We work with specialists across different sectors — from nonprofits to industry to academic institutions — on short- and long-term engagements to discern ethically salient features of a pressing, complex problem in their work.

Our efforts contribute to a more complete understanding of the issues at play. With these insights, we collectively determine creative pathways forward and ideate for solutions.


Upcoming Engagements


Ethical Issues in the Use of Public Data

In Fall 2019, Ethics Lab is convening a group of experts in ethical theory and practice to consider the implications and opportunities within work done by Georgetown Research teams. The interdisciplinary group will be lead by the Ethics Lab team utilizing our unique methods to surface ethical issues and potential cautions/recommendations for sharing data across public and private sectors. A report of the workshop’s key recommendations for best practices will be passed on to the newly formed ADRF Network.

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Ethical Issues in Privacy Standards and Computing

Ethics Lab is working with researchers at Georgetown’s Law Center and its Computer Science Department who are working on defining privacy and data controls. These projects aim to establish pathways to assurance that online interactions are founded on consent, accountability, and mutual benefit.


Prior Engagements


Exploring representation, equality, and civic agency for Girls

The Smithsonian wanted to understand how teenage girls wish to see themselves reflected across its museums, as well as how they would be most interested in interacting with the topic of girlhood throughout the Smithsonian’s campus. We organized a dynamic workshop with the Hirshhorn Museum ARTLAB+ on the topic of girls' history, in preparation for a June 2020 exhibition, Girlhood: It's Complicated, at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. We facilitated a thought-provoking discussion about what metropolitan Washington, D.C., teens want to communicate about girlhood, and then led participating local teens in a "rapid design" exercise to develop a mobile interactive that will extend the Girlhood exhibition experience across the National Mall and online.


Understanding the Moral Implications of AI in International Development with the Inter-American Development Bank

As a development institution, the IDB provides best practices counsel along with its financial deals, and wants to improve its approach to the ethical concerns that arise in this emerging sector. We led a workshop with a team of IDB staff who work on technology- and data-related issues at the Department of the Social Sector and other relevant departments. Together, we discerned the morally salient features of proposed uses of AI as they intersect with the social and political issues in international development. This effort fostered deep reflection on the ethical ambiguity inherent in decision-making around technology, data, and AI.


Exploring Trade-Offs Between Privacy and Big Data with the Harvard University Privacy Tools Project

As tech companies make rapid developments in their ability to aggregate large databases of consumer data, existing tools for protecting peoples’ privacy begin to fail. In Fall 2018, we led a workshop with the Harvard University Privacy Tools Project, a group of computer scientists who tackle the challenging issue of how to preserve privacy in the era of Big Data. Through a series of dynamic exercises we explored the trade-offs between the informational utility of a large dataset and the Privacy Tools Project’s groundbreaking advances in privacy protection technology.