The Life Sciences, Biosecurity, and Dual Use Research


Our “The Life Science, Biosecurity and Dual Use Research” seminars have sought to engage practicing scientists and students in thought provoking discussions about the possible implications of their work. Rather than simply providing information, we think it is important for people to discuss these issues with one another. In the spirit of encouraging further deliberation, we have produced two educational aids:

1. NYAS eBriefing

On 28 March 2006, we conducted a seminar at the New York Academy of Sciences. The NYAS video recorded the session and produced one of its eBriefing web pages. This “No Easy Answers” eBriefing includes:

- the audiovisual recording of the seminar (app. time 1h 15m);
- an analysis of our reasoning for asking what we did;
- transcribed examples of exchanges from previous seminars to illustrate contrasting responses;
- further questions for consideration based on the NYAS conversation;
- links to relevant web sites.

The seminar can be viewed on its own or used in conjunction with the other elements of the eBriefing. Course instructors, for instance, can assign students to watch the seminar or do so while also responding to the further questions posed.

2. Dual Use Role Playing Simulation

To allow for course instructors to conduct these seminars, we have produced a teaching aid packet. This will not only allow individuals to repeat the seminar but also take them a step further. Working with Marie Chevrier (University of Texas at Dallas) we have turned our basic structure into a role playing exercise. In this participants are asked to imagine what they might say to the questions posed if they were a 1st year post doc, a senior professor, a police officer, a scientific reporter, etc. An advantage of such role playing is that it challenges people to think, respond and listen in ways that they might not otherwise.

This role play packet consists of three files:

1. A set of PowerPoint slides with elaborating notes and links;
2. Role instructions for 16 different participants; and
3. A background teaching note.

In terms of time requirements, this seminar could be run as part of a 1.5 hour course or otherwise split up.

If you have a comment on either of these aids, please contact Brian Rappert (



Educational Resources
Sociology & Philosophy; School of Humanities and Social Sciences; University of Exeter; Exeter EX4 4QJ; United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)1392 263353

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