ethics lab

Kennedy Institute of Ethics

Georgetown University

ethics, done differently.

Ethics Lab is a hub for creative ethics learning at Georgetown and beyond.

The lab’s method unites the creativity of designers, the wisdom of ethicists, the expertise of faculty experts and real-world partners, and the idealism of Georgetown students to tackle some of the messiest moral issues of our time.

The lab’s work includes flagship project-based ethics courses at Georgetown, outreach and consulting aimed at transforming ethics learning in classes all across campus, and workshops and products designed to help educators from the secondary to graduate level bring Ethics Lab’s hands-on approach to ethics into their own classrooms.

Flagship Courses

Ethics Lab partners with faculty across campus to co-design flagship project-based ethics courses that take advantage of the lab’s space, materials, mentorship and network of experts.

This semester, a donor-supported course on data ethics draws faculty from the Kennedy Institute of Ethics as well as Judd Nicholson, Georgetown University’s CIO, to explore the rapidly-changing landscape of data and big data (next iteration: Fall 2017). Up next, a donor-supported course on the ethics of social media will draw faculty and partners from across the university (Fall 2017). Flagship courses are designed and run with the explicit goal of developing exportable curricular structures for future use in other courses across campus.

Workshops, Modules, and Outreach

Ethics Lab works to infuse ethics into existing courses and curricula at Georgetown: hosting workshops or modules that are part of a larger course, and by sharing tools or methods from our growing library of creative pedagogies.

Examples include a day-long workshop for clinical researchers and health care professionals offered as part of an intensive summer course in bioethics at Georgetown (2015, 2016), and a new partnership with Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies (SCS), whose Dean has engaged the Kennedy Institute of Ethics to consult on the required ethics courses for a variety of its Masters of Professional Studies degrees. The Institute will facilitate a collaborative engagement (three meetings planned) with faculty and program directors, using techniques developed in Ethics Lab to elicit information on the current curriculum and to facilitate conversation on how to enhance SCS ethics offerings.

Educating Educators

Ethics Lab’s mandate is not just to experiment, but to share what works. The lab has run professional development sessions aimed at educators from the middle school to undergraduate level, with new initiatives under development.

This semester drew a group of high school educators from the Washington, DC area for a pilot event on the ethics of enhancement (January); another on the same topic will be a hybrid of online and face-to-face learning (March). This summer, an intensive session aimed at clinicians, researchers, lawyers, and other health care professionals is in the works.

Educational Toolkits

Ethics Lab is developing ways to take its methods even farther afield, in self-contained educational toolkits designed for middle, high school, and undergraduate students.

Currently in development: A kit that uses the design tool of empathy mapping to help learners engage with the ethics of informed consent, and another that uses the design tool of persona building to explore the ethics of enhancement. Both kits are in pre-market testing; with the empathy-mapping kit being readied for a soft launch in Spring 2017.

Courses for the Common Good

Ethics Lab hosts, in addition to its own courses and workshops, selected Georgetown classes whose project-based methods benefit from the lab’s space and resources, and whose efforts to design for the common good align with its overall mission.

In the lab this semester are courses on social innovation in India and on designing the future(s) of the university. Semesters past have included courses on national science policy, global challenges, and rhetoric as a tool for social change.

Learn more

Want to learn more?

Keep up to date with what’s happening in Ethics Lab, including new opportunities to get involved, by following the lab blog and press coverage. Visit the lab space in Healy Hall, reach out by email, sign up for the mailing list, or follow Ethics Lab on social media: stay connected.