Communities of Practice

This is a new endeavor for the OEC. Our aim is for the Communities of Practice (COP) to support groups of people who share particular interests in ethics, and to facilitate collaboration, learning and growth in their capacity to teach ethics, do research, or to manage organizations and projects, ethically. The goal is to provide community support that will enable 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. 

Biomedical Engineering Ethics 

  • Leading Fellow: Andrew O. Brightman, Purdue University, Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering
  • Description: The purpose of this community of practice is to facilitate communication and discussion about research, resources, best practices, and professional development opportunities among the faculty, staff, and students, at universities and professional and research organizations, who are involved with or interested in the following activities related to ethics of biomedical engineering and design, development, and deployment of medical technologies:
    • Responsible for teaching ethics or embedding ethics in a curriculum
    • Conducting research on ethics issues and ethics pedagogy
    • Engaged in developing professional code(s) of ethics
    • Providing professional development opportunities related to ethics
    • Training in responsible and ethical research and practice

Biomedical engineering (BME) is a quickly growing and significant field of STEM research and practice and is especially important to study given the ethical impacts of this field on the health and well-being of society. 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 in the ethics of BME. Thus, the OEC is supporting a CoP to help address the need for concerted efforts at enhancing ethics education and ethical praxis in this discipline. Already there are many engaged in these efforts and the CoP will provide a venue where we can come together to network, share resources and practices, and develop educational materials toward preparation for professional practice.

Scholars, Educators, and Administrators Fostering Research Integrity 

  • Leading Fellow: 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  

  • Leading Fellows: Dr. Laura Grossenbacher (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and Dr. Rider Foley (University of Virginia) 
  • Description: 

Environmental Ethics and Engineering (fellowship applications invited)

Social Justice in Engineering (fellowship applications invited) 



How COPs will be managed:

The OEC COP function is managed by the OEC Community Manager. Individual COPs will be 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 will help to identify and invite new members to join the COP and to foster engagement in the community.

What the COP will do:

Particular COP functions will be determined by its members, to best support the needs of the community. Possibilities might 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 OEC resources
  • Develop new resources, such as collections of educational materials, and submit them for public posting on the OEC
  • Propose and collaborate on a webinar series with the OEC
  • Development of other collaboration functionality

When the COPs will start:

The new OEC site will soon have the functional capacity to activate the COPs. Meanwhile, fellowship applications from individuals interested in leading a COP are welcome. Click here to download fellowship application information. The OEC will begin accepting additional COPs in Fall 2021.

How to join a COP:

First, join the OEC. The membership form provides an indication for interest in a particular COP. Once that COP is activated, then membership in the indicated group(s) will be automatic. For current member of the OEC, the membership profile can be updated for sign up for a COP.