Exploring Societal and Ethical Views of Nanotechnology REUs

NanoEthics 8 (1):91-99 (2014)
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Little previous research has examined attitudes about societal and ethical issues (SEI) among interns participating in research experience for undergraduate programs (REUs) in nanotechnology, thus neglecting an important population for understanding the burgeoning views of the next generation of nanotechnology researchers. This study surveyed a sample of interns (N = 85) participating in the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network’s (NNIN) REU program during the summer of 2012. Our questions focused on interns’ experiences with education on ethical issues, as well as their attribution of responsibility for considering ethical issues, motivations to talk about ethical issues, and comfort level of discussing ethical issues with faculty, mentors, lab staff, and other REU students. Among key findings was that lab culture related to the extent to which REU interns felt comfortable discussing ethical issues. In addition, those who reported more discussions about ethical issues with their mentors were more likely to consider themselves as responsible for considering ethical issues. We conclude with recommendations and future research directions



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