This text is taken from the letter report of the meeting (NRC. 2011e. Research in the Life Sciences with Dual Use Potential: An International Faculty Development Project on Education about the Responsible Conduct of Science. Washington: National Academies Press, pp. 14-19). The material has been lightly edited to ensure that references to boxes or tables or specific pages are appropriate for this report.
GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE EGYPTIAN PROTOTYPE INSTITUTE (EPI)63
Advance planning. Since this is a new endeavor for the National Research Council (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 National Academies Summer Institutes (NASI) program has adopted as it expands from a single national institute to multiple regional ones (see Chapter 3). 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 Chapter 2). 3 Participants would be expected to do some advance preparation, but the main
63 This is the title adopted when it was assumed the focus would be on a single country. With the move to a regional approach, the title of the institute became Education in responsible research with infectious diseases: Ensuring safe science in the 21st century.
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 handson 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.
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.
DETAILS OF THE EGYPTIAN PROTOTYPE INSTITUTE GOALS AND LEARNING OBJECTIVES
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 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 concepts such 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.64
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 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
64 See NRC (2011c) and Rappert (2010) for accounts of the experiences of programs on dual use issues in other countries.
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 C-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)
• 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.
TABLE C-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.||Identify the difference between chemical and biological hazards. Be able to describe biosafety guidelines and standards of practice to prospective trainees||Tested knowledge; preand postassessment.
Offer a problem and ask students to describe any obvious hazardous situations.
|Group activities, small group discussions, clicker questions.
Expertise sharing (own experiences of best practice; own stories of not-so-best practices).
|Appreciate the ethical, legal, and social responsibilities of life scientists.||Indentify polices 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.