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NSF EESE Interdisciplinary PBL Course on "Fractious Problems"-Course Materials

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In the "Supporting Docs" please find the following course materials:

(1) Syllabus,
(2) Attachments 1 and 2, and
(3) Problems 1-5.

These were the course materials for an experimental, graduate-level, interdisciplinary and inter-institutional, problem-based learning (PBL) course addressing "fractious problems" in science and technology. The course was offered in fall 2009 and 2010. The course offerings and related research effort were supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Ethics Education in Science and Engineering (EESE) program.

In each course offering, graduate and professional students were arrayed in two interdisciplinary and inter-institutional teams. Their disciplinary programs spanned science, engineering, social science, humanities, law, and medicine. Their home institutions were Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University, Georgia State University College of Law, and Morehouse School of Medicine. (See attached Syllabus.)

Each PBL team was assigned a short practice problem (see attached Problem 1) and two longer problems (see attached Problems 2-5). The problems were designed to be "fractious"-novel, complex, ethically fraught, unavoidably public, and unavoidably divisive problems in science and technology policy. Students were asked to apply six skills in analyzing and devising policy resolutions for the problems (see Attachment 1) and to apply PBL skills in doing so (see Attachment 2).The problems were composed by NSF EESE grant project personnel and the teams were facilitated by project faculty members. Teams presented their analyses and policy resolutions to audiences of experts, stakeholders, and policymakers.


(1) Funding credit and disclaimer:
We gratefully acknowledge support for the experimental course offerings and the related research effort from the NSF EESE Program, Award ID SES-0832912, "Ethically Contentious Research and Innovation: An Interdisciplinary and Inter-institutional Experiment in Ethics Education and Assessment." Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

(2) Authorship and License:
Primary authorship of the attached course materials is shared among Gillian Hue Beckford, Roberta M. Berry, Edward L. Queen II, Kathy Kinlaw, Wendy C. Newstetter, and Leslie E. Wolf, with suggestions and editorial contributions from other project personnel.
Contact authors and email addresses for additional information are listed on each document.
These documents are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, 444 Castro Street, Suite 900, Mountain View, California, 94041, USA.

(3) Project Personnel:
Georgia Institute of Technology: Roberta M. Berry (PI), Robert J. Kirkman (Co-PI), Wendy C. Newstetter (Co-PI), Jason Borenstein, Robert J. Butera, Aaron D. Levine, Robert M. Nerem;
Emory University: Kathy Kinlaw (PI), Edward L. Queen II (Co-PI), Gillian Hue Beckford (Senior Personnel), John D. Banja, Michelle Lampl, Patricia Marstellar, Mark Risjord, Lisa A. Tedesco, Keith D. Wilkinson;
Georgia State University College of Law: Leslie E. Wolf (PI), Paul A. Lombardo, Charity Scott;
Morehouse School of Medicine: Martha L. Elks (PI), Douglas F. Paulsen;
Agnes Scott College: Lara Denis (Consultant);
UCLA: Laura Palucki Blake (Consultant); and
Duquesne University: Matthew Drake (Consultant).

(4) Publications regarding the course and related research effort:
Berry, Roberta M., Jason Borenstein, and Robert J. Butera. "Contentious Problems in Bioscience and Biotechnology: A Pilot Study of an Approach to Ethics Education." Science and Engineering Ethics. Forthcoming, published online before print, March 5, 2012 (DOI: 10.1007/s11948-012-9359-6).
Berry, Roberta M. "A Small Bioethical World?" HealthCare Ethics Committee Forum 23, no. 1 (2011): 1-14.
Berry, Roberta M. "Problem-Based Learning Regarding 'Fractious Problems' in Health Law: Reflections on an Educational Experiment." Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics 39, no. 4 (2011): 694-703.

(5) Additional publications regarding a "navigational approach" to addressing "fractious problems" in science and technology policy:
Berry, Roberta M. The Ethics of Genetic Engineering. New York: Routledge, 2007
Berry, Roberta M. "Can Bioethics Speak to Politics about the Prospect of Inheritable Genetic Modification? If So, What Might it Say?" In The Ethics of Inheritable Genetic Modification, ed. John E. J. Rasko, Gabrielle O'Sullivan, and Rachel A. Ankeny. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006, pp. 243-277.