2009 Events

Stephen Gardiner

Why ‘Ethics and Climate Change’?

Wednesday, October 28th, FOSEP Seminar, 4pm, Physics Astronomy Auditorium PAA Room A110.

Dr. Stephen Gardiner is an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and the Program on Values in Society at the University of Washington. He specializes in ethics, political philosophy, and environmental ethics. Dr. Gardiner is the editor of Virtue Ethics, Old and New and co-editor of the upcoming Climate Ethics: Essential Readings (Oxford, 2010). As Elaine wrote in her blog of Gardiner’s presentation:

There is a strong ethical component to how we choose to reduce CO2 emissions and tackle climate change, according to Dr. Stephen Gardiner, University of Washington Department of Philosophy, at this week’s FOSEP seminar.  Dr. Gardiner put forth two questions on climate policy that have underlying moral considerations:

1. Where should we set a global ceiling on CO2 emissions?
2. How should those emissions be distributed among the world population?

Dr. Gardiner called the second question the easy moral question.  All views of fairness point to developed countries shouldering the burden of emissions reductions.  He called the first question the tough moral question.  In setting a global ceiling, how do we weigh the needs and aspirations of current people, obligations to future people, and obligations to plants and animals of the planets?  How do we weigh the responsibilities of individuals versus governments?
Dr. Gardiner did not offer optimism for progress at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.  Any policy, no matter how ethical, has to be politically feasible.  Up to now, the United States has been unwilling to take steps towards emissions reductions.   However, almost all the nations in the world must agree to a plan to tackle climate change, or the countries that do not take part can negate the efforts of the countries moving ahead.
WA State Representative Glen Anderson
The State of Science Education in America

November. 24th, 2009, FOSEP Discussion

As Alex posted in his blog of the event: Mr. Anderson informed us that in the next 10 years, about half of the nation’s researchers (both industrial and academic) will reach retirement age. However, the “student pipeline” to fill those positions is starting to dry up because more and more of today’s students are not proficient in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, mathematics).

Solutions to this are not easy to come by. Foreign students who obtain higher education in America often go back to their native countries. Policies meant to bolster science/math K-12 education are often met with stiff opposition by teachers’ unions. And the current economic crisis is not making education funding any easier, either.

A potential solution discussed at the meeting was more direct outreach to students. By getting “hands-on” science experience, the hope is that students would be excited to learn about it themselves.

But the overall impression from the meeting was that the American public is facing an education crisis. Our education system, and hence, our nation’s status as the world’s leading producer of science and technology, is being threatened. Unfortunately, the list of problems is longer than the list of solutions. Now is the time to fix that.


Cliff Mass

Scientists and the Media

January 27th, 2009, FOSEP Discussion


Steven Gilbert

Policy and Ethics of Toxic Waste Disposal

March 4th, 2009, FOSEP Discussion

Dr. Steven Gilbert Affiliate professor, UW Dept of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Board of Directors, Washington Toxics Coalition President of Board of Directors, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility Dr. Gilbert’s research focuses on neurobehavioral effects of low-level exposure to lead and mercury on the developing nervous system. His book, A Small Dose of Toxicology- The Health Effects of Common Chemicals was published in 2004 (www.asmalldoseof.org). More recently he has started a wiki based web site Toxipedia (www.toxipedia.org) with the mission of connecting science and people. His most recent project is the Healthy World Theater (www.HealthyWorldTheater.org), an effort to couple art and science to forge a more healthy and peaceful world. He has also worked with the Washington State government to reduce lead contamination in the environment. The discussion will focus on the policy and ethics issues surrounding disposal of toxic waste. Dr. Gilbert will also give perspectives on the role of scientists in educating the public and policy-makers.


Sandra Steingraber

Three Bets on our Economy, our Ecology, and the Future of Public Health: A vision of the future from a biologist, cancer survivor, and mother.

March 31st, 2009, FOSEP Seminar

Ecologist, author, and cancer survivor, Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D. is an expert on the environmental links to cancer and reproductive health. Steingraber’s highly acclaimed book, Living Downstream: An Ecologist Looks at Cancer and the Environment presents cancer as a human rights issue. She is recognized for her ability to serve as a two-way translator between scientists and activists, and recipient of awards for “excellence in medical communication,” “inspiring and poetic use of science to elucidate causes of cancer,” and the Rachel Carson Leadership Award. Steingraber is currently a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Ithaca College.


Brianna Blaser Project Director, Outreach AAAS Science Careers

Science Policy Careers

April 6th, 2009, FOSEP Discussion

Brianna Blaser is the Project Director of the Outreach Program for Science Careers and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) where she organizes career and professional development workshops for graduate students, postdocs, and early career scientists. Brianna earned her PhD in Women’s Studies at the University of Washington in 2008. Her dissertation, “More than Just Lab Partners: Women Scientists and Engineers Married to and Partnered with Other Scientists and Engineers”, examined how women scientists’ relationships with other scientists affect both their professional and personal lives. The discussion will focus on career options related to science policy. Dr. Blaser will discuss how to explore career options and build skills for a job outside of research. She will highlight policy fellowship programs and talk about the sorts of skills that are important in science policy-related careers.


Chris Mooney

The Death of Science Journalism

May 14th, 2009, FOSEP Seminar

We welcomed Chris Mooney, author, blogger, and journalist, to campus to discuss the crisis in the media today when it comes to communicating science. Mooney characterized the increasingly bleak landscape for science journalism–in the “old” and “new” media alike–and contrast it with the urgent need for public understanding of science at a time when our national future literally hinges on science and technology.


Dr. Steve Collins

How Policy Affects Technological Development: Public Funding of Science and Technology

May 20th, 2009, FOSEP Discussion

A discussion of funding relevant to any scientist competing for government grants. In public funding of science and technology, how much is enough? What do we know about the relationship between publicly funded R&D and improved living standards? How do we ensure public funding supports work that benefits society as opposed to narrow private interests?


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