natural extension of ongoing collaborative research efforts ‘in the lab’ and analyses how the Nanobio-RAISE courses could be used as a model for course development. In addition to exploring how the elements that were conducive to multidisciplinary engagement in this course could be preserved in future courses, this paper suggests shifting the emphasis from public communication towards ethical deliberation. Further course work could thus build capacity among both nanoscientists and nanoethicists for doing ‘better’ nanoethics.
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