Graduate Student Leadership in Ethics Education – AAA 2018

Roundtable on Graduate Student Leadership in Ethics Education at 2018 Annual Meeting

Organized by Lise Dobrin and Chad Morris, AAA MPAAC Ethics Seats

5-0445 – Saturday, 10:15-12:00

Educating graduate students in ethics is too often approached as if the task consists of transferring to novices the rules and principles of ethical behavior, as opposed to socializing them into habits of reflection and cultivating their sensitivity to the competing, often mutually contradictory needs and interests of multiple stakeholders. The former orientation makes it seem reasonable to approach ethics education as “training” via short, discrete, conveniently auditable online modules that are too often perfunctorily completed and then forgotten. Furthermore, in anthropology and other fieldwork-based disciplines, ethics education tends to focus disproportionately on the treatment of fieldwork participants, even though professional practice here, as in all disciplines, presents ethical challenges across a range of areas, such as data sharing, management, and ownership; authorship, peer review, and other matters related to publishing; adviser-student relations; and colleagueship. Unfortunately, recent Federal policy initiatives to promote student learning of “responsible conduct of research” in this broader sense have had little influence on instructional practice (see Phillips et al. 2017).

That is why we are organizing a roundtable at this year’s annual meeting that explores new possibilities for how ethics education in anthropology and related disciplines can be structured. The roundtable brings together faculty and students from a three-field anthropology department (U Virginia) and a linguistics department with strength in sociocultural linguistics (UC Santa Barbara) to describe and appraise models of department-based ethics education that give students an active role in designing, planning, and implementing the curriculum and approach. In each case, the goal is to create an environment in which ethics education is rich, explicit, engaging, and integrated into the overall life of the local academic community. UVa Anthropology has been experimenting with a primarily student-led workshop series on topics in fieldwork, ethics, and ethnographic writing that runs parallel to the department speaker series. At UCSB, student-led research and initiatives are prompting ethics discussions across the curriculum as well as in other departmental forums such as colloquia and student-led conferences. The roundtable chairs will begin the session by sharing the histories of these experimental programs. Following this, students from each institution will speak about their experiences designing and running their respective programs. Finally, the discussant will comment and open the floor to discussion about how the next generation of scholars and practitioners can best be prepared to integrate ethics into all aspects of the work that they do.

Phillips, Trisha, Franchesca Nestor, Gillian Beach, and Elizabeth Heitman. 2018. America COMPETES at 5 Years: An Analysis of Research-Intensive Universities’ RCR Training Plans. Science and Engineering Ethics 24:227-249.

Session Chairs: Lise Dobrin and Mary Bucholtz

Presenters: Grace East, Alexia Fawcett, Julia Fine, Erin Jordan, and Greg Sollish

Discussant: Dena Plemmons

Article written by Lise Dobrin