Ethics in Science (all STEM fields)- Fall 2019

Historical perspectives and current practices of ethics and professional responsibility in STEM

IDNS 6391-1 (18148)
IDNS 4391-1 (18147)

Fall 2019: MW, 4-5.30 pm,
Classroom: 315 HBSB-1 (Health and Biomedical Sciences Building 1)


Science, technology, and medicine are driving forces in our society. They inspire hopes but also fears. They are used but also abused. Billions are spent for research and practice. What is the dark side of science, technology, and medicine? How do scientists, engineers, and physicians cope with it? What are their ethical dilemmas? What are the current ethical standards and practices and how do they originate?

The course targets mainly graduate students but undergraduate students will also find it highly enlightening and helpful. Its educational method was developed as part of an NSF-funded project, gaining national attention. For additional information, please visit the project’s home page at:

The course incorporates analytical as well as experiential and emotional elements, ranging from acting in historical debates to participating in the current scientific enterprise. It covers a wide range of disciplines, keeping the class engaging and accessible across departmental boundaries. In our team-science era, the value of such course cannot be overestimated: Learning to interact and work in inter- and multi-disciplinary settings is a must for STEM students at all levels. Historical knowledge is also fundamental to quality STEM education: There is no way to build a better future without drawing wisdom from the past.

In particular, the course combines case studies and hands-on experiences, aiming to educate students on issues of professional and social responsibility, peer review and authorship, as well as human/animal experimentation. The course uses extensively documentary films, debate sessions, and blogging as instructional mechanisms.

This course was supported in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through grant #1135357 (Ethics Education in Science and Engineering (EESE): “Experiencing Ethics”).

The journal Science had a nice commentary, entitled “Responsibly conducting research,” about our Ethics in Science program.

Comments from Past Students

"This course should be a requirement for all Ph.D. students. It teaches you how science should work and the dangers of bad science. The debates are the best. I love how they are maintained, proctored, and kept in order, neutral, and civilized manner. I am a visual thinker and so movies are a big plus."

"Great learning experience. This was a wonderful class. I gained a rich perspective and understanding of Ethics in Science."

"This course was very eye opening. I wish this was a required course in all science and social science majors."

"The debates were very interactive and educative. The films were very instrumental in understanding the accompanying lectures."

"Great and unusual course!"

"The instructor is very human, picks your brain."

"This is one of the best courses for graduate students-educational and very informative."

"Overall, this is one of my favorites courses at UH. I really enjoyed my experience."

"Thumbs up for the different perspective to ethics in science."

"Overall the experience was great, and I learned valuable tips for when I begin reviewing."

"I don't think I would have had a mentorship experience outside the class, so it was a unique opportunity."

"Great class! One of the most interesting and best classes I have taken. It really made you think and analyze ethical issues instead of just giving you things to memorize for a test."

"This class was fun and taught me how to use common sense in ethical thinking. I enjoyed it."

"Overall the quality of this course goes above and beyond any other class I have taken and I would take something similar again if given the choice."

"This course has been fantastic and very exciting. I've wanted to take an ethics course for a long time and this has been perfect."

"This is the most interactive course I have ever enrolled in."