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. 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: 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 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 Ethics

Fellowship applications invited. 

Environmental Ethics and Engineering 

Fellowship applications invited.

Social Justice in Engineering 

Fellowship applications invited. 


How to Join a COP

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. 

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

About COPs

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 OEC recently launched three COPs and is currently accepting applications for additional COP fellows. Individuals interested in leading a COP should submit a fellowship application form. Click here to download fellowship application information.