CORVALLIS - More than three dozen science educators from leading colleges and universities around the country will begin an intensive week-long training session at Oregon State University this Saturday, learning how to better incorporate ethics into their science curriculum.
This special national bioethics institute is being funded by the National Science Foundation - one of three that the NSF will fund on bioethics during 1998-99, said Courtney Campbell, director of OSU's Program for Ethics, Science and the Environment.
Campbell said science and ethics have become more and more intertwined in the 1990s as researchers make advances in cloning and other genetic engineering efforts, natural resources continue to shrink, human populations are spreading and living longer, and communication technology has made an unbelievable amount of information - and misinformation - available in so many fields.
How to teach these the science of these innovations without ignoring their social implications is becoming more difficult, Campbell pointed out.
"The relationship between ethics and science is becoming more pronounced - and is under greater scrutiny - than ever before," Campbell said. "It is important to discuss these issues with students, but when ethics professors go into a science classroom, they don't necessarily have the credibility with students, and it gives the appearance that ethics are peripheral to the 'regular' curriculum.
"What we hope to do is begin training science faculty how to integrate the teaching of ethics throughout the curriculum."
Among the topics planned: ethical issues surrounding biotechnology, the renewed interest in land ethics and natural resources, environmental ethics, the moral and ethical status of animals in research, the role of religion in the teaching of science, the sustainability and recovery of biological resources, the role of science in formulating public policy, and intellectual property and biotechnology.
Faculty presenting sessions to the scientists include Gary Comstock, a bioethicist from Iowa State University; Steven Davis, animal science, OSU; Paul Thompson, philosophy, Purdue University; Kathleen Moore, philosophy, OSU; Kathryn George, philosophy, University of Idaho; Barbara Licklider, education, Iowa State University; Gary Varner, philosophy, Texas A&M University; Bryan Norton, public policy, Georgia Institute of Technology; Michael Flower, biology, Portland State University; Peter List, philosophy, OSU; and Campbell.