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Ethics center director to lecture on ethics and responsible research


Vivian Weil, the director of the Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions at the Illinois Institute of Technology, will present a free, public lecture on engineering ethics and responsible research at 7 p.m. Thursday, in Stocker Center 103.

The former director of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Ethics and Values Studies Program, Weil will speak on "Ethics and Values Challenges in the Everyday Practice of Science."

Weil will discuss responsible conduct of research and scientific research responsibility within the engineering discipline. She believes that the question of scientists' responsibility to the wider society, though daunting, can't be ignored. She will share how the ordinary practice of science is surprisingly different from the picture of science one gets from textbooks and even from scientific reports in science journals. Attention to how investigation and validation of research actually proceed shows how ethical quandaries arise in the course of research. Weil will show that examining actual quandaries opens a window on what is at stake and indicates how to devise responsible solutions that are practical.

Weil will also lead an ethics workshop from 2:10 to 3 p.m. Friday, in Stocker Center 103. The workshop will help prepare those who teach science and engineering on how to include ethics in their ordinary courses. Refreshments will be served at both events.
 
A trained philosopher, Weil concentrates on issues of ethics and social responsibility in engineering and science. She has focused on emerging technologies, most recently on nanotechnology, and is currently directing an NSF-funded project that has created
NanoEthicsBank.

Weil's newest project is an innovative graduate course for engineering, science, and philosophy of science students to engage in joint research and consider ethical issues that arise in the natural course of research.

A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Weil has authored a number of publications, including articles on engineering ethics and scientific research ethics in the Encyclopedia of Philosophy. She is a member of the Advisory Board for the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network and a charter member of the Executive Committee of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics. She serves on various nationally recognized editorial boards, such as the Board of Science and Engineering Ethics, NanoEthics, and Science Communication.

The lecture and workshops are sponsored by the Institute for Applied and Professional Ethics, the Office of the Vice President for Research, and the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology.