Responsible conduct of research/Research integrity as core themes. Building on a prominent theme from the Warsaw workshop and other NRC reports about education related to dual use issues (NRC 2004, 2009b, 2010), broader principles of responsible conduct and research integrity rather than the “dual use” theme were chosen as the foundation for faculty development. By embedding the EPI in general discussions on professional conduct, participants accepted the idea that this more general approach would likely be more enduring and sustainable than focusing only on dual use issues. It also resonated with the participants from Egypt for whom a more comprehensive framework beyond research with dangerous pathogens is a more realistic educational opportunity. Such an inclusive approach would also enable future workshops to take advantage of other initiatives such as those mentioned in pages 1-2.
Importance of respecting and adapting to the national context of workshop host countries. One of the insights from earlier efforts to develop education programs on responsible conduct of science and dual use issues is the wide variation in higher education structure and process, and national education policy and how those differences could affect the design and implementation of programs (NRC 2010; Rappert 2010).
• The difficulty of introducing new material, especially beyond core science topics, into crowded curricula is a common concern among nations. In some countries introducing entire new courses into existing curricula can have a direct impact on the development and implementation of faculty networks both at an institutional and national level and efforts to develop nationwide approaches may be difficult. In some countries where institutions of higher education are largely autonomous (e.g., the United States), development of new courses can essentially result from an instructor’s initiative, with only limited approval needed from immediate supervisors. In nations with a centralized ministry of higher education (e.g., Egypt) a new course could require approval by national authorities, an often lengthy process.
• One of the most sensitive areas for teaching about dual use and related issues is the political and historical context of different countries, under which certain words have additional underlying connotations. The word “security” is such a word and its use may make faculty reluctant to become involved in anything that may be associated with “security” even if far removed from politics. This supports the point already made above about the advantages of embedding dual use issues within the broader framework of responsible conduct. It also may affect the choice of the local partners, for example, understanding whether formal or informal endorsement by certain government or education officials is essential or how important it might be to work with an institution that by virtue of its prestige or connections can provide flexibility for teaching new courses for its faculty.
• The importance of local context for the successful design of a faculty development program underscores the need of a preparatory site visit(s) as part of the planning process. One outcome of the Trieste workshop was the decision to send a small team of staff and Committee members to Egypt to meet with local faculty, university officials, and government administrators in Fall 2011. The purpose of these meetings is to inform university and government leaders about the planned workshop, and acquire their active support for its successful execution, for the participation of junior faculty, for any follow-on activities originating from the participants, and for the initiation of a network of faculty workshop participants who will subsequently become trainers for other faculty and their students. An important point to discuss will be the mechanism by which the participants will be chosen so that local mechanisms will be considered. As mentioned in the previous bullet, the advice of well-chosen local partners is invaluable in understanding the political sensitivities and planning a successful visit.
Advantages of a “science of learning” approach. The enthusiasm among participants for their experience with active learning reinforced the message from the Warsaw workshop about the value of such approaches in education about dual use and related, broader issues. The relevance of adopting such methods for classrooms and laboratories across the world is supported by the decision by the World Health Organization to revamp its biosafety train-the-trainer programs to adopt similar active learning methods (WHO 2006, 2010; for more details see Appendix E).
Sustainability of efforts: Value of a network approach and institutional support. As already mentioned, a continuing challenge for efforts to promote new concepts, materials, and pedagogical approaches is the competition for space in a crowded curriculum. It is essential that, from the beginning, the planning for any such effort include a focus on strategies to make the project sustainable. The lessons from efforts in many other areas reinforce the value of building networks of faculty who can share experiences and provide mutual reinforcement (NRC 2010). Follow-up meetings and
strong networks can more effectively facilitate true transformation in faculty teaching behaviors (Ebert-May et al. 2011). For example, creating opportunities for participants in a faculty development workshop to get together after their initial experience in implementing what they have learned has proved extremely valuable to sustaining commitment and momentum (Pfund et al. 2009). In a broader context, building institutional support for sustaining not only the network but the faculty’s ability to introduce others to these concepts as well as support for both teaching and research would help foster the culture of responsible science.
Assessment and evaluation. The “science of learning” approach emphasizes concrete goals and continual, measurable outcomes of student performance, whether qualitative or quantitative. Effective evaluation depends on incorporating assessment as an integral part of the follow-on activities and as such would inform any strategies to sustain these educational efforts.
Advance planning. Since this is a new endeavor for the NRC, the preparations for the first workshop included the formal planning meeting and a site visit. If the program is successful, it is assumed that other countries in the MENA region will be able to participate in workshops hosted by the Egyptian network as the basis for launching their own projects. The NRC may have a supporting role but there will be less hands- on involvement as countries gain experience and take “ownership.” This is the model that the NASI program has adopted as it expands from a single national institute to multiple regional ones (see Box 2). There may still be cases where an initial site visit would be helpful, for example when the program begins in a new region, but the intent is to build a largely self-sustaining endeavor.
The workshop itself. The success of the NASI program (Pfund et al. 2009), as well as of other programs for faculty development, have suggested some basic features for a workshop:
• In person. Although it is becoming increasingly feasible to create and sustain virtual networks using resources such as videoconferencing and web 2.0 communications, there is still substantial value in bringing people together to be immersed in a common experience. Personal interactions also allow for informal communication outside the defined schedule that can be valuable to the network-building process.
• Duration. Experience from 8 years of NASIs suggests that 4 to 5 day long workshops would be optimal, given the amount of new material that participants would be expected to absorb and the value of cumulative learning-by-doing (see Box 2). Participants would be expected to do some advance
preparation, but the main experiences would be obtained during the meeting itself.
• Team-based. A key element for ensuring success and enhancing sustainability in the NASIs is the participation of teams from institutions, preferably including a range of junior to senior members on each team. Gaining buy-in from administrators is critical and it has proved useful to have them among the participants. The NASI model has shown added success and commitment by participants if their home institute provides at least modest resources to help implement what faculty learn.
• Hands-on. As the design of the planning meeting suggested, the workshop would be built around extensive, direct participation. Participants would have the opportunity to be both “students” and “teachers,” to practice the methods they are learning, and to develop “teachable tidbits” and other materials (e.g., appropriate assessments) to help them implement their new courses or modules at their home institutions.
• Implementation and Assessment. An important feature of the workshop’s hands-on approach is the commitment to assist participants in implementing what they have learned. In addition to implementing new ideas or courses, they will acquire experience and resources to plan and carry out effective assessments of whether the learning goals of their new activities are being met. As already mentioned in the context of sustainability, thinking about assessment from the outset is helpful on multiple levels. Examples of useful assessment techniques include observation of the participants, collecting and analyzing work samples, introducing checklists of skills, use of quizzes and/or self-assessment tools, interviews, etc.
The Network. Fostering successful and sustainable networks of faculty able to teach about dual use issues and broader problems of responsible conduct in science and research depends on several key elements, some of which have already been discussed earlier in this report.
• From the beginning. Given the emphasis on forward planning, strategies for building and sustaining the network of faculty will be part of the earliest discussions of the workshop. As previously presented, networks will be influenced by the local/national context, for example with regard to the degree of faculty autonomy in course design.
• Resources. As mentioned above, whenever possible participants in the workshop will be provided with materials and other resources to help them implement what they have learned. Modest resources from their home institution to show its commitment and obligation may be particularly desirable in the project’s initial stages. It is the existence and ready availability of these resources rather
than their amount that matters most; in many situations modest resources can have a significant impact.
• Continuing connections. Another way to help build a network is to have project staff from the sponsoring organization available for consultation to participants after the workshop as they implement their new ideas (courses, modules, etc.). These connections would reinforce rather than substitute for local commitment.
• Appraisal. The NASI arranges for at least some of the team members to get together approximately six months after the Institute to share experiences and challenges, reinforce ties, and make plans and adjustments. This is always important but is particularly critical in the early days of a long-term project, i.e., the first years of implementation. The anticipation of a reunion may also encourage participants to persevere with applying their new skills, since it should be expected that, in spite of resources and support, at least some of them would encounter barriers or become discouraged.
The syllabus (e.g., content and pedagogy) of the institute is developed in close consultation with the faculty in whose country it will take place. The elements described below have been adapted to the needs identified by the faculty from research institutions in Egypt. Consequently, these may have to be modified to best fit the characteristics of each country.
During the planning meeting in Trieste, the general themes of the EPI were identified (listed on page 18) but the detailed content was not discussed. This is one of the tasks that the Committee overseeing this project is working on in close collaboration with the experts from Egypt who took part in the planning meeting.
The importance of the workshop’s title. In the planning meeting a substantial amount of time was devoted to selecting an appropriate title for the future Institute. While the chosen title reflects the core interests of the planners, it was mostly shaped by the Egyptian experts. It is aspirational and evokes the notions of education; responsible research; infectious diseases (or other life science); and safety in science: Education in responsible research with infectious diseases: Ensuring safe science in the 21st century. It also reflects the sensitivities to potential implications of such words and concepts as dual use and biosecurity under current conditions in Egypt; it is unclear whether other workshops in other settings would experience the same concerns as strongly.12 It is possible that further consultations during the site visit might led to modification of the title, for example if it seems desirable to broaden the focus beyond infectious disease.
12 See NRC (2010) and Rappert (2010) for accounts of the experiences of programs on dual use issues in other countries.
Goals of the EPI. Expanding on the themes previously discussed, the following three are the goals to achieve by the faculty workshop:
1. Understand the ethical and legal responsibilities of physical and life scientists. The existence of multinational and multidisciplinary perspectives, guidelines and legal frameworks on what constitutes responsible life sciences research makes a discussion on the various norms and cultures of the practice of science very valuable. It would also foster the idea of a global science and research community, although the amount of legal information necessary is a matter of discussion. At the end of the workshop the participants will have a clearer appreciation of responsible conduct in research and science.
2. Educate participants in the conduct of responsible science. The workshop will foster good practice in teaching life and physical sciences and teach participants to adapt these to their own subject matters. At the end of the workshop the participants will have an appreciation for active learning techniques as these apply to responsible scientific practices, they will be able to utilize the teaching methods of the workshop, and to incorporate the workshop materials into existing programs in their own institutions.
3. Cultivate future leaders in responsible science and research integrity. In order to sustain the impetus for this project and foster a sense of achievement and dignity the workshop participants will be encouraged to not only develop good research practices but to identify the necessary support system to facilitate such changes. In the formative years of the project, the accomplishments of the site visit and the guidance of the NRC Committee members will be crucial to identify champions and to foster the exchange of scientists around the world to sustain this effort. An example of how to structure the activities at the institute using a learning outcomes approach is shown in Table 1.
Activities and Assessments. There are numerous activities to choose from to implement what was learned at the EPI at each participant’s home institution. The choices could be influenced by what integrates well within a laboratory, a department or an institution and what is commonly used and accepted in a country’s educational system. Pfund and colleagues have described a number of activities originating from the 6 years of Summer Institutes (Pfund et al. 2009), and below are some additional examples:
• Brown bag seminars.
• A new course on responsible conduct of research (this may take a long time for approval, depending on the national structure of education curricula in a country).
TABLE 1 Example of a “Learning Outcomes” approach.
|General goals addressed||Specific learning objectives/outcomes||Types of assessments that measure objective||Activity that accomplishes that specific objective|
|Participants will be advocates for teaching responsible conduct of research and practice of science.||Develop a teaching module to illustrate the use of the concepts of responsible conduct of research.||Develop an assessment instrument that will demonstrate the student’s ability to use the concepts you have discussed to solve practical problems.
Use a historical case study to engage students and deepen their awareness of the various issues.
|Present your approach to your colleagues in the Institute and obtain their feedback.|
|Participants will have an awareness of hazards in the laboratory and know how to bring that awareness to others.
Be able to describe biosafety guidelines and standards of practice to prospective trainees
|Identify the difference between chemical and biological hazards.
Offer a problem and ask students to describe any obvious hazardous situations.
|Tested knowledge; pre- and post- assessment.
Expertise sharing (own experiences of best practice; own stories of not-so-best practices).
|Group activities, small group discussions, clicker questions.|
|Appreciate the ethical, legal, and social responsibilities of life scientists.||Indentify policies and guidelines and regulatory statements of both international and local bodies and critique the applicability of these statements.
Able to write standards of practice for their own institution, department, or laboratory.
|Convey these policies to the workers/students in their native language.
Critique and discuss how these apply to participants’ own experience, laboratory, institution, or country.
|Locate and read/discuss these guidelines with the group.
Discuss cases from historical examples (e.g., Thomas Butler).
Discuss case studies specific to the group itself, e.g., based on personal experience.
• Incorporation of new teaching methods within existing courses in the life sciences adding the elements of RCR/RI teaching.
At the end of the project a meeting of the EPI participants, Committee members and project staff will take place to measure success, discuss challenges and new activities to be undertaken (this also happens with the NASI). While no specific assessment tool has been designed, oral deliberations -especially during the formative years of the project- between participants are thought to be the most helpful assessment tool. It is possible that, following the completion of the EPI and the debriefing meeting a few months later, the Committee will formulate guidelines on data to be collected from participants and analyzed in the footsteps of the NASI.
Costs and Implementation Issues. Although these are important issues, they can only be addressed after the EPI has taken place.