Communities of Practice

Communities of Practice (CoP) support groups of people who share particular interests in ethics and facilitate collaboration, learning, and growth in their capacity to teach ethics, do research, or to manage organizations and projects, ethically. The OEC provides support that enables these groups of people to become more skillful and aware in asking and answering ethical questions in the contexts of their professional endeavors. For further information about leading or creating a new Community of Practice, please see below. If you are already a member of a CoP, you can access your community's homepage via the My Account link at the top right of the site. 


Biomedical Engineering Ethics 

Leading Fellow: Dr. Andrew O. Brightman, Purdue University, Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering

Description: The purpose of this Community of Practice (CoP) focused on Ethics in Biomedical Engineering (BME) is to facilitate communication and discussion about research, resources, best practices, and professional development opportunities among the faculty, staff, students, and other professionals who are involved with or interested in the following activities related to ethics of biomedical engineering:

  • Teaching ethics or embedding ethics in a curriculum
  • Conducting research on ethics issues and ethics pedagogy
  • Developing or revising a professional code of ethics
  • Providing professional development opportunities related to ethics
  • Training responsible and ethical research and practice
  • Conducting ethical research in biomedical engineering

Biomedical engineering (BME) is a quickly growing and significant field of STEM research and practice.  Given the impact of this field on the health and well-being of society it is an especially important area for attention to ethics. Recent news reports and scholarly articles have raised some serious ethical concerns about the development of medical technologies and about certain areas of BME research suggesting that there is more work to be done in terms of understanding and training the ethics of BME. Thus, the OEC is supporting this CoP to help address the need for concerted efforts at enhancing ethics education and ethical praxis in this discipline. This initiative will provide a venue where members of this CoP can come together to network and share needs, resources, ideas, and practices, as well as develop educational materials toward preparation for professional practice. We invite all interested persons from all academic colleges and universities, research institutions, or professional organizations to join. We welcome members from any discipline with interest in ethical engineering and deployment of biomedical technologies.

Scholars, Educators, and Administrators Fostering Research Integrity

Leading Fellow: Dr. Julie Simpson, University of New Hampshire  

Description: The purpose of this community of practice is to facilitate communication and discussion about resources, best practices, and professional development opportunities among individuals at academic institutions and research organizations who are:

  • Responsible for administering research integrity (RI)/responsible conduct of research (RCR) training or education programs 
  • Engaged in RI/RCR training or education, or
  • Scholars/researchers of RI/RCR.

Due to the primacy of integrity or responsible conduct in performing rigorous and ethical research and U.S. federal agency (e.g., National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health) and other organizational RI/RCR training or education requirements, there are a multitude of individuals who are engaged in this work around the world yet there are few venues where they can come together to network, share, and develop professionally. This proposed community of practice would provide a venue that is easily accessible, regardless of location or available resources. Ethical concerns related to the conduct of science are a core part of RI/RCR training/education work and thus will be an integral component of the community of practice’s work.

Teaching Ethics to Engineering Students

Leading Fellows: Dr. Laura Grossenbacher (University of Wisconsin-Madison, College of Engineering) and Dr. Rider Foley (University of Virginia, Department of Engineering and Society) 

Description: This community of practice aims to create a hub for engineering ethics educators, or the E3 Hub. The co-fellows will facilitate dialogues that invite instructors to share, develop, and refine their course materials. Rather than focusing on a specialized discipline, this community will encourage cross-disciplinary and cross-curricular modes of teaching and learning. Questions that will guide the formation of the E3 Hub include:

  • Who is teaching engineering ethics, where, and how are they teaching it?
  • What is working well, what doesn’t work well, and how do we know what is working?
  • How are faculty from diverse disciplines incorporating ethics into engineering subject-matter courses, and what support and resources do they have?
  • Can engineering ethics courses foster learning that crosses campus boundaries, for example, into the local community? Or across two different universities?
  • Who is directly connecting undergraduate engineering ethics to the concerns of practicing engineers, and what strategies do they use to make those connections?
  • How might the power structure in colleges of engineering be either supporting or limiting the development of effective ethics education? What strategies have people used to enhance the support structure in their own institution?
  • How are engineering ethics teachers directly engaging with the diversity and inclusion efforts that are expanding currently on many campuses?

We hope members of this new community will be interested in sharing engineering-specific case studies, pedagogies for interrogating diverse value systems, and different ethical decision-making strategies, along with approaches for embedding ethics assessments within engineering courses. 

The E3 Hub will maintain a list of interested teachers, facilitate regular meetings on topics of pedagogical interest, augment the OEC library with cross-disciplinary case studies, and provide resources for cross-university ethics instruction. 

Data Epistemologies and Interpretive Ethics

Leading Fellows: Dr. Natasha Mauthner (Newcastle University) and Dr. Dena Plemmons (University of California, Riverside).

This Community of Practice will continue conversations around different kinds of interpretive authority used to justify knowledge claims in the social sciences generated by distinct epistemological starting points for what constitute data among, for example, big data researchers and ethnographers respectively. This includes examination of differences among these forms of knowledge production within and across distinct kinds of data-related practice, and as a contribution to more sharply identifying both the frontier and the potential forms of mutual enrichment among these distinct fields.

Developing and Implementing Institutional RECR Plans

Leading Fellow: Katie Bode-Lang, Penn State University 

This Community of Practice supports institutions as they work to develop, implement, and/or expand Responsible and Ethical Conduct of Research (RECR) plans, specifically related to NSF requirements.  This CoP will share ideas and suggest guidelines for plan development and assist community members to move beyond basic compliance toward robust RECR programs for their institution.

This CoP is open to administrators, staff, faculty, and others tasked with developing or expanding institutional RECR plans.  This CoP is welcoming of all who could benefit from RECR plan support, from those new to RECR planning to those who have successfully implemented plans, though this CoP is primarily envisioned as a good “starting place” community for those new to RECR.

Engineering & Social Justice

Leading Fellows: Elliot P. Douglas, Ph.D., F. ASEE, University of Florida and J. Britt Holbrook, New Jersey Institute of Technology

The Community of Practice in Engineering and Social Justice seeks to expand the conversation about engineers’ professional and ethical responsibilities to include engineering as a sociotechnical field and considerations of social justice. Engineers typically receive training that enables them to recognize their professional and ethical responsibilities in broader environmental and societal contexts. However, both ‘professionalism’ and ‘ethics’ are often too narrowly construed to address considerations of social justice. As a result, engineers may consider their professional duties to be limited to their responsibilities to their clients and to the profession, while viewing their societal responsibilities as extending only to public safety. In addition, ethics are taught in a way that makes the topic appear to be secondary to ‘real’ engineering.

This CoP aims to expand not only our thinking about engineering and social justice, but also our options for teaching and training engineers about engineering as sociotechnical, social justice, and ways that engineers can develop engineering solutions that respect society and all its members. To achieve these aims, the CoP includes practicing engineers, ethicists, students, and members of community groups whose goals are consistent with social justice.

Data Ethics

Leading Fellow: Dr. Victoria Stodden, University of Southern California, Viterbi School of Engineering

We surely live in the age of data. As society increasingly invests in the collection, storage, and processing of myriad kinds of data, ethical issues arise across the engineering enterprise. This Community of Practice intends to interpret the notion of Data Ethics broadly, from issues attending to all of: data collection, storage, curation, access; disclosure and transparency in data use including collection, longevity, access, rights; experimental design and methods of data analysis, dissemination of findings; reproducibility and reliability of results derived from data analysis; data and methods sharing; changing social norms; privacy; the impact of data driven technologies including Large Language Models and AI, and other topics raised by the community. We seek a wide variety of contributions from use cases illustrating ethical issues to guidance on resolving ethical dilemmas involving data.


How to Join a Community of Practice

First, join the OEC. After logging in to your OEC account, click "My Account" on the top right of the page (on desktop). On your account page, click "Join a Community of Practice." From this page, you can join any CoP that is currently open. Click here for more detailed instructions on how to join a CoP.

OEC members can always find links to their CoP homepage(s) by visiting the "My Account" link on the top right of the page. 

Here is a video tutorial for how to sign up for the OEC and join a CoP.

{"preview_thumbnail":"/sites/onlineethics/files/styles/video_embed_wysiwyg_preview/public/video_thumbnails/HszusaEmf1Q.jpg?itok=7TEebLyg","video_url":"","settings":{"responsive":1,"width":"854","height":"480","autoplay":0},"settings_summary":["Embedded Video (Responsive)."]}

If you'd like to leave a CoP, please click here for instructions.

About Communities of Practice

The OEC CoP function is managed by the OEC Community Manager. Individual CoPs are led by an appointed OEC Fellow for CoP Leadership, someone who has expertise and experience related to the area of interest to the community. This person helps identify and invite new members to join the CoP and fosters engagement in the community.

CoP Activities: 

Particular CoP functions are determined by its members, to best support the needs of the community. Possibilities include:

  • Directory of members with contact, photo, bio, and areas of interest
  • Discussion forums (threads initiated by community members)
  • File sharing (i.e., articles, syllabi, notes from the community)
  • Access to OEC resources
  • Development of new resources, such as collections of educational materials, and submitting them for public posting on the OEC
  • Propose and collaborate on a webinar series with the OEC
  • Development of other collaboration functionality