University of Massachusetts Amherst

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STS Initiative Receives $300k for Ethics Education in Science and Engineering

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a group of eight researchers, led by Professor Jane Fountain (political science and public policy), a $300,000 grant to create, implement and refine a series of international ethics modules for science and engineering students through the Science, Technology, and Society Initiative.

The group represents six academic departments from four colleges: Paula Stamps (community health studies); MJ Peterson (political science); Marc Achermann (physics); Beverly Park Woolf (computer science); Neal Anderson (electrical and computer engineering); John Hird (political science and public policy), and Peter Haas (political science). The project will work in partnership with researchers from the University of New Mexico and Northeastern University.

The researchers will create a total of nine ethics modules, with half focusing on the impact of globalization on the work practices of scientists and engineers and the other half on the impact of international-level regulatory processes on national regulations. These modules will be introduced into science and engineering courses in order to fill a gap in the formal ethics education of science and engineering students and to create a better understanding of ethics in an increasingly international and globalized discipline. The modules will eventually be accessible online so that their content may be used in courses globally.

This project is based in the Science, Technology and Society Initiative (STS), a priority area of
the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and based at the Center for Public Policy and
Administration. Fountain, the director of the STS Initiative, says, “The kind of interdisciplinary work this grant represents is typical of the STS Initiative. STS strives to bring seemingly disparate parts of this campus together around the common themes of science and technology. We look at how new technologies affect society and how the public is reacting to them.” In addition to ethics education, the STS Initiative also encompasses research on nanotechnology, underrepresentation in sciences, and information technology and society. More information about the STS Initiative is available at

September 17, 2007