Emory Report
September 28, 2009
Volume 62, Number 5


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September 28, 2009
Ethics in scholarly training focus for graduate students

By Ulf Nilsson

In January 2009, the James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies was one of five institutions to receive a grant from the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS). These grants are intended to advance the scope and quality of graduate education in professional research ethics, including the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR). Emory’s project will develop an RCR program that centers on process-oriented training in research ethics and builds contexts in which ethical dilemmas can be candidly discussed.

“One of the challenges in graduate education is to prepare students with the skills in ethical reasoning to deal with never-before-encountered situations,” says Dean Lisa Tedesco. “Our program will seek to harness the critical thinking and analysis skills that they use every day in their research to engage more deeply into research ethics and the responsible conduct of research.”

To begin the conversation, the Laney Graduate School will host a series of lectures, workshops and panels under the title “Beyond Right & Wrong: Engaging Ethics at Emory.” The series will be inaugurated by C. Kristina Gunsalus of University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, a speaker well-known for her lively presentations on professional ethics within the academy on Oct. 7. In November, a panel discussion on scholarly misconduct will feature Nicholas Steneck of University of Michigan.

The series will continue through spring semester, with speakers and panels on a wide range of topics, such as mentorship, consent in cross-cultural contexts, treatment of animals in research, and the social responsibilities of researchers.

This project aims to develop a comprehensive program sensitive to the needs of graduate students across the University. A survey will identify the important areas of professional responsibility as seen by students, faculty and staff. The graduate school has also begun to identify the professional ethics training opportunities presently available at Emory.

“Graduate students and faculty need to be involved in this process” says Mark Risjord, associate dean of the graduate school. “The program needs to reflect their concerns about scholarly integrity and RCR.” As part of the CGS grant, the graduate school has support available for faculty and graduate students who would like to host speakers or hold workshops in areas of special interest, as well as for those who are developing courses or course components that integrate ethics into the graduate curriculum.

“Ethics in scholarly training is expected to be a standard professional requirement nationally. With this grant from the Council of Graduate Schools, Emory has been selected to take a lead,” notes project co-director Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Anthropology Michelle Lampl.

Several town hall meetings will provide graduate students and faculty the opportunity to discuss the ultimate shape of such requirements at Emory. The first town hall meetings will be held Oct. 20, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. in Rita Ann Rollins Room, 8th floor, and again Oct. 21, 3:30 – 5 p.m. in Winship Ballroom.