The Northeast Ethics Education Partnership

Project Description

Research in the environmental sciences, engineering, and related fields often involves working with groups of community members through partnerships and consultation arrangements. Many environmental projects take place in communities with diverse cultural groups. Training in human subjects protections must therefore include respecting individuals as members of place-based communities. Additionally, cultural groups within local communities in the US and internationally have particular histories and traditions, group processes and research experiences that are important to learn about from case study and other sources. Ethical theories, cultural competence/humility theory, applied ethics articles and case studies offer valuable preparation for developing culturally-appropriate research methods and for developing more ethical approaches for research interventions with place-based communities. 

Brown University’s Center for Environmental Studies, in partnership with SUNY-ESF, was awarded a three-year grant for developing and implementing a "Northeast Ethics Education Partnership (NEEP)" from the NSF’s grant program for “Ethics Education in Science and Engineering from 2010-2013. Both faculty and graduate students in environmental studies, science, and engineering, participated in advanced training in research ethics, cultural competence and community-based research for field research. The collaborative project team is promoting a new research ethics training curriculum combining expanded education about individual and community-based human subjects protection and cultural competence training for environmental research in the US and abroad. In 2013, NEEP was awarded a second grant to expand our partnership to UMASS-Dartmouth Engineering and Marine Science and Technology schools, and to Northeastern University's School of Engineering and the Marine and Environmental Science Department.

NEEP Project Goals

The NEEP has designed the following goals to broaden the training and dissemination of research ethics training to graduate students in two regional areas having many schools and programs of environmental studies. Additionally, the Partnership will reach out to scientific societies to expand our training, and provide dissemination nationally. 

1. To develop a regoinal research ethics network at Brown University's Center for Environmental Studies partnering with SUNY-ESF, UMASS-Dartmouth and Northeastern University for developing research ethics course syllabi, training modules, materials and methods for faculty and graduate students in environmental science, engineering, and related fields 

For more than ten years, Brown University’s Center for Environmental Studies (CES) and other collaborating faculty at Brown and the collaborating university partners have worked to increase ethics training for those studying culturally-diverse populations and distressed communities. In this proposal, we have organized this Northeast partnership to set up a regional training for the Northeast region with national and international outreach. The collaborating faculty have organized faculty and graduate students for a shared program of ethics education at SUNY-ESF, Brown University, UMASS-Dartmouth and Northeastern University.

2. To implement a cooperative graduate ethics training program with the following training objectives.

These training priorities being carried out with the partnering universities include: (a) short course training for one credit in Ethics, Culture and Community-based Research - semester-based or summer workshops ; (b) Training Certificate in Ethics, Culture and Community-based Research (online and blended in-classroom) (c) Training Certificate in Ethics for Engineers (online and blended in-classroom)(d) one or two credit semester course training in Marine Science and Ethics (e)  faculty-student mentoring; (f) faculty development-mentoring/workshops (g) train-the-trainer workshops at national conferences for faculty; and (h) website dissemination of training materials. Each venue will offer training modules from our newly-developed curriculum that combines cultural competence theory/methods with human subjects protections/Belmont Principles (see training modules/course curriculum). Additionally, topics in research integrity, community-based research, professional ethics, environmental sustainability and ethics, intellectual property rights and data management will be customized for training in the specific subdisciplines of environmental studies/sciences and engineering field research.

3. NEEP Survey to Assess and Compile Ethical Approaches in Field Research with Place-based Communities and Cultural Groups

NEEP has developed an online survey for researchers who conduct field research in place-based communities and with cultural groups to inform us of their ethical approaches with beneficence, nonmaleficence, respect for persons/respect for communities (forms of individual and group consent) and community-based approaches. If you have important findings or innovative strategies to share, please see more information at...  (Survey now closed)