This week, the 9th grade class of Episcopal Collegiate School in Little Rock, AR, visited Washington D.C. for a trip focused on science and technology. Ethics Lab was honored to host them for a half-day of collaborative sessions on design-facilitated bioethics. Two specific topics were chosen as focal activities for the day: Empathy Mapping and Persona Building.

As always, we are immensely proud to expose new students to critical inquiry, design and problem solving in the study of bioethics and the work we do with in the Lab. Stay up to date on what’s happening in the Lab by following us on Twitter!

Participants in this year’s 42nd annual Intensive Bioethics Course at Georgetown were invited to sign up for a post-session dedicated to issues in research ethics.

Designed for clinical researchers and others whose work brings them face-to-face with moral issues in gathering medical research, and facilitated by lab designers, the full-day workshop used design-based inquiry to explore problem contexts and scenarios drawn from real cases. Participants used empathy maps to articulate issues in informed consent, unpacked some key issues in research ethics like the therapeutic misconception and research on complex populations, designed sample recommendations for US Human Health and Services regarding the Safe Mothers and Babies Act task force, and finished the day with some famous local cupcakes.

Check out our Twitter feed for a record of live event coverage!

One of the student projects we’re most excited about comes from Caitlin Cleary, Andrew Green, Noah Martin, and Caitlin Tompkins. The team began their work in 2015’s Science & Society: Global Challenges course. Since last fall, the team has developed The Invasive Hitlist — a series of field guides designed to create a culture of eco-positive recreation that benefits the ecosystem, rather than harming it; the first entry in the series centered on designing an innovative response to combat the growing population of invasive Northern Snakehead in the rivers surrounding Washington D.C. The booklet addresses the global challenge of invasive species, with the goal of inspiring local action and raising awareness. Their second entry in the series The Invasive Hitlist: Origins, is forthcoming following beta testing.

The team’s hard work paid off this year, earning them a commendation in the Undergraduate Bioethics Showcase. The series has also been a hit in several external communities, with demonstrated interest in the product as an educational and informational tool from both the Bureau of Land Management and the Fisheries for Veteran’s Project. The student team has leveraged their talents to make early deals with both organizations–gaining access to contributing researchers, a critical mass of species information, and potential bulk product orders, all while maintaining creative control of the product design and development.

All of the books produced to date have been produced by hand entirely in Ethics Lab. We plan to continue mentorship and support of the Hitlist project while developing more concrete plans to guide the final stages of incubation for Lab-developed projects.

Learn more on the Invasive Hitlist website »

It’s that time of year…

Sweaty palms. Uncontrollable jitters. A heretofore never experienced kind of stress.

What has students so worked up, you ask?

It’s crit season.

Crits are essential to the practice of studio. Through crits, students publicly present their work, defend their design choices, consider new perspectives, and sometimes, admit that they failed. But failing fast and failing publicly is a key aspect of studio method, so it isn’t a bad thing… But more on that later. Crits allow students to actively engage in conversations—and sometimes, arguments—with jurors (professors, comic book store managers, NIH scientists, President DeGioia… the list goes on!) about the many facets of their product. Whatever it may be.

We are so excited to be partnering with the Ethics Institute at Kent Place Schools in Summit, NJ, on a new program for high school students and educators called Ethics in Action.

Selected high schools will send teams of students and teachers first to Kent Place, for a four-day summer immersion internship, and later to Georgetown, for a two-day intensive session in the lab. These students will learn, work and become Design Fellows, ready to engage in solutions to actual challenges faced in their respective school communities around the issue of food.

Read more »

“Thinking outside your brain.”

It’s a familiar phrase for students working in studio, but allow us to provide some context.

A key piece of effectively creating in studio is collaboration.

But how can students, faculty, and content experts collaborate when the subject of collaboration—an idea, a concept, a thought—is contained inside our brains?

Enter: model-making.

A fundamental design tool, model-making might sound like an obvious endeavor for architects, who create prototype after prototype of their work before breaking ground.

And the work of collaborative creation in studio requires a similar process.

In EthicsLab, the tables are covered with yards of butcher paper, and the cabinets are stocked with everything from wire and clay to chipboard and plastic figurines—lions, tigers, and broccoli, oh my!

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Fully equipped with a variety of model-making tools and supplies, students are able to “think outside their brains” as they sketch their ideas, create prototypes, and collaborate with one another, critiquing and adding to their peers’ creations.

By making models in real time, as their ideas develop, students are able to create in collaboration with one another.

You know you’re meeting with the EthicsLab team if the walls are covered in Post-It Notes and the tables are lined with rolls of paper!

On May 28th, 2014, nearly forty high-schoolers from Kent Place School visited EthicsLab. In just two hours teams conceived, designed, and produced seven short videos on a range of bioethics topics aimed at specific audiences. Check out this incredible student video on autonomy!

Mapping the landscape of pregnancy and preeclampsia with external project partners. Play-Doh is for more than just kids!