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Life Science Ethics Program Presents New Programming for 2018-2019 Academic Year

The Life Science Ethics Program is gearing up for a year of new events and programming. The School of Life Sciences created the Life Science Ethics Program to support SOLS faculty, students, and staff who frequently engage in the broader societal and ethical implications of life sciences research and education. This year, Dr. Karin Ellison, program director, and Michelle Sullivan Govani, graduate intern, have organized a series of events to bring the SOLS and broader ASU communities together to explore the ethical dimensions of life science.

Our Film Series will “kick-off” each semester, and this year the series focuses on “Learning about Brains and Doing Science in the Public Interest.” How do advances in neuroscience inform medical care, public health initiatives, and social practices? How does social context shape the experience of researchers and how research is used? On Monday, September 10, 2018, we will explore those questions and themes with Concussion (2015), starring Will Smith. The film will be accompanied by dinner, followed by a panel discussion with ASU SoLS Professor and neuroscientist Janet Neisewander, ASU SHPRS Lecturer Shawn Klein, and visiting scholar, Gretchen Winter, J.D., Executive Director of the Center for Professional Responsibility in Business and Society at the College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Seating is limited; RSVP here. Stay tuned for more information on our January film, Awakenings (1990), starring Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams.

In addition to the Film Series, we will also host the Bioethics Breakfast Club, a once-per-semester meeting for SOLS faculty and graduate students to discuss emerging issues in bioethics. On Wednesday, October 24, 2018, Melissa Wilson Sayres and Karin Ellison will facilitate a discussion on Genetics and Race. Coffee and bagels on us! Please RSVP. For the February 2019, Bioethics Breakfast Club, we will continue with the theme of genetics and society in conversation facilitated by Stuart Newfeld and Karin Ellison.

In the Spring, the Ethics Program will collaborate with the Center for Biology and Society to co-host the Spring 2019 Conversation Series: “Organizing for Biodiversity Conservation in the Age of Extinction.” Across the spring semester, we will feature visiting scholars and ASU faculty and students in discussions revolving around:  Why should we care about biodiversity? What are we trying to save, exactly (e.g., genetic diversity, species diversity, ecoservices, wildness, something else)? How do we recruit and develop the next generation of science leaders and change-makers for biodiversity and conservation? How can diverse stakeholders collaborate to preserve biodiversity?  And how can local organizations such as zoos, botanical gardens, and universities work together for biodiversity conservation, across all scales?

Finally, if you’re a faculty member interested in diving deeper on a topic related to your research or teaching, Karin and Michelle are available for smaller-scale “Ethics at the Table” programs. Faculty pick the topic, the Ethics Program provides lunch, and we all have an engaging discussion. Example settings include lab-meetings, journal-clubs, and graduate seminars. Contact Karin or Michelle if you are interested in hosting “Ethics at the Table.”

The School of Life Sciences seeks to be a leader at ASU in engaging ethics, whether it’s through systematically addressing how to understand the relationship between science and society or in giving students a new, human-focused dimension to their scientific studies. In that spirit, we look forward to engaging with you at our Life Science Ethics Program events this fall and beyond!

More information: Karin Ellison ( and Michelle Sullivan Govani (