Workshop on Empirical Approaches to Ethics and Values in Science and Engineering

Apr 10, 2015 by Matthew J. Brown

Empirical Approaches to
Ethics and Values in Science and Engineering

Pre-Conference Workshop for the 
Values in Medicine, Science, and Technology Conference 2015

May 19, 2015 in Dallas, TX

Workshop Objectives

  • To share empirical approaches to understanding or improving the role of ethics and values in scientific and engineering practice with other groups and workshop attendees.

  • To compare the various approaches as to relative merits and drawbacks and to explore possible areas of synthesis, with an eye towards improving future projects.

  • To providing practical starting points for attendees who would like to start new projects.

Workshop Format

This will be a half-day workshop focused on empirical approaches to ethics and values in science and engineering. Each group will have a session to present their approach, with time for discussion or hands-on activities (see Recommendations below). The last session will be a synthetic discussion, which might include comparative evaluations of the approaches, possibilities for combining and integrating approaches, and future projects. We will wrap with a workshop dinner.


  • Toolbox Project

    • Presenter: Chad Gonnerman (Southern Indiana)

    • PIs: Michael O’Rourke (Michigan State), Sanford Eigenbrode (Idaho) Stephen Crowley (Boise State).

    • Aims to improve communication and collaboration with interdisciplinary teams, gathering data about scientists’ views of values and ethics in science.

  • Socio-Technical Integration Research (STIR)

    • Presenter: Shannon Conley (James Madison)

    • PIs: Erik Fisher & David Guston (Arizona State)

    • Laboratory engagement studies that embed scholars from social science and humanities to encourage researchers to think about the social and ethical concerns that arise in the midst of their research.

  • Field Philosophy

  • Cognitive Ethnography of Engineering Ethics

    • PIs: Matthew J. Brown, Nicholas Gans, Magdalena Grohman (UT Dallas)

    • Research Assistant and Co-Presenter: Eun Ah Lee (UT Dallas)

    • Studies ethical decision making in engineering research teams with the aim of improving engineering education and practice, relying on frameworks of distributed and situated cognition and applying methods of cognitive ethnography


12 Noon-12:40pm: Lunch and introductions
12:40-1:20: Toolbox Project Presentation
1:30-2:10: STIR Presentation
2:15-2:45: General Discusson
2:50-3:30: Field Philosophy Presentation
3:40-4:20: Cognitive Ethnography Presentation
4:30-5:30: General Discussion
5:45-7:30: Dinner and Discussion of Future Projects

Recommendations for Presenters

  • Focus on concrete examples in the context of the overall goals and methods of the approach.

  • Rather than emphasizing results, emphasize frameworks and methods and their benefits and drawbacks.

  • As part of your presentation, show some example data, walk through an example analysis, or engage in an interactive, hands-on activity that gives participants some practical sense of your methods.