The Walkshop Approach to Science and Technology Ethics

Science and Engineering Ethics 21 (1):241-264 (2015)
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Abstract

In research and teaching on ethical aspects of emerging sciences and technologies, the structure of working environments, spaces and relationships play a significant role. Many of the routines and standard practices of academic life, however, do little to actively explore and experiment with these elements. They do even less to address the importance of contextual and embodied dimensions of thinking. To engage these dimensions, we have benefitted significantly from practices that take us out of seminar rooms, offices and laboratories as well as beyond traditional ways of working and interacting. We have called one such practice the ‘walkshop’. Through walkshops, we have spent several days walking together with our colleagues and students in open outdoor spaces, keeping a sustained intellectual discussion on ethical aspects of science, technology and innovation while moving through these landscapes. For us, this has generated useful opportunities to escape established hierarchies, roles and patterns of thought and to rethink conceptual and philosophical issues from new perspectives, under new attitudes and with renewed energy. In this paper we wish to highlight the potential benefits of the walkshop approach by sharing some of our experiences and describing how we have prepared for and carried out these events. We share this information in the hope that we may encourage others to both experiment with the walkshop approach and exchange information on their own innovative processes for research and teaching in science and engineering ethics

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