We aim to develop a new, practicum-based science ethics training program which will be particularly appropriate for the diverse, practically oriented student population at the University of Houston. This project, "Experiencing Ethics", is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Click here to read more about this effort.

Coverage in the journal Science of the AAAS

The journal Science has a nice commentary about our Ethics in Science program.
The article is entitled "Responsibly conducting research."

It is also posted at the Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Science
at the National Academy of Engineering.

Ethics in Science Seminar

Classifying People by Color: How Racial Categories Change Over Time

Professor Albert A. Martinez

29, 2016
11:00 A.M. - 12:30 P.M.
232 Philip G. Hoffman Hall

For years, I’ve taught a course titled “Biology, Behavior, and Injustice.” Among various topics, we discuss the history of how past scientists struggled to classify people in terms of race. At the University of Texas at Austin, where I teach, students are classified into five major racial categories: Black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian, and White. For comparison, I show my students an old science textbook, published a hundred years ago, that shows somewhat similar racial categories: “Black,” “Brown,” “Red,” “Yellow,” and “White.” Now of course, skin tones are not the most scientific way to classify people. Still, such classifications are among the most pervasive ways in which people think about others. Even scientists, physicians, and statisticians end up using and reifying such traditional and problematic categories. I will argue that we should stop reifying traditional racial categories. To do so, I will show how racial categories have changed over time, in American history in particular, to illustrate the arbitrariness of such categories. I will also discuss the results of an experiment that I’ve carried out with students at UT Austin. I compared students’ perceptions of skin tones and have found strikingly unexpected results showing how much they disagree when trying to identify races. I will urge that it is unethical for scientists to reify traditional racial classifications, but that we should devise better ways to plainly describe human differences. Read more...

  • Featured Blog

    Waltzing on a tightrope

    By Mythri Pullela | November 28, 2015

    Scientific endeavors can be described as nothing short of the proverbial term-‘Playing with fire’. Like fire, it is great potential and hazard rolled into one. But the one strong resemblance that leads me to this comparison is how we learn from it. A child would know not to get too close to his birthday candle once he burns himself. True, we get numerous warnings from our ever-watchful parents but nothing teaches us what the flame does like our first burn. It is true that experiences in the lab help us to learn from our mistakes but how do we avoid such ‘mistakes’? Most of the scientific guidelines we have today are a result of experiences (unfortunately most of them unpleasant ones) from the past. Read more ...

  • Featured Blog

    My Ethics and My Environment

    By Suraj Upadhyaya | November 27, 2015

    Numbers of electronic devices has increased more than 5 times around the world since industrial revolution. We all need energy to operate it. Our modern life is built on energy. Does anyone know where in the world this energy coming from, this is coming from burning fuels, coals etc. Fifty percent of US energy comes from the Coal and 80 % of Chinas energy comes from Coal. Remember burning anything releases carbon, burning coal and oil which are dense in carbon release carbon a lot. That carbon mixed in atmosphere and degrade the ozone layer, and when carbon mix with the oxygen in atmosphere act like a blanket and reserve heat in our surrounding thus temperature rises. Read more ...

  • Featured Blog

    Balancing The United States Energy Profile

    By Tyler Watkins | December 10, 2014

    In a recent study by H Damon Matthews et al. of Concordia University, it was found that the United States was the global leader in green house gas emissions. These gases have been proven to build up in the earth’s atmosphere and trap heat over time. Their accumulation has led to changes in the global climate and the United States’ government must not only take responsibility, but also make significant strides into lowering these harmful emissions. Read more ...

  • Featured Blog

    Timeless designs and irresponsible practices

    By Olga Bannova | December 10, 2014

    There are famous architects whose names probably well‐known even to people who are far from architectural profession: Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster, Frank Gehry, Santiago Calatrava, Renzo Piano, Jean Nouvel and quite few others. They have received Pritzker prizes and their creations are distributed around the world on postcards and tourists brochures. After all, buildings that we construct now and that will stand for years to come will represent our times to future generations, right? Maybe it is true and nothing else matters except a masterpiece that left for centuries to admire, argue about, or even hate but never remain neutral about it. Read more ...

Featured Course

Ethics in Science (Fall 2015)

The course focuses on historical perspectives and current practices of ethics and professional responsibility in science, technology engineering and mathematics. It includes a practicum component in a science or medical lab.

Read more ...