Cases for Teaching Responsible Communication of Science

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Project Supported by the NSF Ethics Education in Science and Engineering Program

As scientists continue to expand their efforts to communicate effectively, they will also encounter challenges of how to communicate appropriately. How can the obligations to be accurate to the science and engaging to the audience be balanced? What roles can scientists play, especially on controversial topics? Are scientists responsible for what happens to their messages when journalists and other communicators get involved?  The Cases for Teaching Responsible Communication of Science project at Iowa State University has developed case studies based on actual events to allow these and related questions to be explored in classroom settings.

Each of the cases below includes a student packet to provoke discussion of these challenging ethical issues. In addition, most also include a more in depth role-play version, inviting students to take on different “characters” with different perspectives of the communication choices. Finally you'll find teachers’ guides to using the cases in both formats, bibliographies of possible readings, issues briefs summarizing the likely arguments in the case, and a description of the actual outcomes.

Interested in using one of the cases? See the teachers' guides for the role-play (longer) and discussion (shorter) versions of the cases, and please contact us to let us know what you're doing.

Copyright 2015 Teaching Responsible Communication of Science Project, Ames, IA. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number 1237495. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.