KIE and Ethics Lab Selected to Present at SXSW EDU 2018

The KIE and Ethics Lab were selected to present at next year’s SXSW EDU conference. The conference, taking place in Austin, Texas March 5-8, aims to promote innovation in learning by hosting a community of forward-thinking stakeholders with a shared goal of impacting the future of teaching and learning.

The KIE’s workshop, titled Design Tools for Creative Ethics Education, seeks to use tools from design and ethical theory to introduce participants to a set of activities designed to develop students’ moral imagination and creative confidence. The session will use tools honed and implemented in Ethics Lab and make them accessible to all educators. Elizabeth EdenbergJonathan Healey, and Nico Staple will present on behalf of the KIE and Ethics Lab next spring.

This year’s conference includes four days of educational sessions, in-depth workshops, mentorship, film screenings, startup events, and policy discussions. SXSW EDU is a component of the South by Southwest (SXSW) group of conferences and festivals. SXSW is an internationally recognized series of events known for gathering creative professionals for various seminars, discussions, and workshops.

The selection process is competitive. After submitting a proposal for a workshop, SXSW EDU uses a two-step, digital crowd-sourced platform called PanelPicker to select the year’s panelists and speakers. More than 1,400 proposals were submitted this year, with only 220 sessions making the final cut, including the KIE. The SXSW EDU Advisory Board, staff, and the greater community review all submitted proposals and select the final set of speakers and workshops for the event.

“You don’t come to Ethics Lab to take a class. You come to change the world.”

Former student and all-around rockstar Nandini Mullaji addresses the Georgetown community about Ethics Lab at Think BIG, a TED-style student speaker event.

Friend of the lab Matt Pavesich, Associate Teaching Professor in English and Associate Director of the Writing Program here at Georgetown, is offering a new course this spring that builds on the project-based studio pedagogy employed in previous flagship Ethics Lab courses:

This class is an experiment. We’re going to test a new kind of class at Georgetown — a class in which the students, you, will receive course credit for working on a project that you’ve dreamed up, that you’d like to work on if you had time, but sadly will have to leave forgotten on the shelf because you’re at Georgetown — you don’t have the time.

After an introductory unit, intended for us to create a shared ethos and group dynamic, each of you will pursue your own individual communication and design projects. Our meetings will have a common thread — a little reading about communication design in the 21st Century and discussion — but most of our shared studio time will consist of working alongside each other, bouncing ideas around, conducting critiques (“crits”) of our work, and making substantial progress on a project personally important to you.

We will consist of two subgroups, the 305s and the 105s. 305s are students, sophomores and above, who have already worked in one of Georgetown’s studio-ish courses: University as a Design Problem, the Studio Collaborative, Introduction to Design, and so on. 305s will begin the semester with a working proposal and/or prototype of a project, and their semester’s work will be to take it to completion. They will also serve as mentors to the 105s.

105s are interested in design work and its methods, as well as communication generally. They have not taken part in the curricular experiences that 305s have; this will be their first studio class. They will likely not yet have a proposal for a project; their semester’s work will be to conceive of a communication design project, to research it thoroughly, to write an extended proposal for its completion, and to create a rough but working prototype.

Admission to the class will be based on your application: please email Prof. Matthew Pavesich with a brief statement of the project you would like to pursue this semester (approx. 300 words). This project may be one you have begun in a prior class or another forum, or it may a project you have not yet begun. Please also indicate whether you’ve participated in any of Georgetown’s design or studio-related courses or projects (the Red House, the Studio Collaborative, a UNXP course, etc.). Design experience is not required for admission.

Fall 2016 Course Offerings

Interested in designing for the common good? Want to create a new model of learning in higher education? Here are some courses lined up this fall at Ethics Lab:

IDST-308 Foundations of Design · Arjun Dhillon: This studio-based course provides a foundation of design theory and practice that will help equip students to flourish in the emerging landscape. Students will build competency in a transdisciplinary practice of design, and they will begin to develop the dispositions, habits, modes of thinking, and ways of seeing necessary to routinely shape the world.

IDST-425 University as a Design Problem II · Arjun Dhillon + Randall Bass: This course will take on the design of a new model of learning in higher education. Using Georgetown University as our site for design and prototyping, students will pursue institutional change with a sense of urgency for the state of the world. This will be more than just an exercise; efforts here will inform the development of a new curricular program at Georgetown, and all students will be expected to contribute.

PHYS-203/PHYS-551/BIOL-261/BIOL-561: Science & Society: Global Challenges · Francis Slakey + Allyson Anderson: This seminar introduces students to some of the most significant and complex science and public interest challenges of our time including: managing a global pandemic, reducing carbon emissions, meeting growing global energy demand, and containing weapons of mass destruction.

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!

Ethics Lab founding member interviewed for Free Range Philosophers

This week, founding lab team member Kelly Heuer was interviewed by the Free Range Philosophers project. She discusses her transition from postdoc to permanent position at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, talks about her academic experience and her previous work as a freelance designer, and explains how her current position allows her to combine both of her passions as a philosopher-designer.

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.

This week, Ethics Lab hosted mid-term crits for Professor Slakey and Professor Pavesich’s studio collaborative. Students from Shaping National Science Policy (Slakey) and Introduction to Rhetoric (Pavesich) were asked to pursue legislative and non-legislative routes to affecting some change in the science and public policy space.

Teams will likely iterate and evolve from their current project states, but here are high-level summaries showing the range of their work:

  • Team A: increased funding for young science researchers
  • Team B: increasing the number of minority participants in clinical research
  • Team C: guidance and legislation to improve treatment and recovery of concussion victims
  • Team D: a new approach to reducing opioid prescription drug abuse and overdose that equips those likely to be with at-risk patients with the education, skills, and medication they need to provide life-saving care if an overdose occurs
  • Team E: better, more equitable treatment of transgender people in healthcare
  • Team F: a shadowing program for pre-med students from low income backgrounds
  • Team G: labeling for GMO foods highlighting the positive aspects of this technological advance
  • Team H: proposed legislation to grade foods by their sugar quantity in an effort to get people to eat healthier

EthicsLab: The Year in Review

Despite our infancy – especially in comparison to the rest of the centuries-old giant that is Healy Hall – we have just wrapped up quite an impressive academic year. The studio was rarely empty (even at four in the morning!), the tunes were always jamming (…perhaps to others’ dismay, even at four in the morning), and the creative juices never stopped flowing (except maybe a little at four in the morning – creation is tiring work!).

In the fall of 2014, Maggie Little and Arjun Dhillon co-taught an Introductory Bioethics course, merging philosophy and design through ethically complex design projects centered around issues of autonomy, informed consent, personal genomics, and other intriguing bioethical prompts.

In the spring of 2015, Matt Pavesich, Maggie Little, and Francis Slakey taught courses in Rhetoric, Bioethics, and Science Policy, respectively, within the framework of a studio collaborative model directed by Arjun Dhillon. Students worked in cohorts comprised of class members from each of the three academic disciplines, forming truly dynamic teams with varied skills, knowledge, and experiences to create products addressing everything from plastic water bottle overconsumption to the shortage of organs available for donation.

In the spring of 2015, Randy Bass taught a course entitled, “The University as a Design Problem” in Ethics Lab, where students developed new and innovative models of what higher education might look like as our global assets and needs continue to rapidly evolve.

In the summer of 2015, Hailey Huget’s class on Moral Status incorporated elements of design as students worked in studio to develop board games that engaged players on a variety of complex and nuanced ethical dilemmas, balancing their own moral compass with the strategies and incentives of the created game.

Throughout the academic year, Ethics Lab has hosted a variety of esteemed guests, visiting the studio as project partners or vision holders, collaborators, guest lecturers, and jurors.

Our space has continued to grow and evolve as we add books and resources and modeling supplies and even a soldering iron – you should see our purchasing orders! Ethics Lab is making a splash as a design hub on Georgetown University’s campus as we encourage students, faculty, and external collaborators alike to use the space for their creation work.