Over this autumn school term, members of our Education Advisory Group are sharing thoughts and ideas based on their own experience of how bioethics and debate can be useful in education contexts. This post is written by Andy Greenfield, Programme Leader in Developmental Genetics at the Medical Research Council Harwell, STEM Ambassador and Member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.
* Quote from Albert Einstein
Over recent years, in my capacity as a STEM ambassador, I have had the opportunity to visit some secondary schools to discuss biology and ethics with pupils in the age range of 14-18 years. Sometimes this combination of science and ethics has been an explicit request on the part of the school – such as when I was asked to contribute to a discussion on science and religion. On other occasions I have been asked to discuss some aspect of my own scientific research – such as the genetic control of embryonic development – but I have incorporated an element of bioethics because it seems to me that young people find the combination stimulating: it reminds them that what scientists do involves making choices, sometimes difficult ones. I believe that both science and ethics can become more interesting to the uninitiated when combined.
Some topics that I have addressed include old favourites, such as the manipulation of the human germ line to combat disease or the use of animals in scientific research. The Council’s own reports on mitochondria and animal research have been enormously helpful in framing subsequent discussions. However, I usually resort to a warm-up routine consisting of the now famous trolley-problems**.
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.