An undergrad course: Ethics in Chemistry

In summary, the conversation discussed the creation of an undergraduate course on ethics in science with a focus on chemistry. Suggestions for material and books were requested, with recommendations including Henry Bauer's writings on science, the scientific method, and ethics, as well as Daniel Kevles' "The Baltimore Case" for a historical account of a science ethics case. Other suggestions included "Scientific Integrity: An Introductory Text with Cases" by Francis Macrina, which covers standard issues and real-life aspects of research, and the mention of a more philosophical and theoretical book. The conversation concluded with the promise to post any additional suggestions that may come to mind.
  • #1
Entropia
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I am constructing an undergraduate course that deals with ethics in science, particularly in the field of chemistry.

Does anybody have any suggestions on material I should cover, and any good books that are thought provoking enough that ought to be used?
 
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  • #2
You may want to take a look at the books Henry Bauer (prof. emeritus of chemistry and science studies at Virginia Tech) has written, as they touch upon some realistic perspectives on science, the scientific method, and ethics in science. He has a site on Ethics in Science here:

http://www.chem.vt.edu/ethics/ethics.html

If you're looking for a well done historical account of a rather recent science ethics case, I'd suggest The Baltimore Case by Daniel Kevles, it should be out in paperback as I recall.

As a number of biomedical graduate education programs have ethics requirements in order to maintain NIH funding, there are a couple of more bio/biomedically oriented ethics books out there. The book I remember being used at my undergrad alma mater was Scientific Integrity: An Introductory Text with Cases by Francis Macrina. While only having skimmed through it, it seemed to touch upon the standard issues and was well grounded in real life aspects of research. If you're looking for something that is much more theoretical in nature and philosophically oriented, not sure off the top of my head.

If I can remember anything else, I'll post it as it comes to me.
 
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  • #3
Firstly, it is essential to cover the fundamental principles of ethics and how they apply to the scientific community. This can include topics such as integrity, objectivity, and responsibility in research and the potential consequences of unethical behavior.

Another important aspect to cover would be the ethical considerations in the use of chemicals and their impact on the environment and human health. This could involve discussing the responsibilities of chemists in ensuring the safe and responsible use of chemicals, as well as examining case studies of past incidents where ethical lapses have resulted in harm to individuals and the environment.

Additionally, it would be beneficial to explore the ethical dilemmas that chemists may face in their work, such as conflicts of interest, data manipulation, and issues of intellectual property. This can help students develop critical thinking skills and ethical decision-making abilities.

When it comes to thought-provoking books, a few recommendations could include "The Ethics of Science" by David B. Resnik, which delves into the ethical considerations in scientific research, and "The Poisoner's Handbook" by Deborah Blum, which explores the history of forensic chemistry and its ethical implications.

Overall, the course should aim to foster a deeper understanding of the ethical responsibilities of chemists and the impact of their work on society. It should also encourage students to critically reflect on their own ethical values and how they can apply them in their future careers in chemistry.
 

1. What is the purpose of an undergrad course in Ethics in Chemistry?

An undergrad course in Ethics in Chemistry is designed to introduce students to the ethical issues that arise in the field of chemistry and to develop their understanding of ethical principles and decision-making processes. It aims to promote responsible and ethical conduct in scientific research and practice.

2. What topics are typically covered in an undergrad course in Ethics in Chemistry?

The topics covered in an undergrad course in Ethics in Chemistry may include scientific misconduct, plagiarism, conflicts of interest, safety in the laboratory, animal testing, environmental impact of chemicals, and ethical considerations in research involving human subjects.

3. How does an undergrad course in Ethics in Chemistry benefit students?

Studying ethics in chemistry can help students develop critical thinking skills, ethical reasoning, and moral judgment. It also prepares them to navigate ethical dilemmas that may arise in their future careers as chemists. Furthermore, understanding ethical principles can help students become more responsible and ethical scientists.

4. Are there any real-world examples of ethical issues in chemistry?

Yes, there are many real-world examples of ethical issues in chemistry, such as the use of chemical weapons, the manufacture and disposal of hazardous chemicals, and the impact of pharmaceutical drugs on human health and the environment. Additionally, there have been cases of scientific misconduct and ethical violations in research studies.

5. How can an undergrad course in Ethics in Chemistry be applied in the real world?

An undergrad course in Ethics in Chemistry can be applied in the real world by providing students with the knowledge and skills to identify and analyze ethical issues, make responsible decisions, and communicate ethically about their work. This can benefit chemists working in research and development, manufacturing, environmental consulting, and other areas where ethical considerations are important.

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