A wave of discoveries in the life sciences, supported by new enabling technologies and drawing on many fields beyond biology, is yielding great social and economic benefits and promises continuing gains in the future. Inspired by this vision, governments across the globe, as well as regional and international organizations, are launching strategies and making investments to apply these advances to address challenges related to food, energy, economic development, the environment, animal and plant health, and human well-being. One of the exciting aspects of this “Century of Biology” is the diffusion of research capacity and infrastructure to many parts of the world, creating an increasingly global life sciences research enterprise.
Along with these hopes and achievements, however, have come concerns about the implications of such rapid advances. Concerns include uneasiness about how an increased understanding of basic life processes, and the resulting potential to manipulate and control them, may result in unintended impacts on the environment or human well-being, or the risk of deliberate misuse of knowledge, tools, and techniques from the life sciences to cause harm.
How the scientific community responds to these concerns can be considered part of the broader relationship between science and society. Beyond its fundamental quest for greater knowledge and understanding, science is conducted in a social context. Science depends on public support, including but not limited to the substantial funding that enables research to take place. Ensuring that scientific research is carried out responsibly is essential to maintaining the relationship between science and society.
The scientific community itself, through its professional bodies and other groups, plays a leading role in fostering and maintaining the norms and standards for what constitutes responsible conduct of science. These standards also provide the basis for training and education about expectations—and in some cases requirements—for professional and responsible behavior. As science becomes an increasingly global enterprise, a growing number of international scientific organizations have joined the activities of national bodies to underscore the ethical imperatives for all involved in scientific research. In addition, a strong tradition of self-governance to maintain responsible conduct in scientific research, often referred to as a “culture of responsibility,” provides the foundation for scientists to respond to societal concerns.
Life scientists address ethical and safety issues in their work through three overlapping fields that provide norms and practices to guide research: biosafety, bioethics, and responsible conduct of research. Biosafety practices, which have been codified as national and international guidelines, have developed over the last several decades to safeguard the health of laboratory workers and avoid accidental or inadvertent releases of dangerous biological agents and toxins that could harm people or the environment. Bioethics encompasses a wide
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Summary BACKGROUND the substantial funding that enables research to take place. Ensuring that scientific research is A wave of discoveries in the life sciences, carried out responsibly is essential to supported by new enabling technologies and maintaining the relationship between science drawing on many fields beyond biology, is and society. yielding great social and economic benefits and The scientific community itself, through its promises continuing gains in the future. professional bodies and other groups, plays a Inspired by this vision, governments across the leading role in fostering and maintaining the globe, as well as regional and international norms and standards for what constitutes organizations, are launching strategies and responsible conduct of science. These standards making investments to apply these advances to also provide the basis for training and education address challenges related to food, energy, about expectations—and in some cases economic development, the environment, requirements—for professional and responsible animal and plant health, and human well-being. behavior. As science becomes an increasingly One of the exciting aspects of this “Century of global enterprise, a growing number of Biology” is the diffusion of research capacity and international scientific organizations have joined infrastructure to many parts of the world, the activities of national bodies to underscore creating an increasingly global life sciences the ethical imperatives for all involved in research enterprise. scientific research. In addition, a strong tradition Along with these hopes and achievements, of self-governance to maintain responsible however, have come concerns about the conduct in scientific research, often referred to implications of such rapid advances. Concerns as a “culture of responsibility,” provides the include uneasiness about how an increased foundation for scientists to respond to societal understanding of basic life processes, and the concerns. resulting potential to manipulate and control Life scientists address ethical and safety them, may result in unintended impacts on the issues in their work through three overlapping environment or human well-being, or the risk of fields that provide norms and practices to guide deliberate misuse of knowledge, tools, and research: biosafety, bioethics, and responsible techniques from the life sciences to cause harm. conduct of research. Biosafety practices, which How the scientific community responds to have been codified as national and international these concerns can be considered part of the guidelines, have developed over the last several broader relationship between science and decades to safeguard the health of laboratory society. Beyond its fundamental quest for greater workers and avoid accidental or inadvertent knowledge and understanding, science is releases of dangerous biological agents and conducted in a social context. Science depends toxins that could harm people or the on public support, including but not limited to environment. Bioethics encompasses a wide 1
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2 Developing Capacities for Teaching Responsible Science in the MENA Region range of ethical issues in different national and engaged in a series of activities to address risks disciplinary contexts, including basic research, from potential or deliberate misuse of life medical interventions and specifically clinical sciences research. One major line of work has settings, and protections for human subjects in been to inform policymakers about these issues research. Bioethics also engages many disciplines and national and international efforts to beyond science and medicine, such as politics, minimize, and hopefully prevent, misuse. law, philosophy, and theology, so there is great Another has identified how best to encourage diversity in bioethics education programs. The greater engagement by scientists and scientific third field is known by various names, including organizations through education and raising “research integrity,” “scientific integrity,” and awareness about the importance of responsible “research ethics.” In the United States, for conduct in all of its dimensions. The latter example, the term “responsible conduct of activities have set the stage for a major initiative research” (RCR) emerged in the late 1980s in by the National Research Council (NRC) of the response to rising concerns about research U.S. National Academies and its international misconduct. Over time, the mandate evolved partners to develop and implement a series of into a variably defined set of policies and strategic approaches to their education activities. professional standards that suggested The first part of the initiative applies a model appropriate subjects for instruction. developed by the U.S. National Academies to use Where and what material students learn active learning methods to improve the quality about any of the norms and practices in these of undergraduate biology education to the fields depends on their area of study, educational challenges of creating networks of faculty able to institution, and stage of education. They may teach about dual use issues (see Box 1-1) in the receive formal instruction ranging from single context of responsible conduct of science.1 lectures or online modules to full courses. In 2008 the U.S. State Department provided Informal mechanisms such as mentoring by support for an international workshop, senior researchers also are important. The scope convened in Warsaw by several international and quality of education vary widely, but many scientific organizations and organized by the students still receive little or no exposure to U.S. National Academies and the Polish education about responsible conduct of research Academy of Sciences, to: in the United States, and the problem is worse in survey strategies and resources available other countries. Proposals and initiatives to internationally for education on dual use extend the reach and improve the quality of issues and identify gaps, education for life scientists about responsible consider ideas for filling the gaps, including conduct of research coincide with and provide a development of new educational materials context for a growing interest in education as a and implementation of effective teaching fundamental component of efforts to address methods, and concerns about deliberate misuse. discuss approaches for including education on dual use issues in the training of life scientists. THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES’S FACULTY DEVELOPMENT PROJECT 1 Dual use refers to research that, although undertaken for Since the early 2000s, national and beneficial purposes, has the potential to yield results that international scientific organizations have been could be misused to cause deliberate harm.
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Summary 3 A key feature of the workshop was the inclusion an ad hoc committee of the National Academies, of experts in the growing body of research on the under the auspices of its Board on Life Sciences, science of learning about how adults learn and with members from the United States, the what are therefore the most effective approaches United Kingdom, and Egypt. It was to teaching about responsible conduct. implemented as a partnership with the An ad hoc committee under the auspices of Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt, the National Academies, with substantial and The World Academy of Science (TWAS), in international membership, produced a report Trieste, Italy, to draw upon those organizations’ from that workshop with a number of extensive ties in the region and increase the conclusions and recommendations for chance for the initiative to become sustainable. improving education. One of the major The first phase centered on a planning recommendations was to create networks of meeting held at TWAS in late spring 2011 to faculty through train-the-trainer programs using design a general framework for educational active learning approaches drawn from the institutes for faculty based on the successful science of learning (a description of active model of the National Academies Summer learning techniques is in Chapter 3 of this Institute for Undergraduate Biology Education report). The networks would provide the basis (hereafter NASI) organized by the National on which to build sustainable efforts to Academies and sponsored primarily by the introduce issues in the context of responsible Howard Hughes Medical Institute for conduct of science such as dual use. The project undergraduate biology faculty described in this report grew out of the (www.academiessummerinstitute.org/). In the recommendations of that workshop. project’s second phase, the first Institute was In 2010, the Biosecurity Engagement held in Aqaba, Jordan, in September 2012 for 28 Program (BEP) of the U.S. State Department, participants from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, which provided funding for the Warsaw and Yemen. It combined sessions devoted to the workshop, agreed to support a two-year project content of responsible conduct that to implement some of the workshop’s key incorporated various active learning techniques recommendations. The full Statement of Task to model what the participants might do in their for the project appears in Box S-1. The Middle home institutions. For example, the participants East–North Africa (MENA) region was chosen discussed a number of real and hypothetical to test a prototype that might then be applied in cases that illustrated different aspects of other countries or regions if successful. In responsible science, such as authorship and addition to the lessons from the Warsaw mentorship, the MMR (measles/mumps/rubella) workshop about the most effective ways to vaccine and autism, and the controversy in 2011 introduce issues of potential misuse it was hoped and 2012 over the publication of gain-of- that combining the best pedagogies with function research related to the H5N1 virus. responsible conduct of science would be an Additional work in small groups gave them appealing capacity-building opportunity for opportunities to use the techniques they were faculty in countries that are interested in using acquiring during the Institute to develop life sciences research for economic growth and materials that would be useful to their individual improved well-being. academic situations and to present them to other The project was carried out in stages, as participants prior to returning home. shown in the Statement of Task, and overseen by
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4 Developing Capacities for Teaching Responsible Science in the MENA Region An online survey shortly after the Institute approaches to colleagues at their home gathered the participants’ initial impressions institutions and in their disciplines. about their experiences there. In the third and Teaching about and modeling pedagogy can final phase, project participants were invited to play a significant role in the success of an apply for small grants to implement some of the Institute. combinations of content and methods they The demanding pace of the Institute made it designed at the Institute for their home hard for some participants to comprehend institutions. A small reunion in Amman, Jordan, the concepts and techniques fully and apply in April 2013 for the leaders of the teams that them during small group work. Future received grants enabled the participants to Institutes will benefit either by providing discuss their experiences up to that point, share more time to integrate active learning with their insights about the Institute, and consider new content or by reducing the breadth or how their efforts might continue at their both. institutions and across the MENA region. Their The design of resources and assessments for suggestions and lessons provided an important an Institute benefits from particular component of the formulation of the attention to linguistic and cultural committee’s findings and conclusions in this differences among participants and report. facilitators. Working with partners from the region where the Institute will take place allows organizers to take into account local INSIGHTS AND REALITIES: customs, traditions, and cultures in ways LESSONS FROM THE PROJECT that remove barriers and foster stronger relationships among organizers and Insights participants. The NASI have demonstrated that a reunion The NASI model, which involves a variety of of some participants following an Institute evidence-based approaches to active teaching, can provide new insights about participants' learning, engagement, and assessment, can be challenges, resources, and opportunities for adapted to different topics, cultural contexts, networking and for sustaining programs and countries. In the course of reviewing the (details in Chapter 5). The Institute design and implementation of this Institute, the described in this report further confirmed committee identified a number of insights that a reunion can be especially important including logistical, academic, and cultural for participants from developing countries. challenges and realities that could help to For example, by the end of the reunion in improve future projects. Jordan, the scientists who attended agreed that their ability to conduct their own work Active engagement of committee members around responsible conduct and to reach and Institute leaders before, during, and other colleagues at their home institutions, after the Institute is crucial. across their individual countries, and in the A detailed application and merit-based MENA region as a whole could be expanded selection process can identify enthusiastic and sustained by establishing a network and committed participants who will, in among them. They decided to use this turn, demonstrate the importance of such network to share ideas, common challenges,
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Summary 5 and opportunities, and to develop joint teaching about science occurs in English but proposals for future work. instructors sometimes provide additional As with the development of the NASI, new explanations or contexts in Arabic (or Institutes will require continuing French in Algeria). Similarly, Arabic- experimentation with and evaluation of all speaking scientists and students may aspects of their design. Feedback from the interpret English words in ways that are participants, combined with the results of different from what the organizers intend. their projects, can play an important role in For example, the facilitator team learned future iterations. that there is only one Arabic word for the The introduction of both new pedagogies two English words “search” and “research,” and new content at the same time can be a which may contribute to misunderstanding significant challenge for some participants. the standards for plagiarism in English- Reviewing background materials in advance language journals among Arabic-speaking of the Institute can lessen this impact. scientists and students. For example, several However, materials written in English about participants told the group that when they new concepts, such as active learning and ask their students to define “research,” their dual use, may present obstacles for non- common response is to find the information English speakers. in question on Google or another search engine. Hence, these students are not Realities concerned with copying and pasting information from the Internet into their Framing biosafety and dual use issues in the own essays and research reports. context of responsible science was Scientific research in the MENA region has meaningful to many participants. However, advanced remarkably over the last based on conversations during plenary generation. Nonetheless, participants discussions with the participants who reiterated that the lack of a formal attended the reunion meeting in Amman, framework and infrastructure for research in practical realities such as the lack of basic their countries (e.g., the absence of scientific equipment, reliable Internet comprehensive policies and oversight connections, and access to scientific journals structures regarding authorship, peer impede scientists in this region, and review, research with laboratory animals and especially those from more impoverished human subjects, and biosafety) makes it nations, from undertaking research at a level difficult for scientists to follow international where dual use issues raise concerns for standards and to teach best practices in them. People undertaking activities where responsible science to their students. research with dual use potential and/or As the committee learned from the active misuse of technologies is to be one of the learning exercise conducted on day 1 of the topics need to take this reality into account Institute in which participants from each when planning their events or programs. nation worked together to describe their Some concepts that are crucial to active country’s system of higher education (see learning, responsible science, and dual use Chapter 4), there are similarities and cannot be expressed in Arabic. In most of differences in education philosophies, the countries represented at this Institute, approaches to teaching and learning,
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6 Developing Capacities for Teaching Responsible Science in the MENA Region facilities, and resources among nations. The revealed a great deal of variation in the ways differences need to be taken into in which participants in those activities were consideration when planning future surveyed about their learning and the Institutes. project’s efficacy. Assessment and evaluation The small grants awarded to participants are an issue for science faculty across the were used creatively to address an array of world. Providing additional guidance and educational needs that they identified. In models of survey instruments before such many cases these funds prompted projects are undertaken could provide much subsequent institutional support to sustain more useful and usable data for future participants’ instructional activities. initiatives. However, as also occurs in the United States, limited funding restricted the ability of these Taken together, these insights offer motivated science educators to reach larger important lessons for the design and audiences who would benefit from implementation of future programs in the instruction on responsible science, biosafety, MENA region as well as in other parts of the and dual use issues. world. At the reunion, discussions following each presentation and after all presenters had described their post-Institute activities
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Summary 7 Box S-1 Statement of Task An ad hoc committee appointed by the National Research Council will develop a framework for an international series of faculty development institutes in key regions around the world with the goal of promoting and enhancing education about issues related to research in the life sciences with dual use potential in the context of responsible conduct of science. The institutes will bring together higher education faculty in the life sciences as well as experts in related areas to gain greater understanding and experience with methods for effective teaching and learning, develop curricular materials to facilitate education about dual use issues that they will use in their classes, and become prepared to be leaders in their communities on these topics. The project will be conducted in three phases: Phase I: Planning. The committee will organize and hold a planning meeting, which will bring together life science educators from the Middle East–North Africa region with leaders in dual use issues and science education. The planning meeting will help to answer substantive and logistical questions that will guide the organization of Phase II, including issues such as scheduling, language, target audience, and evaluation, outreach and dissemination strategies. A consensus letter report will be prepared to guide the organization of Phase II and to serve as a model for organizing similar institutes in the MENA or other regions. In its report, the committee may offer guidance on the distribution of resources to support implementation and follow-up activities. Phase II: First Faculty Development Institute. The committee will organize a first institute that will feature several invited presentations in addition to workgroups and hands-on exercises. The committee will identify the topics, select and invite speakers and other participants, and work with regional hosts in organizing the session. Phase III: Implementation and Additional Activities. The committee will work with participants from the first institute to help them implement what they have learned at their home institutions. Small amounts of funding to support implementation, such as the development of new materials, brown bag seminars, or other activities will be made available to at least some of the participating faculty. A follow-up meeting for institute alumni will take be held approximately 6-9 months after the institute, which a small group of staff and committee members will attend. The committee will also oversee the preparation of a final consensus report that would provide an account of the first institute, the activities initiated by the participants at their home institutions, the discussions at the follow-up meeting of the alumni, and an evaluation of the outcomes. It will also offer further conclusions about successful practices for preparing faculty to teach about research with dual use potential.
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