Incorporating Societal and Ethical Issues of Nanotechnology into an Integrated User Network: Results from the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network

Katherine McComas, Nancy Healy
2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition Proceedings   unpublished
Nanoscale science and engineering (NSE) is viewed by many to be the next "technical revolution" which will transform science and industry in the 21 st century. It is important that society and the researchers bringing forth this technology understand the societal and ethical implications of this new technology. The National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN) is an integrated collective of 14 universities with open facilities that support nanoscale science and engineering research. The
more » ... ering research. The NNIN facilities train and support approximately 4,800 users per year. The network offers a unique opportunity for research in societal and ethical issues (SEI) as well as providing SEI information to users. The goals of the NNIN's SEI efforts are to: 1) develop societal and ethical consciousness within the user community and the broader NSE community and 2) broaden the exploration of the ethical and societal implications of NSE at NNIN and in the broader NSE community. To achieve these goals, we have developed three primary activities: 1) providing SEI training and educational opportunities for NNIN users; 2) stimulating SEI research on NNIN users and technologies; and 3) disseminating the outcomes of SEI research at NNIN and in the broader NSE and scientific community. Regarding the first activity, this presentation will discuss the type of training we do at each site to engage users in thinking about SEI issues related to nanotechnology. Regarding the second, the NNIN has established a set of guidelines for investigators who want to initiate SEI research at one or more of our sites. In 2010, NNIN had seven projects examining issues ranging from diversity to conflicts of interest among our users. Cross-cutting all three activities, we also sponsor approximately 80 participants per year in the Research Experience for Undergraduates program which includes SEI in two ways. First, all sites are required to have their interns read Nanotechnology & Society: Ideas for Education and Public Engagement 1 and discuss the material. This activity also takes place in preparation for the NNIN REU Convocation, a threeday meeting where REUs present their research. At this meeting, we have a panel session on SEI issues and interns present results on SEI-related research. This talk will provide an overview of the results from this aspect of our program. Finally, based on the REU project, we have developed a series of posters -Responsible Research in Action -that are available to all who are interested. Information on the development and distribution of these posters will be presented.
doi:10.18260/1-2--18132 fatcat:rirtf3njnbc4ng26vuexxgbjny