Ethics Lab Expands Its Printing Capabilities

This semester Ethics Lab has made investments in new printing equipment to support the growing array of projects under incubation. All of the printing we do requires pre-production and finishing. Cutting, trimming, scoring, folding, binding, gluing, punching, laminating, coating, etc. On top of this, we do a lot of paper craft outside of printing—bindery, packaging design and construction, prototyping, modeling, and more. We had some professional tools and equipment for this, but with these additional purchases, we are now close to a professional print shop setup, which is saving a huge amount of faculty and student time and energy. We focused our expansion on four areas detailed below:

1. Inkjet printing setup.
Key purchase: Epson SureColor P800 Inkjet Printer
Features: borderless printing on a variety of media up to 17″ wide; ability to print using a roll for long posters; flat print path allows for printing on thick media

2. Laser printing setup.
Key purchase: OKI C931e
Features: ability to print in bulk on a variety of media (e.g. waterproof paper) and in a variety of sizes at a much lower ink-to-copy cost than was previously available

3. Printing pre-production and finishing.
Key purchase: Triumph 4305 Manual Paper Cutter
Features: professional grade paper trimming with capacity to cut up to 250 sheets simultaneously and with extreme precision

4. Paper and media storage.
Key purchase: lots and lots of Really Useful Boxes
Features: easily stacked and stored on our wire shelving; heavy duty plastic holds heavy paper stock; multiple sizes mean our plethora of supplies each has a right-sized home

Georgetown University professor and Ethics Lab partner Francis Slakey and his students shared their experiences in a multidisciplinary, project-based course that has real impact on the world outside of the classroom.

The course, Shaping National Science Policy, was co-taught by Prof. Slakey and David Goldston in Ethics Lab this spring for the second consecutive year. The video above captures scenes and interviews from last year’s studio collaborative and other past Science in the Public Interest students.

Students were asked to identify a social issue–teams from last year’s class ranged from studying the effects of pesticides on Argentinean agricultural workers to rethinking menstrual hygiene management in India–then guided by faculty mentors and external experts to develop a strategy for a fundable solution.

To help realize their projects, students then met with outside funders like Proctor and Gamble, Coca-Cola, and the Peace Corps in an effort to advance one of the key pedagogical innovations offered by Ethics Lab’s studio-based classes: students getting hands-on experience making authentic progress on complex global problems.

Thanks to the Red House for producing this video as part of the larger Designing the Future(s) of the University initiative.

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.

“Studio is where students learn to create and create to learn.”

Arjun Dhillon, head of design at EthicsLab

Studio. It’s a messy place.

Need proof?

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But the mess, in part, signifies “the squiggle”, a simple metaphor for the process of creation.


squiggle - arjun newest


See that big squiggle, there on the left? That represents the ideation part of the creation process. Notice that the single line goes in every direction, “forward” and “backward” and “up” and “down”, depending on your perspective. When students work in the big squiggle, they are thinking aspirationally, often operating within the constraints of a prompt, for example, “What would the world look like if the supply of organs through post-mortem donation actually met the high demand?” or “What would the world look like if pregnant women could be treated safely for pre-existing conditions (e.g. depression or breast cancer) during their pregnancy?”.

In the big squiggle, students are exploring, researching, creating ideas that span the gamut of possibilities. Which is quite the gamut, because students working in studio see the world as malleable, as always changing—changes they can drive through creation.

The second phase of design work, or the “little squiggle” as we like to call it, follows the students’ time spent in the big squiggle. but we’ll get to that later.

For now… it’s time to be messy.

“There is no place for students to learn systematic creativity – but the university is a great foundation to start that.”

Arjun Dhillon, head of design at EthicsLab

“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.

What is the Studio Collaborative?

Stellar question.

We’ve brought together students from a Bioethics course, a Shaping National Science Policy course, and a Rhetoric course to work with one another, drawing from the knowledge gained through their specific class work and lectures, to create something of value to the world. Students are focusing on topics ranging from organ donation to antibiotic resistance, creating comic books and videos and art galleries.

We see the Collaborative as an especially unique educational opportunity for students, learning through their classes and through their work with one another. Through collaboration in studio, students grow in their understanding of ethical complexity, wrestling with some of the most fundamental questions of human existence; students acquire a greater knowledge of civic engagement, exploring avenues of creating social change; and students develop their mastery of rhetoric and communication, learning that the impact of creation rests in their ability to convey its value in words.

Here’s the way we see it – we have the power, through EthicsLab, to prepare students to be real, live, effective change agents. Students who can go out into the world and make a moral difference that actually matters. That actually sticks.

Students are tackling some of our society’s most pressing social injustices and ethical quandaries. Their work in studio is in service to others — they just happen to be engaging their own education through their desire to change the world.

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!