Bioethics Blogs

Symposium: Field Research and US Institutional Review Board Policy

This month the Political Science Department, University of Utah, will host a symposium entitled, “Field Research and US Institutional Review Board Policy.” Sponsored by the Betty Glad Memorial Fund, the symposium will take place March 20 [8:45 am – 5:30 pm] and March 21 [9:00 am – 3:30 pm].

The description follows:

US Institutional Review Board (IRB) policy with respect to human subjects was created to protect human participants from harms caused by research. It institutionalizes three ethical principles: respect for persons, beneficence (do no harm), and a just distribution of the benefits and burdens of research. The federal policy has been shaped in light of research following an experimental design, a model that often does not fit the exigencies of field research. This symposium is intended to explore the ethical dimensions of social scientific field research, including those not envisioned in the federal policy.

Symposium Co-Directors
Peregrine Schwartz-Shea, Department of Political Science, University of Utah (
Dvora Yanow, Wageningen [NL] and Keele [UK] Universities (

Keynote speaker: Dr. Zachary Schrag, History and Art History, George Mason University

“‘The Freedoms We Are Committed to Protect’: Political Science, Academic Freedom, and Institutional Review Boards in Historical Perspective”

Historian Zachary Schrag is one of the leading scholars exploring US institutional review board policy with regard to the social sciences. Author of Ethical Imperialism: Institutional Review Boards and the Social Sciences, 1965-2009 (2010), he has maintained a blog on the topic since 2006:

The lead title of his keynote address, “The Freedoms We Are Committed to Protect,” is a line from Ithiel de Sola Pool, a political scientist and founder of MIT’s political science department, who played a key role in the history of IRB policy.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.