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About Us

Mission

Our overarching mission is to understand, evaluate, and improve the ethical and cultural influences on and implications of science and technology.

Our mission is driven by several key ideas: Innovation led by the heart as well as the head. Science that is ethically and socially responsible. Social and cultural change informed by the best science and technology. Using creativity, knowledge, and intelligence to make the world a better place in which to live.

To subserve our mission we have established 3 objectives. Our first objective is to foster recognition of the many and complex ways that ethics, values, and culture interact with science, technology, and medicine. We work to make these issues visible to scientists, practitioners, innovators, students, policymakers, corporations, and the public at large.

Beyond general visibility, our second objective is to foster a better understanding of the relationship between science and values by supporting and pursuing relevant research. This includes investigations by scientists that shed light on our values and culture, by philosophers, humanities scholars and social scientists on the nature of science and the role of values within it, and by ethicists and political theorists on the ethics and politics of science.

Built upon an infrastructure of a careful understanding of values and science, the third objective of the Center seeks to improve the relationship between science and values. Key to achieving this objective is connecting with the public, professionals, scientists and policymakers over a variety of issues. We want to help the public know how to balance their cultural and moral commitments relative to the improvements in their lives offered by science, technology, and medicine. We want to help medical professionals balance compassionate care with safe and efficacious treatment. We want to help scientists balance evidence with imagination, rigor with moral responsibility. We want to help policymakers learn how to integrate good science and democratic participation to promote the public good.

Never has the time been so ripe for undertaking this mission. Medical technologies are a more central part of our lives than they have ever been, and so much promise can be found in medical advances on the horizon.  At the same time, medical research is embroiled with controversy, from bias to irresponsibility to outright fraud, while medical practice is under severe economic strain, and has been accused of a lack of compassion. Science is increasingly necessary for policy-making, and indeed, scientific evidence and advice are more prominent in politics and policy-making than ever.  Consequently, there has been an explosion of partisan and distorted science-for-hire. Technologies that have raised our standards of living dramatically now threaten catastrophic environmental problems. Scientific discoveries challenge our ethical values, cultural practices, and religious beliefs. Our work and leisure, our public and family lives are constantly in flux due to the rapid pace of technological change.  Yet we must ask, are our lives changing in ways that we want?

These challenges touch us all, they are urgent, and the world cannot hope to address them without the help of science and technology. Nevertheless, science and technology on their own, without the influence of ethics, values, and culture, cannot fully resolve these problems. In bringing together medicine, science, and technology with philosophy, the humanities, and the arts, the Center for Values in Medicine, Science, and Technology provides leadership in recognizing, understanding and addressing societal problems and insipient limitations resulting from disconnects between values and science.

History

The Center for Values in Medicine, Science, and Technology was established in 2009 to help the students and faculty of The University of Texas at Dallas, as well as the surrounding community, to understand, evaluate, and support the improvement of the ethical and cultural influences on and implications of science and technology.

The cornerstone of the Center for Values’ outreach is a public lecture series that brings in leading scholars, authors, and related authorities to investigate topics at the intersection of technology and the humanities. In a cross-disciplinary approach to fostering public intellectualism, an international group of authors, artists, scientists, philosophers, theorists, and engineers engage a diverse audience in thinking about issues such as “Creativity in the Age of Technology” (2009 series), “Exploring Human Enhancement” (2010), "Funded and Forbidden Knowledge: Science, Politics and Cultural Values" (2011), and "The Heart of Medicine: Values and Ethics in Health Care" (2012). The speakers further play a role in our academic community by meeting with interested undergraduate and graduate students and with members of courses that are designed in conjunction with the series.