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Graduate Ethics

Research Ethics Course: Summer 2015

The Center for Ethics in Society is pleased to offer a Stanford Graduate Summer Institute (SGSI) course for summer 2015.

Ethics & Research:
Practices, Problems, and Principles
September 8-11, 2015

The course explores questions such as: What are the boundaries between academic research and private industry? Should scholars advocate policy change through research? When researchers partner with communities, who has rights to interpret findings, own data, and authorize publication? What ethical challenges arise when conducting research on children or other vulnerable populations?

The course delves into ethical issues in research across disciplines and methodologies. Jorah Dannenberg (Philosophy) and Anne Newman (Center for Ethics in Society) will lead the course, and guest speakers will share ethical tensions in their own research about a variety of topics, including conducting research with vulnerable populations, intellectual property and academic/industry ties, conducting community-based research, and links between research and policy reform. Confirmed guest speakers include:

  • Tyrone Hayes (Berkeley, Integrative Biology)
  • Lisa Curran (Stanford, Anthropology)
  • Michelle Mello (Stanford, Law & School of Medicine)
  • Jamil Zaki (Stanford, Psychology)

The class meets daily from September 8 through September 11, 2015, from 9:30am to noon with an optional lunch provided noon to 1:00pm.

Apply here.  Grad students have priority if they apply by May 9th.

About SGSI

SGSI courses are interdisciplinary courses sponsored by the Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education. They are open to incoming and current graduate students from across the University and meet before the fall quarter begins. The courses are free, and non-credit carrying.

Reflections on the Class Experience from 2014


Henry Tessler, Cognitive Science graduate student

Studies: Interested in issues of data and analysis, reasoning, language and mathematical models

“I deal with the ethical issues of replicability, data sharing, and analysis sharing.” — Henry Tessler

Favorite part of the course: 

“The Mike Frank (Assistant Professor of Psychology) lecture was the most relevant to me. What I knew about research best practices was reframed in a more ethical light. Those practices are not just good for you and your process but also for the overall scientific enterprise.”

Most surprising part of the class: 

“Even topics that didn’t seem immediately relevant — like working with corporations— were relatable in the end. There were 12 of us from very different backgrounds (in the class) but I could connect with every one because these ethical issues are, ultimately, all connected.”


Megha Makam, Neurobiology graduate student

Studies: The role of sleep in fear, learning and memory

“I grapple with the ethics of animal models.” — Megha Makam

Her ethical dilemma:

"I think, in general, bioscientists have a lot of resources and it's often easy to just order more mice for an experiment that would have incremental impact on the field. It's heart-breaking to see how many people are desensitized to using animal models for research. I think there needs to be more accountability and perhaps greater efforts to develop models that are more physiologically relevant for human pathologies."

What brought her to SGSI:

"I came to the research ethics course because there are questions I’ve always had that are more general and the speaking list was so compelling. I was eager to be in a place to talk about these questions with people who are also interested in the ethics of research."

On speaking up:

"When you speak up, others say, 'Oh, yeah, I’m concerned too.' If you don’t speak up, everyone is just dandy with it. I don’t think I’m a rebel — I just usually say something. Something that’s attractive about this class is that I’m finding others who also speak up."