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Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
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4
Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies

INTRODUCTION

The remainder of the committee’s charge was to:

  • Identify gaps [based on its review of currently available courses and materials];

  • Consider ideas for filling the gaps, and

  • Discuss approaches for including education on dual use issues in the training of life scientists.

This chapter addresses these elements of the charge, drawing heavily on the information gathered and suggestions made during the workshop in Warsaw, supplemented by the growing number of other projects, reports, and meetings that have addressed education about dual use issues. Much of the discussion in Warsaw took place in breakout sessions, with additional information provided in plenary presentations and subsequent discussions. One of the plenary sessions on the first day and the first breakout session focused on providing additional information about the current state of education and the availability of online materials to supplement the background papers commissioned for the workshop; the results of these discussions were presented in the previous chapter. The remaining breakout sessions focused on specific topics, with the first four groups listed below addressing one set of common questions and the other four groups addressing a second common set. (The list of questions for all the sessions may be found in Appendix D.)

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
×
  1. Approaches to engaged teaching and learning (seminars, simulations and role playing, interactive online approaches, etc.)

  2. Teaching materials and curriculum content (topics, types of materials, resources for faculty, etc.)

  3. Motivating “students” (policy and ethical issues useful for raising awareness and engaging scientists in dual use problems)

  4. Preparing teachers (train-the-trainer, summer institutes, networks, etc.)

  5. Including dual use issues in existing education/training programs (bioethics, biosafety, responsible conduct of research [RCR])

  6. Developing models to foster and support education/training (centers of excellence, regional networks, virtual networks, clearinghouses)

  7. Promoting and sustaining dual use issues by scientific organizations (scientific societies, scientific unions, academies of science)

  8. Engaging the scientific community in dual use education (engaging faculty and institutional leadership)

In practice, there was considerable overlap and continuity within and across the sessions in Warsaw. For this reason, the rest of this chapter is divided into sections that address three broad topics, and the ideas from any plenary or breakout session may appear under one or more of these headings. The three sections are:

  • Educational Materials and Methods, with “materials” defined broadly to include a variety of online resources;

  • Implementing Education About Dual Use Issues: Practical Considerations, including teacher/faculty development, implementation at different stages of education and via existing programs such as bioethics or biosafety, and assessment and evaluation; and

  • Broader Implementation Issues, such as financial resources and the roles of scientific organizations, governments, and international organizations.

Some of the sections begin with “Background” that offers an introduction or information from other sources. This depends on how much material may have been presented earlier, such as the discussion of active learning and effective teaching in Chapter 2. That is followed by summaries of the presentations and discussions that took place in Warsaw, in some cases with additional information from other sources. Each section ends with the committee’s conclusions; the committee’s recommendations are presented at the end of the chapter.

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
×

EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS AND METHODS

Background

The discussions during the workshop made clear that, beyond the available online resources identified in Chapter 3, additional educational materials and resources are needed if discussions of dual use research are to be incorporated more widely and effectively into education programs for life scientists around the world. Participants at the workshop addressed questions on the suggested content of these materials, the types of teaching methods that would be effective in presenting them, and the opportunities for developing materials more collaboratively and disseminating them more widely. One of the recurring themes in the discussion was that “no one size fits all,” given the diversity of fields, interests, and experiences across the life sciences. The key is making the issue relevant to students and this requires a tailored approach. At the same time, participants also stressed the importance of finding ways to share successful practices and lessons learned as education about dual use issues expands.

Content

Participants suggested that content—to the greatest extent possible—be designed to complement a student’s courses or be related to the scientific research being conducted in the researcher’s laboratory. In this way, dual use issues would be seen as more directly relevant to the student and could be integrated into broader training programs rather than presented solely as stand-alone information. This also highlighted one of the most significant gaps identified by the participants: how much of the currently available online resources on dual use issues appear to be targeted to the U.S. research community. The materials frequently reference U.S. responses to events such as the 2001 anthrax letters, the establishment of bodies such as the U.S. National Science Advisory Board on Biosecurity (NSABB), and legislation such as the USA PATRIOT Act. Selected online materials have been produced by organizations in the United Kingdom and Western Europe, but the case studies presented to illustrate research with dual use potential are drawn primarily from examples conducted in laboratories in the United States and other developed countries, such as Australia. Implementing education about dual use issues on a global basis will require developing materials that speak more directly to students and faculty in other parts of the world.

With respect to such materials, some participants who had developed educational content on biosecurity and dual use research shared their experiences about which topics were most successfully received. Examples of real research cases, as well as fictional scenarios reflecting

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
×

situations that students might conceivably face, were cited as effective in engaging at least some groups of students. Some students also responded to discussions of how life scientists, as individuals or through their professional associations, had responded to other important issues affecting the conduct of life sciences research. Changes in the treatment of human subjects and laboratory animals were mentioned, along with more general discussions of the changes in biosafety standards and practices that reflect increased awareness of potential impacts on laboratory workers or the broader environment. Participants expressed the belief that these kinds of cases could be made relevant across a wide variety of national contexts.

Some participants also discussed the use of more specifically security-related cases, such as the history of previous state bioweapons programs and the types of biological weapons that had been developed, as well as cases of bioterrorism or attempts at bioterrorism, such as those by Aum Shinrikyo. Some students found the discussions of the role of scientists in these past cases, and why they were involved, to be useful. The examples were most successful when used as part of discussions of how biosecurity issues were relevant to the students, and with a clear articulation of why students need to be aware of dual use issues. Some also reported that students were interested in the existence of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) as an example of an international agreement dedicated to issues related to their studies or as the legal embodiment of the norm against the use of disease as weapon. Fewer students appeared interested in formal legal and regulatory structures (Smallwood 2009). Other participants suggested that discussions of biosecurity and research with dual use potential could be introduced to students by presenting potential security issues along a spectrum of risks that included natural and reemerging disease outbreaks as well as accidental releases and deliberate misuse.

Making Materials Accessible: The Language Barrier

One of the gaps most frequently cited by workshop participants was the lack of materials in languages other than English. This was part of a larger discussion during the workshop about the need to find ways to make both existing and new resources more widely and readily available. Some efforts are being made to translate the available materials; a few of the online case studies developed by the Federation of American Scientists (http://www.fas.org/programs/bio/educationportal.html, accessed July 10, 2010), for example, are available in French and Chinese, and the Education Module Resource (http://www.dual-usebioethics.net/, accessed July 10, 2010) from the Bradford Disarmament Research Center and its collaborators, has been translated into Japanese and Russian. Par-

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
×

ticipants stressed that it could not be assumed that English proficiency would be common at the undergraduate level or in technical training settings such as biosafety that included a range of laboratory personnel. Even at the postgraduate level and beyond, where English could be considered “the language of science,” those taking part in discussions of topics related to responsible conduct, ethics, and dual use might be more comfortable expressing complicated, controversial, or nuanced views in their native languages.1

Facilitating Collaborative Development and Making Materials Widely Available

A number of participants argued that the process of developing materials and teaching strategies for dual use education would benefit greatly from a collaborative approach and spirit. There is an opportunity to coordinate, and cooperate where possible, to save effort and resources while still tailoring particular activities to address specific fields, levels of education, and local or national context. One option that attracted substantial interest was the idea of a resource center or clearinghouse that could become an open-access repository to make curriculum and teaching materials widely available. Participants expressed the hope that such a repository could do more than collect and make materials available. Given the growing online capacities for discussion and collaboration, there were suggestions that some materials might be developed cooperatively. And as discussed further below, some participants also suggested that such a center could provide a venue for vetting materials and sharing lessons learned and best practices.

Several potential approaches to building this capacity were discussed in the workshop, and participants suggested that, with some effort and coordination, they might complement one another. The first would be to embed dual use issues within the science community by creating such a resource through a major scientific organization. The Second International Forum on Biosecurity in 2008 had suggested that the IAP, the global network of academies of science, might be the appropriate home (NRC 2009f). At the workshop, some participants proposed including materials about dual use issues in the resources available from a number of online centers that already exist to promote better science education; see Box 4-1 for a list and brief description of some examples. This proposal would have the advantage of integrating the materials into the broader efforts to incorporate the lessons from research on learning and teaching. Some

1

Participants also recognized that in laboratory settings with multinational personnel, English might be the most practical language to use.

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
×

BOX 4-1

Projects and Resources to Improve Science Education

MicrobeWorld


Established in 2003, MicrobeWorld is an interactive multimedia educational outreach initiative from the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) that promotes awareness and understanding of key microbiological issues to adult and youth audiences and showcases the significance of microbes in our lives. The various outreach methods feature the process of discovery, historical changes in research, and a variety of scientific careers in industry, academia, and government. www.microbeworld.org


MERLOT


Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT) is a free and open online community of resources designed primarily for faculty, staff and students of higher education from around the world to share their learning materials and pedagogy. MERLOT is a leading edge, user-centered collection of peer-reviewed higher-education online learning materials, catalogued by registered members and a set of faculty development support services. MERLOT’s strategic goal is to improve the effectiveness of teaching and learning by increasing the quantity and quality of peer-reviewed online learning materials that can be easily incorporated into faculty-designed courses. www.merlot.org


SENCER


Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities (SENCER) was initiated in 2001 under the National Science Foundation’s CCLI national dissemination track. Since then, SENCER has established and supported an ever-growing community of faculty, students, academic leaders, and others to improve undergraduate STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education by connecting learning to critical civic questions. SENCER’s goals are to: (1) get more students interested and engaged in learning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses, (2) help students connect STEM learning to their other studies, and (3) strengthen students’ understanding of science and their capacity for responsible work and citizenship. www.sencer.net

participants suggested that making the materials available on a science site rather than a security site might also make them more acceptable to the broader community of scientists who would be asked to incorporate them in their courses.

The second approach would be to incorporate the materials into sites intended to support teaching in the three main areas where participants

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
×

BEN


BiosciEdNet (BEN) Collaborative was established in 1999 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) with 11 other professional societies and coalitions. The BEN Collaborative mission is not only to provide seamless access to e-resources but to also serve as a catalyst for strengthening teaching and learning in the biological sciences. BEN resources have been reviewed by the individual societies for standards of quality and accuracy; the collaborative establishment of its metadata structure permits the user to easily conduct productive interdisciplinary searches across the diverse biological sciences topics. www.biosciednet.org


PKAL


Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL) is one of the leading advocates in the United States for what works in building and sustaining strong undergraduate programs in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). As an intelligence broker within the undergraduate STEM community, PKAL disseminates resources that advance the work of academic leaders tackling the challenging work of ensuring that the undergraduate STEM learning environment serves 21st century students, science, and society most effectively, efficiently, and creatively. PKAL themes include institutional transformation, human and physical infrastructure, the academic program, pedagogical tools, the national context, and twenty-first century student education. www.pkal.org


BioQuest


The BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium (BQCC) is a community of scientists, teachers, and learners who are interested in supporting biology education that reflects realistic scientific practices. The efforts in science education build on a commitment to engaging learners in a full spectrum of biological inquiry from problem posing to problem solving and peer persuasion. Many of the projects involve coordinating faculty development workshops that focus on strategies for bringing realistic scientific experiences into their classrooms and collaboratively developing curriculum projects. http://bioquest.org/

suggested dual use issues could be quite readily added to existing education and training: biosafety, bioethics, and RCR. This has already happened to some extent with the Resources for Research Ethics Education (www.research-ethics.net) site in the United States, and there is a website where one can follow the efforts of the European Science Foundation and others to expand RCR education internationally (http://www.esf.org/activities/mo-fora/research-integrity.html).

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
×

The Global Bioethics Observatory of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was mentioned as a potential site already well known to the global bioethics community. At present none of these sites—or any similar ones—is deeply engaged in education about dual use issues, but it seems important to add this approach to the mix of possible opportunities.2

The third possibility would be to make use of a site devoted to broader issues of biosecurity and include education issues as part of its portfolio. This is the approach being taken by the Virtual Biosecurity Center (VBC), a new project that was presented at the workshop in Warsaw. The VBC is a project of the Federation of American Scientists and several U.S. and international partners. The VBC is intended to be an integrated information hub that provides a “one stop shop” for biosecurity and public health preparedness information. In this regard, the VBC will serve as a hub to distribute products and information produced by other organizations, including academics, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and governments. It would not produce its own content and would not take positions on issues. The plan includes an online community resource that would provide the capacity for discussions among specialized groups that could also use it to collaborate on activities such as the development of materials. One issue raised was the capacity of the VBC to reach beyond the biosecurity community that will be its natural constituency to engage more traditional science and science education organizations, but the organizers have already made progress in that area by engaging several U.S. science organizations and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) as participants.

In the same vein, participants suggested that in some cases it might be appropriate to develop resource centers on a regional basis, where there might be more common experiences and examples to share and where networks might develop more readily and naturally. Other participants noted that in some regions the level of political tension among countries would make this difficult to implement and could lead to parochial approaches that would not benefit from a broader discussion of lessons learned elsewhere. Others suggested that national or regional centers could also be connected via the Internet, offering the advantages of local “ownership” of educational resources without sacrificing the benefits of international contacts.

Each of these options has advantages and limitations, and no clear consensus emerged from the workshop or the committee about the most

2

The World Health Organization (WHO) has addressed dual use issues and has recently revamped its approach to biosafety education, but at present it has no plans to become a general resource on biosafety education.

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
×

desirable choice. Instead, given the ability of websites to provide links to one another, the options were viewed as potentially compatible and that, although more complicated, collaboration among different types of sites could be the ideal outcome.

A number of participants noted that achieving these possibilities, although well within the reach of current technology and feasible given the communication and collaboration that have developed in recent years among important parts of these communities, would require resources to develop and sustain the efforts. Participants cited numerous examples of worthwhile projects that had begun and then expired because of lack of continuing financial support.

Participants also noted the desirability of creating ways to vet the materials available for teaching about dual use issues and expressed interest in creating ways to share impressions and perhaps conduct more structured assessments. There was some discussion of a Wikipedia-style discussion and collaboration mechanism to develop materials, although this format requires careful monitoring to ensure that the material is factual. The technology to support a variety of online discussions is available; for example, it is to be a feature of the VBC. Again, participants pointed out that access to these online mechanisms varies and that these issues would need to be considered in the design of any collaborative effort. But the hurdles were not seen as insurmountable, and there was substantial enthusiasm for taking advantage of such approaches as another way to build and sustain a network of engaged educators.

Educational Strategies and Teaching Methods

Chapter 2 already provided an introduction to the research about the most effective approaches to teaching, so this section offers only a brief summary of some of the specific comments made during the workshop. Participants described and proposed a variety of possible approaches for informing students about dual use issues. It is important to note that these included more traditional lecture settings and the large classes typical in introductory courses, provided they included ample opportunities for interaction between students and teachers and small group discussions where possible.

In terms of active learning approaches, using either real cases or scenarios as part of role playing was cited as an effective method to deliver content, since it engaged students in experiencing the perspectives of different stakeholders. A number of participants also discussed ways to incorporate newer media, such as audio and video podcasts and YouTube, and virtual reality settings such as Second Life.

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
×

A range of online approaches were discussed, including both those that engaged students with teachers and with each other, and those that were intended for use by individuals. Some participants described ways to bring Web 2.0 resources, such as wikis and blogs, into an educational setting, given that students in at least some parts of the world experience them as a regular part of their lives outside the classroom.3 For online groups, there was some discussion about generational differences, with younger students frequently seeming more engaged and comfortable with online discussions than older students (and perhaps faculty). For individually oriented online materials, the discussions underscored the need to avoid the passive go-through-a-series of slides, take-a-quiz, and print-a-certificate approach that characterizes a significant portion of traditional biosafety or RCR education.

For a number of participants, an overriding concern about the enthusiasm for online approaches was that the use of online teaching materials required sufficient connection speed and technical support, which may be a major limitation in reaching students where access to Internet is not universal. Participants stressed that, although this is frequently presented as a problem for developing countries, it also affects developed countries such as the United States where broadband capacity varies significantly. Several participants suggested that well-designed CDs or DVDs, which would not pose the same connectivity issues, could be used instead and could provide most of the same opportunities for engagement and interaction.

No single approach was considered the most appropriate or effective, and participants in several breakout sessions emphasized that more than one mode could be combined. Participants stressed again that the most effective teaching strategies were likely to depend on the targeted audiences.

Conclusions

Based on its understanding of the materials currently available, as described in Chapter 3 and above, on the additional material about teaching strategies in Chapter 2, and on the discussions at the Warsaw meeting, the committee concluded that:

  • Additional materials are needed that will be relevant to diverse audiences in many parts of the world, as well as those at dif-

3

An account of research about such efforts at the K-12 level was presented at the 2010 conference of the International Society for Technology in Education and offers potentially relevant suggestions for more advanced settings. It may be found at http://center.uore-gon.edu/ISTE/2010/program/search_results_details.php?sessionid=50054537&selection_id=54084303&rownumber=4&max=4&gopage=, accessed July 10, 2010.

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
×

ferent educational stages, in different fields within the life sciences, and in related research communities. A number of good resources have been developed, but there is a need for more that are relevant to research related, for example, to plants or animals and to fields that are not as obviously security-related.

  • More materials are needed in languages other than English. This will be particularly important in undergraduate settings or when used as part of technical training (i.e., biosafety).

  • In addition to online resources, materials such as CDs or DVDs that can provide comparable opportunities for engaged learning are needed for areas that lack the sustained access or capacity to take full advantage of Web-based materials.

  • Providing widespread access to materials that could be adapted for specific contexts or applications through open access repositories or resource centers would be important to implementing and sustaining dual use education.

  • Given current technology, it would be feasible to create the capacity to develop materials through online collaborations, as part of or in partnership with repositories or resource centers. Online collaborative tools can be a key mechanism to facilitate global participation in the development of materials, although, again, issues of access to the Internet will need to be considered in designing any arrangements.

  • Developing methods and capacity for the life sciences and educational communities to comment on and vet education materials, such as an appropriately monitored Wikipedia model, would be important. Another important capacity would be the ability to share lessons learned and best practices about materials and teaching strategies as experience with education about dual use issues expands. If appropriate resources are available, both this and the previous conclusion should be well within the capacity of current online technologies.

  • Teaching strategies need to focus on active learning and clear learning objectives, while allowing for local adaptation and application.

IMPLEMENTING EDUCATION ABOUT DUAL USE ISSUES: PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS

Opportunities to Implement Education in Varied Settings

A recurring theme during the workshop was the variety of settings in which content about dual use issues could be introduced. This discussion

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
×

reflected the diversity of the participants and, as described in Chapter 3, the conditions in which education about dual use issues is currently taking place. Participants suggested that including dual use issues in general ethics discussions that cover a range of possible topics may provide a more general framework to reach a diverse potential audience, while including dual use in more specialized laboratory biosafety training may reach those researchers whose expertise and capabilities may be most directly relevant to preventing the nefarious use of life science knowledge. Workshop participants felt that both types of training offered fruitful paths to achieving the goal of responsible scientific conduct and that any opportunities to introduce the concept of dual use into ongoing educational discussions should be taken, whether this was through biosafety, bioethics, biosecurity, or other avenues. Some participants also suggested that the growing interest in expanding education about dual use issues, such as the proposal to require such education for all federally funded life scientists in the United States (NASBB 2007, Rocca 2008), might be a way to increase support for education about responsible conduct more generally.

Similarly, it was suggested that including discussions of potential dual use issues in multiple contexts and courses would help to reinforce the material. For example, references to case studies of research having potential dual use implications could be used during lectures on topical biological content such as DNA or protein synthesis. Many participants expressed the view that it would be essential to emphasize the positive potential of research, while linking to other topics in ways that can be engaging and perhaps provoke an emotional as well as an intellectual response. All of these comments again underscored the need to consider how to make cases relevant to the student’s own experience or interests and to tailor approaches rather than simply taking materials off the shelf.

Several of the groups also considered the educational stages at which information on dual use issues in life sciences research could be presented. Many participants felt that dual use issues could be appropriately introduced to multiple potential audiences, including undergraduates, laboratory technicians, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, and professionals and faculty members.4 The materials targeted to these groups might have different teaching goals and be presented using different teaching methods, but they would provide exposure to responsible conduct of science concepts, such as dual use, at several different career

4

There was also some discussion of introducing dual use issues with high school students, but it was not a focus for the workshop.

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
×

points. For example, it was suggested that undergraduate education provided an opportunity to reach a broader cross section of students, many of whom may not specialize in life sciences laboratory research but may go into related professional fields or may benefit from becoming part of a more informed public. In this regard, the SENCER project described in Box 4-1, which develops case study materials for active learning focused on how science and engineering is important to key societal issues, could be a model. Karen Oates, a longtime participant in the SENCER project suggested that dual use issues fit well within the type of problems that the case studies used to engage students.

At this stage, it was suggested that it was helpful to introduce ethical discussions by emphasizing the positive benefits and value of science. Several participants expressed serious concerns that emphasizing potential misuse could discourage individuals, especially younger students, from entering the field. Some participants felt that the issues might be more easily integrated into undergraduate education, before the pressures of increasing specialization and the demands of building a research career made it difficult to consider anything beyond one’s immediate academic interests.

At graduate and more specialized levels, participants felt that education on potential dual use issues had the capacity for greater impact but, for the reasons just cited, might be more difficult to integrate. At these stages, the importance of mentors, the research laboratory environment, and incentives also become more significant. Support from senior faculty for the importance of a culture of responsibility and for considering broader societal issues, including dual use, was cited as very important in creating an environment in which students would feel encouraged and enabled to think beyond their particular research.

One participant proposed a possible approach for introducing dual use issues to undergraduate and graduate students that synthesized many of the ideas discussed:

  • Introduce concepts in an incremental fashion as students become more advanced in their education and training.

  • Begin with general training in good laboratory safety practices, including basic biosafety.

  • Introduce ethical concepts more broadly, including discussions of the social responsibility of science and the role of science in society.

  • Introduce more specialized information on biosecurity and dual use concepts later in the process. One possible introduction point could be when students begin to do their own research.

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
×
  • Consider incorporating relevant examples of research demonstrating potential dual use implications as part of regular subject matter lectures.

  • Consider opportunities to extend modestly the existing discus-existing discussions of social, historical, environmental, and ethical aspects of science that occur in Advanced Placement (AP) biology or A-level high school courses, so that audiences receive additional information about the ethical implications of scientific research (such as the existence of potentially dual use research) before reaching a university.

The workshop participants also emphasized the importance of engaging multiple research communities when discussing education on dual use issues and the life sciences. In addition to basic and clinical scientists studying human pathogens, participants noted the importance of discussing these concepts with veterinary and agricultural researchers. Participants also noted that examples of research having potential dual use implications could be drawn from multiple areas of biology, not simply the highly dangerous pathogens that are the usual focus.5 As a result, it was suggested that students and scientists across the spectrum of the life sciences could broadly benefit from an awareness of the fundamental ethical norms of science, the concept of research with dual use potential, and how this issue might be relevant to them. There could also be valuable lessons for the design and implementation of education to be learned from the experience of other disciplines in addressing issues of ethics and responsible conduct (NAE 2009). Modern biological research also engages collaborators in mathematics, computer science, engineering, materials chemistry, and other fields, and these partners may receive training as students in somewhat different subsets of ethical issues.

Finding ways to incorporate partner communities in a discussion of the potential needs and opportunities for education on dual use issues may also be beneficial. The synthetic biology community and programs such as the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition were noted as examples. Synthetic biology has garnered substantial recent attention, and members of the field have made conscious efforts to consider the potential social, ethical, and security implications of their current research and future plans (Garfinkel et al. 2007, Bügl et al. 2006). The student teams participating in the iGEM competition are now required to consider the potential security implications of their projects and synthetic

5

See, for example, the report of a workshop at the Royal Society in 2006 for a discussion of research in a number of fields beyond those traditionally associated with biological weapons or bioterrorism, including immunology and neuroscience (Royal Society 2006).

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
×

biology more generally as part of the broader social implications of their work (see http://2010.igem.org/Security, accessed July 11, 2010).6

In addition to the array of life sciences and related research communities, the Warsaw workshop emphasized the importance of engaging education experts. Designing effective programs to discuss ethical issues in the life sciences, including implications of dual use research, requires not only decisions on the content to be taught but also on the process employed to teach and assess it. An important aspect of the Warsaw workshop was its effort to combine subject matter experts in biosecurity and biosafety, practicing life scientists, and people with expertise in effective teaching and learning strategies.

Strategies to Develop Faculty and Instructors

One of the major gaps cited consistently by participants was a lack of faculty and instructors able to provide education about dual use issues. This reflects the fact that at present relatively few professors are themselves aware of dual use issues, so increasing the number of faculty trained to teach about these issues would be necessary if education is to be expanded. Participants discussed strategies to fill the gap by engaging and supporting faculty or instructors, including the development and presentation of materials. Participants agreed that the most effective teachers are those who are expert, authentic, and enthusiastic about the material they are conveying. In addition to expanding training opportunities for faculty, participants suggested employing team-teaching methods or drawing on guest lecturers with specific expertise.

Participants also highlighted the possibility of identifying and supporting “champions” to carry initiatives forward, form connections, and engage additional interested participants. Some suggested identifying well-regarded faculty at important national or regional universities and bringing them into the proposed online networks created through resource centers and clearinghouses to facilitate “local” content and applications.

Participants heard about several models from biosafety, bioethics, and general science education that are in use or could be adapted to develop faculty and instructors. At the time of the Warsaw workshop,

6

The website contains a box suggesting that “as a participant in iGEM, there are three things you can do right now to help us secure our science:

  • Include something in your project description and presentations that demonstrates that you have thought about how others could misuse your work

  • Contribute to community discussions on what needs to go into a code against the use of our science for hostile purposes (see A Community Response)

  • Look into what security provisions, such as laws and regulations, are already in place in your country (see Working within the Law).”

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
×

Pamela Lupton-Bowers was in the process of revamping the train-the-trainer program at the World Health Organization to align with the new focus on biorisk management that includes both biosafety and laboratory biosecurity (WHO 2006; see also discussion in Chapter 1). The traditional program—described by another participant as “death by PowerPoint”—has now been redesigned. The new program reflects concepts

based on the latest science and theory behind accelerated and adult learning. This highly interactive workshop builds the knowledge and skills of individuals who train and educate others in the biorisk management community. The workshop is intended to increase the number of qualified trainers able to support biorisk management globally (WHO 2010).

Participants in the workshop were expected to have some prior teaching/training experience and to be prepared to carry out at least two training sessions a year in their regions or countries. The first seminar was held in Amman, Jordan, in April 2010, and five more were planned throughout 2010 to reach all six of the WHO regions.

Another approach to faculty development has been created by Simon Whitby of the University of Bradford as part of the broader project on “Dual Use Bioethics” that includes the Education Module Resource described in Chapter 3. (An overview of the project may be found at its website: http://www.dual-usebioethics.net/, accessed July 11, 2010). This train-the-trainer program will take advantage of distance learning techniques and advanced videoconferencing capabilities at the University of Bradford to take relatively small groups of faculty through a series of lectures based on the EMR as well as a set of interactive scenarios designed to explore ethical dilemmas related to dual use research.

Working in a fully supported online learning community, participants will be able to communicate and interact with peers, developing their practice through sustained reflection and participation in a range of activities and scenarios. Participants will be encouraged to bring their own personal ideas and experiences to the course, sharing these with peers in order to contextualise their knowledge and understanding in ways that will help them meet the ethical challenges thrown up by dual-use (Bradford Disarmament Research Centre website 2010).

The project carried out its first short course in the fall of 2010.

A third approach is being undertaken as a follow-up to the Warsaw workshop by the National Research Council of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences with support from the Biosecurity Engagement Program of the Department of State. The project will adapt a model developed

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
×

to promote new, more effective methods of teaching in undergraduate biology. As described in Chapter 2, the Summer Institutes on Undergraduate Education in Biology (http://www.AcademiesSummerInstitute.org/, accessed July 11, 2010) have helped to train over 250 faculty members in effective methods of teaching, reaching over 100,000 students per year. The Summer Institutes bring approximately 40 life sciences faculty members together for a week devoted to learning about effective methods of teaching and developing innovative curricular materials that participants implement in their own classes in the following academic year. The Summer Institutes also seek to develop a sense of community among the participants and build a network of life sciences faculty devoted to high quality life sciences education (Pfund et al. 2009). The first step in the new project will be a small planning meeting in late 2010 or early 2011. The meeting will have two tasks: (1) to work on a general model for how such programs could be applied to education about dual use issues and adapted for different international contexts and (2) to design a first pilot-test institute. The first institute would be held in the Middle East/North Africa on the campus of a regional university or center with a strong commitment to improving science education. The project is seen as an opportunity to support education about dual use issues within the broader context of new methods of science teaching and general responsible conduct of research recommended in this report.

For all the approaches participants stressed the importance of including plans for post-training support, both for developing and implementing new methods and materials and for sharing lessons learned and best practices. It is worth noting that some models, such as the Summer Institutes, deliberately include small teams rather than single individuals from a given institution in order to enhance the chances of sustaining what is learned and a commitment to implementation is part of the selection process. The champions cited earlier in this section may also help to create and sustain a more hospitable climate for new content and methods. In addition to supporting work at home institutions, some models for building networks of faculty and instructors also bring graduates together after their training for special follow-up activities to reinforce what was learned, while others rely on the normal cycle of meetings that take place in a discipline or professional field to provide convening opportunities.

In keeping with the theme that different approaches will be effective in different situations, the workshop and the committee did not seek to identify a preferred approach. Promoting multiple channels for education about dual use issues seems most likely to reach the greatest variety of life scientists and produce the materials and methods most appropriate to particular settings.

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
×

Assessment and Evaluation of Courses and Materials

The workshop participants recognized that the success of educational materials and programs also have to be assessed to determine their impact and allow improvements to be made to their effectiveness. As discussed in Chapter 2, courses and materials need to be designed with the objectives and teaching goals clearly identified at the outset, followed by the selection of the most appropriate content and other details. This represents both good pedagogy and facilitates the assessment process.7 Some participants also commented that, with education about dual use issues at such an early stage, this was the time to begin thinking about assessment and evaluation, so that appropriate strategies and methods could be included from the beginning rather than after the fact. The current efforts to survey the availability of courses and modules also provided a useful if admittedly imperfect baseline against which to measure at least the basic objective of expanding the number and range of dual use education being offered.

There was not a clear consensus about the effectiveness of various assessment methods, and participants recognized that it remains difficult to measure changes in concepts such as “awareness” or even more difficult to demonstrate that any given education program has met the ultimate goal of preventing proliferation or terrorism. There was also concern that the current pressure for “metrics” from some private and government funding sources sometimes led to assessments focused on what could be readily measured rather than what truly mattered. A particular concern was the need to distinguish between collecting data on outputs, such as the number of students who took a course, and the more challenging measures of outcomes that largely relate to the issues discussed in Chapter 2 and of the even more elusive impacts that relate to the policy and other goals that the education seeks to achieve. Each is appropriate for certain purposes, but there was a recognition that only measuring outputs would not provide a meaningful assessment of whether the education is actually enhancing the culture of responsibility in the life sciences. There was also some concern that assessment not become so intrusive or burdensome that it would discourage either students or faculty from undertaking the new approaches and content.

In spite of the challenges associated with assessment of educational programs about life sciences research with dual use potential, participants felt that assessment would be feasible and could draw on some of the

7

An introduction to the enormous literature on program evaluation may be found in Wholey, Hatry, and Newcomer (2004). For a discussion of assessing learning outcomes, see NRC 2003b.

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
×

standard types of assessment instruments. As discussed in Chapter 2, suggested approaches to assessing students included:

  • Assessing factual knowledge with examination questions.

  • Using surveys of individuals to establish a baseline for monitoring and assessment. For example, surveys before and after a course/module can document immediate changes in awareness and views. Surveys could also be designed to provide longer-term feedback.

  • Assessing more abstract/broader goals of engagement and substantive reasoning with tutorials, group work, and essays.

Participants also suggested approaches for measuring the broader goal of expanding education about dual use issues that included:

  • Using surveys of the sort discussed in Chapter 3 to establish a baseline and then monitoring changes over time in areas such as:

    • How many syllabi are including the topics

    • How many textbooks make references

    • How many publications deal with the topics

    • How many modules or portions of courses are devoted to the topics

    • How many hits and downloads of various online resources

  • Monitoring changes in policy over time that could result from in-depth training at a variety of levels, although the causal connections may be hard to establish. This could include, for example, both adding and adapting a country’s regulations, grant processes, or educational policies and avoiding changes that would negatively affect science without adding to security.

  • Measuring awareness and understanding among the public and policy makers as a complement to assessments focused on the life sciences community.

Barriers to Implementation

The participants discussed a range of obstacles to implementing education about dual use issues. Perhaps the most serious, participants agreed, is the continued lack of awareness among practicing scientists about the concept of dual use or about the potential issues posed by research in the life sciences with dual use potential. Ironically, the fundamental purpose of education is to raise awareness and foster norms of responsible conduct, but until that happens, limited awareness frequently translates into limited support for including dual use issues in the curriculum. Some participants suggested that there was a particular gap between

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
×

developing and industrialized countries and that an awareness of dual use concerns seemed to correlate with the amount of life sciences research being conducted in a given country. Discussion group members also noted that, even where scientists were aware of the concept of research with dual use potential, many did not necessarily feel that the issue was relevant to them or posed risks with which they should be concerned.

In addition to the continuing problems posed by a lack of awareness, the participants discussed a number of other barriers that face any efforts to change the basic curriculum in the life sciences or to improve the way that science is taught. Each can be a serious obstacle and taken together they pose formidable challenges to expanding education about dual use issues. These barriers include, for example:

  • A crowded curriculum that makes it difficult to add new or additional material. This is a common problem in efforts to introduce education about responsible conduct, and it also affects efforts to expand the training that life scientists receive about other, increasingly relevant disciplines, such as physical sciences or mathematics and computer sciences. Dual use issues may find it hard to compete in what can seem a zero-sum battle for space in the curriculum.

  • Participants argued that, although the situation has changed in settings that have embraced inquiry-based learning approaches to science education, there still remain others where teaching is not highly valued among faculty members, especially at universities with a strong emphasis on research. In such cases, there may be few rewards for teaching and few incentives for faculty members to devote themselves to acquiring the kinds of skills that would enable them to introduce active learning approaches in their classrooms.

  • Students often feel pressure to focus on their research, especially as they move farther along into graduate study. Senior faculty and laboratory directors frequently convey this message, either directly or by suggestion, making it harder for students who might like to explore other ideas. A bad job market may compound the sense that anything beyond one’s immediate research is a distraction.

Another significant barrier that participants discussed was the variation in how new courses or modules are introduced into the curriculum. The process varies widely, from the very informal, in which a faculty member might need to do no more than gain permission from his or her department chair, through increasingly hierarchical structures that prescribe specific courses and even course content and may require approval at the highest levels of government to change. One participant, for example, stated that he would need formal permission from the Ministry of

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
×

Education in his country to introduce dual use issues. Participants saw this variety as further reinforcing the need to take approaches to education that could recognize and adapt to local and national contexts.

Conclusions

Based on its understanding of the courses and materials currently available, as described in Chapter 3, on additional material cited above and in Chapter 2, and on the discussions at the Warsaw meeting, the committee concluded that:

  • Incorporating education about dual use issues into the channels through which life scientists already receive their exposure to issues of responsible conduct—biosafety, bioethics and research ethics, and RCR—offers the greatest opportunity to reach the largest and most diverse range of students and professionals. Biosafety training reaches those with the most capabilities, knowledge, and motivation relevant to dual use. In addition, biosafety may be of particular interest for developing countries that are attempting to raise their overall standards of laboratory practices. Ethics and RCR are more general and may reach more people. The available evidence suggests that the use of multiple channels is already the most common approach.

  • If the approach above is taken, then growing interest in expanding education about dual use issues, such as a proposal being considered within the U.S. Government to require such education for all federally funded life scientists, might also be an opportunity to expand more general education about responsible conduct.

  • It will be important to reach out to other disciplines that are increasingly part of life sciences research—physical sciences, mathematics, and engineering—as part of education about dual use issues. There may also be useful ideas and lessons from how these fields provide education about ethical issues and the potential for misuse of scientific results.

  • Training opportunities to help faculty develop the skills, abilities and knowledge needed to teach dual use issues effectively are essential if education about dual use issues is to expand successfully.

  • There are several promising models for “train-the-trainer” programs on which to draw, but a common characteristic is the use of the experience to create a network among faculty members to support and sustain each other and to encourage expanded education.

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
×
  • It is important to consider appropriate approaches to assessment and evaluation of education about dual use issues early in the process of developing and implementing new courses and modules.

  • In addition to a lack of awareness of and engagement in dual use issues among life scientists, there are a number of obstacles to any effort to implement new content or teaching methods, such as competition for space in crowded curricula, pressures on students to focus on their research, and in some cases a general lack of support for teaching.

BROADER IMPLEMENTATION ISSUES

Background

Questions related to education about dual use issues can be considered part of the larger discussions and activities that have been taking place in the international scientific community about biosecurity. For example, examination of the roles of academies, scientific unions, and professional associations or the roles of governments and international organizations cuts across many specific issues (see, for example, the discussions in On Being a Scientist [NRC 2009a]). This section addresses a number of such issues in the particular context of expanding education about dual use issues worldwide, with a focus on the roles of scientific organizations, governments, and international agreements and organizations. The committee recognizes that the infrastructure to support a broader culture of responsibility in the life sciences includes other important institutions, such as journal and textbook publishers, colleges and universities, research institutes, and the private sector. But these are the three that the committee wants to highlight in this report, because they were featured in the discussions during the workshop in Warsaw and because each currently has significant opportunities to play a role in expanding education about dual use issues. Before that discussion, however, the report considers the perennial question of resources, which also introduces the role of funding bodies.

Financial Resources

As in many other discussions about expanding education about dual use issues, the need for resources, especially financial, emerges almost immediately (see, for example, NRC 2009f, AAAS 2008, and BWC 2008). In many countries, university administrators and faculty, who normally live in dread of “unfunded mandates,” are particularly stretched by the impact of the current financial crisis. It might not be particularly expen-

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
×

sive for a newly enthusiastic professor to develop a few sessions about dual use issues for an existing course or as a special side event, but if dual use issues are to become a regular part of the curriculum across the life sciences, much more substantial and sustained funding would be required. Among the needs cited by participants were funds to:

  • Develop new case studies and educational materials tailored to the research interests of scientists in different areas of the life sciences as well as to the interests and priorities of different countries.

  • Translate relevant existing case studies and educational materials into local languages.

  • Develop materials such as CDs or DVDs that could provide experiences similar to online interactions and engagement to those lacking reliable Internet access.

  • Support the creation of clearinghouses or resource centers, which could be linked to form an international network, where materials could be deposited, shared, and developed and vetted collaboratively.

  • Undertake meeting sessions, workshops, articles and other publicity to engage students and faculty through various scientific organizations and professional associations.

A common feature of many of these points is that implementation would require time for faculty and instructors (and in some cases administrators) to develop the new resources and programs. Underwriting time for similar purposes is a common practice for private and public funding bodies, suggesting a role that some are already playing.

Many participants acknowledged the important contribution that private funding, particularly from foundations in the United States and the United Kingdom, has made and continues to make in supporting the development and implementation of education about dual use issues. Much of the most creative work to engage the scientific community in biosecurity and dual use issues in the past decade has come as a result of the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Nuclear Threat Initiative, and the Wellcome Trust. But only the Wellcome Trust continues to support work on dual use issues; at present there are no major U.S. foundations with programs on dual use or broader biosecurity issues. And private organizations obviously cannot develop and implement the policies to support a greater role for education. Participants argued that national governments as well as regional and international organizations have essential roles in providing resources; this issue is discussed further below.

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
×

The Role of Scientific Organizations

The Warsaw meeting participants generally believed that scientific organizations could play valuable roles as partners in promoting and sustaining education about dual use issues, and could undertake mutually reinforcing activities to integrate education and awareness within the scientific community. One clear advantage is that scientific societies and other professional membership associations reach a significant base of working scientists in relevant areas of the life sciences. Their engagement provides authoritative and credible endorsement for the importance of addressing the challenges dual use issues pose. Such messages may also be more acceptable to scientists from such a source than from governments.

Participants acknowledged that capacity varied greatly among the organizations and that the splintering of the life sciences among many separate groups at the national and international level made the task of engaging “the life sciences community” more difficult. A number of these organizations are already active in biosecurity, however, as their roles as conveners of the workshop illustrated. Chapter 1 described some of the activities, and more detail is available in Appendix C.

These organizations operate at the national, regional, and international level, as well as serving particular scientific fields. Even if nationally based, the organizations may have a significant international membership. The American Society for Microbiology (ASM), for example, includes over 43,000 individual microbiologists, approximately 30 percent of whom are international members. Regional and international unions and other federations of multiple societies can serve wider geographical and disciplinary representation and may effectively play diplomatic roles in conveying broad messages to their national members. Materials produced by one society may also be distributed for adaptation and use by others via these federations. In this way, smaller members may benefit from existing resources generated by larger organizations. The International Union of Microbiological Societies (IUMS), for example, includes over 100 societies in 65 countries, of which ASM is one of the largest members. Similar unions exist in molecular biology (International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, IUBMB), chemistry (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, IUPAC), and other related fields. The IUPAC Multiple Uses of Chemicals was described in Chapter 3, and as announced during the Warsaw workshop, the first IUMS regional course for graduate students and practicing professionals from developing countries, “Antimicrobial Resistance in Bacteria, Fungi and Viruses,” held in Singapore in June 2010, included a short session on dual use issues led by Professor Geoffrey Smith, a member of the workshop organizing committee (http://iums.org/Outreach/index.html, accessed June 20, 2010).

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
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As an umbrella international association linking multiple science academies, the IAP has also been influential in encouraging its members to address dual use issues through the efforts of its Biosecurity Working Group. Participants singled out the 2005 IAP Statement on Biosecurity (IAP 2005) as another useful resource to build local scientific engagement and commitment. In addition to IAP, other umbrella scientific organizations may be valuable partners in efforts to increase the extent to which social responsibility and ethics training are incorporated into the life sciences. The International Council for Science (ICSU), which includes both national academies of science and scientific unions as its members, also has a Committee on the Freedom and Responsibility of Science.

Workshop participants discussed other contributions that they believed scientific organizations could make to education and the ways to promote and sustain such engagement. Participants suggested making use of existing fora, such as scientific conferences, science education conferences, and other meetings to discuss dual use issues and foster engagement. Activities will need to be tailored to local and regional needs, and different approaches may be appropriate to engaging scientists in different countries. Participants thus envisioned a collection of activities at several scales, in which local and/or discipline-specific organizations might generate material relevant for their particular audiences, regional networking could be used to promote education about aspects of safety and security, particularly as linked to the development of standards and best practices, international activities and partners could lend support to local and regional activities, and workshops could be encouraged to share and disseminate materials and to build networks and capacity.

The potential of codes of conduct as education tools has already been mentioned, but it should be noted here that a number of professional societies and unions have codes of conduct that include biosecurity and dual use issues. ASM, for example, has long devoted attention to the ethical issues around biological weapons and more recently bioterrorism. Interestingly, it was participation in the 2005 BWC meetings related to codes of conduct that provided the impetus for IUMS and IUBMB to develop codes of ethics for their organizations and members.8

National academies of science can also draw on their convening power to organize meetings and may inform the policies of governments by providing advice through studies and reports or other advisory capacities. Warsaw participants highlighted the role of science academies as sources of advice for their governments and noted the value of scientific assessments conducted by academies in giving credibility to the impor-

8

The IUMS code may be found at http://www.iums.org/about/Codeethics.html. The IUBMB code may be found at http://www.iubmb.org/index.php?id=155&0=.

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
×

tance of dual use issues in biology. This includes studies, such as the Fink and Lemon-Relman reports (so-called after the chairs of the committees that produced the reports, produced by the National Research Council of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences [NRC 2004a, 2006]), and reports from the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities (Israel Academy 2008) and the French Academy of Sciences (Korn, Berche, and Binder 2008). A number of academies have also conducted workshops or other convening activities, such as two regional meetings carried out by the Ugandan National Academy of Sciences (UNAS 2008, 2009) and a workshop by the Chinese Academy of Sciences in cooperation with the OECD in 2008. In 2006, The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) undertook to develop a code of conduct on biosecurity at the request of the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. KNAW convened a Biosecurity Workgroup as well as a focus group of researchers and policymakers to provide input into the process. The code articulates guiding principles to inform responsible conduct. Of particular relevance to the question of education is the section on “Raising Awareness,” which recommends in part to “devote specific attention in the education and further training of professionals in the life sciences to the risks of misuse of biological, biomedical, biotechnological and other life sciences research and the constraints imposed by the btwc [sic] and other regulations in that context” (KNAW 2007:11).9 Following the release of the code in October 2007, the KNAW organized presentations and debates, and it continues to follow up on the dissemination activities. A list of a number of these activities involving academies and unions appears at the end of Appendix C.

Biosafety associations represent another important type of professional organization. The International Federation of Biosafety Associations, IFBA, provides the same umbrella function as ICSU and the scientific unions do for the disciplinary societies. Several countries have also recently established national biosafety councils and/or national biosafety associations or have begun to consider biosecurity issues within the framework of biosafety organizations. For example, Morocco recently created a National Commission for Biosafety and Biosecurity, and the country hosted the second Biosafety and Biosecurity International Conference (BBIC09) in April 2009 in partnership with the Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi and the Royal Scientific Society of Jordan.10 The Brazilian Biosafety Association (ANBio) initiated biosecurity activities in 2007 and has organized several training courses for workers in BSL-2 and BSL-3

9

The code may be found at http://www.knaw.nl/publicaties/pdf/20071092.pdf.

10

Further information about the regional BBIC may be found at http://www.biosafetyandbiosecurity-2009.org/.

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
×

laboratories; a Latin America Laboratory Biosafety and Biosecurity Conference was held in May 2008. In the Philippines, the Department of Health initiated a National Laboratory Biosafety and Biosecurity Action Plan Task Force in 2006, and the Philippine Biosafety and Biosecurity Association was established in 2007. Its Inaugural Symposium on Advocacy and Awareness on Biosafety and Biosecurity was held in March 2009 in association with several Philippine government agencies and with the U.S. Department of State Biosecurity Engagement Program. The Pakistan Biological Safety Association was established in 2007 under the Pakistan Society for Microbiology and has organized several laboratory safety workshops. These efforts and organizations can provide alternative avenues, beyond university-level academic courses, to address training and education on the potential dual use of life sciences research.

The Role of Governments

Most of the emphasis in this report has been on the “bottom up” approach that so far characterizes most of the efforts to expand the attention given to dual use issues in life sciences education. Participants also discussed how important some forms of “top down” support from governments would be to complement and help sustain the “bottom up” activities and initiatives. Perhaps the most obvious role, given the many needs identified during the course of the workshop, is financial support. The sums are not very large relative to other expenditures, for example, on science education, and certainly not relative to the expenditures that a few nations such as the United States are making in biodefense. But over the next several years they are likely to make the difference in whether the promising initiatives, described in Chapter 3 and expanded by the workshop participants, can be increased and, just as important, sustained.

Governments can play other roles in encouraging education about dual use issues. The United States offers a number of examples. As cited in Chapter 1, the 2009 National Strategy for Countering Biological Threats gives a prominent role to scientists to foster and sustain a culture of responsibility (White House 2009). The NSABB has offered general guidance through its Strategic Framework for Outreach and Education on Dual Use Issues (NSABB 2008). Since the 1990s the NIH has made RCR education a requirement for all student traineeships and postdoctoral fellowships, although it does not prescribe how the training will be carried out nor collect data on the number of students actually trained. The requirement announced in 2009 by the National Science Foundation (NSF) that all undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who receive NSF support to do their research must receive RCR education is an even broader mandate. The Select Agent Program that regulates

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
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research with a list of biological agents and toxins has requirements for laboratory security training, and there are proposals to expand this to include broader concepts of responsible conduct and personnel management (NRC 2009e).

As already mentioned, the NSABB and the U.S. State Department (reflecting wider interagency agreement) have proposed that education about dual use issues be mandatory (NSABB 2007, Rocca 2008). Participants in the Warsaw workshop, as in other international discussions (Mancini and Revill 2008, 2009; NRC 2009f), disagreed about the advisability and feasibility of imposing an educational requirement. The major advantage cited was the pressure this would provide to overcome the many barriers and impediments to expanding education beyond the current limited base. Some of the resistance to the idea was philosophical, reflecting a general objection to such government requirements. Some of the resistance was practical—given the current lack of faculty and materials, there was concern that mandates could not be successfully implemented. A few participants also noted that education in some countries is so clearly the responsibility of local or state/regional governments that national mandates would be futile (see also Garraux [2010] for a discussion of the example of Switzerland). And as described above, for some the wide array of methods by which courses are developed and adopted nationally, from the local and informal to the highly centralized, underscored the need to be flexible and to produce materials that can be adapted to a range of circumstances, even within a particular country.

Some participants also suggested other ways in which governments could encourage broader adoption of education on dual use issues short of a general mandate, such as by linking such education to funding agency requirements in ways analogous to the NIH and NSF RCR requirements that would target key audiences, or by using the accreditation process or other legal structures that govern degree requirements in some countries. Some participants suggested that research funders consider incentives as well as requirements, such as funding innovative efforts to train faculty or develop resources.

The Role of International Agreements and Organizations

This report has already given substantial attention to the contributions that the work of international organizations, as well as the implementation of international agreements, is already making to support for biosecurity, and, in a number of cases, to education about dual use issues. Two organizations, the WHO and UNESCO, along with the processes related to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, stand out. WHO,

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
×

through its studies of dual use issues (WHO 2005, 2007), has provided an important international endorsement of their importance that takes them beyond the realm of “just” security. Its role in biosafety training is even more important for the future of education of a broad research community that includes laboratory technical personnel. So far the role of UNESCO has been relatively limited, though staff members from the organization have participated in a number of international meetings, including the Warsaw workshop. And the organization was a co-sponsor of a general workshop on dual use issues at the Polish Academy of Sciences in 2007 (Polish Academy 2007). Given its longstanding support for science in the developing world and its many activities in both bioethics and broader science ethics, this is an organization that many participants hoped would become more engaged in the future.

One theme that emerged clearly in the discussions was the convening capacity of such organizations and the contributions that they can make to encouraging coordinated and sustained support from national governments. In addition, the upcoming BWC review conference in late 2011 was cited frequently as an example of opportunity to build upon the success of the 2005 and 2008 intersessional meetings and encourage broad support by member states for the initiatives cited in the reports of those meetings and at the 2006 review conference (BWC 2005, 2006, 2008). The report of the 2008 BWC states parties meeting specifically offers an opening:

States Parties are encouraged to inform the Seventh Review Conference of, inter alia, any actions, measures or other steps that they may have taken on the basis of the discussions at the 2008 Meeting of Experts and the outcome of the 2008 Meeting of States Parties, in order to facilitate the Seventh Review Conferences consideration of the work and outcome of these meetings and its decision on any further action, in accordance with the decision of the Sixth Review Conference (BWC/CONF.VI/6, Part III, paragraph 7 (e)). (BWC 2008)

Discussions are taking place among some of the organizations active in education about dual use issues about how best to take advantage of the review conference to garner further support and commitments from states parties (Sture and Minehata, in press).

Conclusions

Based on its understanding of the materials and teaching approaches currently available as described in Chapter 3, on additional material cited above and in other chapters, and on the discussions at the Warsaw meeting, the committee concluded that:

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
×
  • Scientific organizations as well as professional associations are playing leading roles in developing international support for education about dual use issues. There are significant opportunities to build on this work to carry out more systematic and coordinated efforts.

  • To enable dual use issues to become a regular part of the curriculum across the life sciences, significant sustained funding will be required to fill the gaps, such as the need for new materials in multiple languages, identified in the workshop and other reports.

  • Private sources such as foundations have played and can continue to play an important role in supporting the development and implementation of education about dual use issues. Beyond any private resources, the sustained support of governments will be necessary.

  • Governments can also play a number of other roles besides providing funds to encourage the expansion of education about dual use issues.

  • Two international organizations have particularly important roles in encouraging education about dual use issues. WHO has a particular role in biosafety, while UNESCO could make significant contributions through its work in bioethics. In addition, the upcoming Seventh Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention in 2011 will provide an opportunity for member states to build on prior work and take affirmative steps in support of education about dual use issues.

SUMMING UP: THE COMMITTEE’S RECOMMENDATIONS

In Chapter 3 the committee presented a number of its findings about the extent of current education about dual use issues internationally and the availability of online materials to support it. This has chapter offered a variety of conclusions that the committee reached based on the discussions at the Warsaw work and other material about gaps in current capabilities and needs that need to be filled if dual use issues are to become more included in the education of life scientists around the world. It also offered conclusions about some of the ways the gaps could be filled and the needs met. This section presents the committee’s recommendations for what it believes will be most important for implementing more and more effective education on dual use issues for the life sciences community. Although the findings led to conclusions, not all of the conclusions led to recommendations because the committee wanted to focus attention on those it found to be the most important to achieving the larger goal.

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
×

General Approach

An introduction to dual use issues should be part of the education of every life scientist.

  • Except in specialized cases (particular research or policy interests), this education should be incorporated within broader coursework and training rather than carried out via stand-alone courses. Appropriate channels include biosafety, bioethics and research ethics, and professional standards (i.e., RCR), as well as inclusion of examples of research with dual use potential in general life sciences courses.

  • Insights from research on learning and effective teaching should inform development of materials, approaches to teaching students, and to preparing faculty.

Specific Actions

Achieving the broad goal of making dual use issues part of broader education will require a number of specific actions. They may be undertaken separately by different organizations, but there will be substantial benefit if there is an effort to coordinate across the initiatives and share successful practices and lessons learned. Resources will be needed to ensure that the initiatives are carried out at an appropriate scale and scope.

The workshop participants and the committee did not explore the implementation of any specific recommendations in sufficient depth to prescribe a particular mechanism or path forward. Instead, reflecting the diversity and variety of situations in which education about dual use issues will be carried out, the previous sections of this chapter have laid out of a number of options that could be used to implement each of the recommendations below. Some of the options, such as the models for train-the-trainer programs, are sufficiently well developed—or already under way—that implementation could be relatively straightforward if sustained support is available to expand their scale and scope. In other cases, such as developing evaluation and assessment methods, substantial additional work will be required to plan and implement any systematic effort.

  • Develop an international open access repository of materials that can be tailored to and adapted for the local context, perhaps as a network of national or regional repositories.

    • The repository should be under the auspices of the scientific community rather than governments, although support and resources from governments will be needed to implement the teaching locally.

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
×
  • Materials should be available in a range of languages.

  • Materials should interface with existing databases and repositories of educational materials dedicated to science education.

  • Develop additional case studies to address broader segments of the life sciences community, with a focus on making the case studies relevant to the student/researcher.

  • Design methods for commenting and vetting of materials by the community (such as an appropriately monitored Wikipedia model) so they can be improved by faculty, instructors and experts in science education.

  • Build networks of faculty and instructors through train–the-trainer programs, undertaking this effort if possible in cooperation with scientific unions and professional societies and associations.

  • Develop a range of methods to assess outcomes and, where possible, impact. These should include qualitative approaches as well as quantitative measures, for example, of learning outcomes.

REFERENCES

AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science). 2008. Professional and Graduate-Level Programs on Dual Use Research and Biosecurity for Scientists Working in the Biological Sciences: Workshop Report. Washington, DC: American Association for the Advancement of Science. Available at http://cstsp.aaas.org/files/AAAS_workshop_report_education_of_dual_use_life_science_research.pdf.

Bradford Disarmament Research Centre Website. 2010. Applied Dual-Use Biosecurity Education: Online Distance Learning Module 20 Masters Level Credits. Available at http://www.dual-usebioethics.net/.

Bügl, H., J. P. Danner, R. J. Molinari, J. Mulligan, D. A. Roth, R. Wagner, B. Budowle, R. M. Scripp, J. A. L. Smith, S. J. Steele, G. Church, and D. Endy. 2006. A Practical Perspective on DNA Synthesis and Biological Security. Presentation at the International Consortium for Polynucleotide Synthesis. December 4, 2006. Available at http://pgen.us/PPDSS.htm.

BWC (Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention). 2005. Report of the Meeting of the States Parties. Geneva: United Nations.

BWC. 2006. Sixth Review Conference of the States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention. Final Document. Geneva: Biological Weapons Convention.

BWC. 2008. Report of the Meeting of States Parties. Geneva: United Nations.

Garfinkel, M. S., D. Endy, G. L. Epstein, and R. M. Friedman. 2007. Synthetic genomics: Options for governance. Industrial Biotechnology 3(4):333–365.

Garraux, F. 2010. Linking life sciences with disarmament in Switzerland. Pp.57-74 in Education and Ethics in the Life Sciences: Strengthening the Prohibition on Biological Weapons. B. Rappert, ed. Canberra, Australia: Australian National University E Press.

IAP. 2005. Statement on Biosecurity. Available at http://www.interacademies.net/CMS/About/3143.aspx>.

Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. 2008. Biotechnological Research in an Age of Terrorism. Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
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KNAW (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences). 2007. A Code of Conduct for Biosecurity. Report by the Biosecurity Working Group. Amsterdam: Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Available at: http://www.knaw.nl/cfdata/publicaties/detail.cfm?boeken__ordernr=20071092.

Korn, H., P. Berche, and P. Binder. 2008. Les Menaces Biologiques—Biosécurité et Responsabilité des Scientifiques. Paris: French Academy of Sciences. Available at http://www.academiesciences.fr/publications/rapports/rapports_html/rapportPUF_Korn.htm.

Mancini, G., and J. Revill. 2008. Fostering the Biosecurity Norm: Biosecurity Education for the Next Generation of Life Scientists. Como, Italy: Landau Network Centro Volta and Bradford Disarmament Research Centre.

Mancini, G., and J. Revill. 2009. Promoting Sustainable Education and Awareness Raising on Biosecurity and Dual Use. Como, Italy: Landau Network Centro Volta and Bradford Disarmament Research Centre.

NAE (National Academy of Engineering). 2009. Ethics Education and Scientific and Engineering Research: What’s Been Learned? What Should Be Done? Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

NRC (National Research Council). 2003b. Evaluating and Improving Undergraduate Teaching in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

NRC. 2004a. Biotechnology Research in an Age of Terrorism. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

NRC. 2006. Globalization, Biotechnology, and the Future of the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

NRC. 2009a. On Being a Scientist, 3rd edition. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

NRC. 2009e. Responsible Research with Biological Select Agents and Toxins. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

NRC. 2009f. 2nd International Forum on Biosecurity: Report of an International Meeting, Budapest, Hungary, March 30-April 2, 2008. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

NSABB (National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity). 2007. Proposed Framework for the Oversight of Dual Use Life Sciences Research: Strategies for Minimizing the Potential Misuse of Research Information. Available at <http://www.biosecurityboard.gov/news.asp>.

NSABB. 2008. Strategic Plan for Outreach and Education on Dual Use Issues. Available at <http://oba.od.nih.gov/biosecurity/biosecurity_documents.html>.

Polish Academy of Sciences. 2007. The Advancement of Science and the Dilemma of Dual Use: Why We Can’t Afford to Fail. Available at http://www.english.pan.pl/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=236:international-conference-on-dual-use&catid=57:archive&Itemid=88.

Pfund, C., S. Miller, K. Brenner, P. Bruns, A. Chang, D. Ebert-May, A. P. Fagen, J. Gentile, S. Gossens, I. M. Khan, J. B. Labov, C. M. Pribbenow, M. Susman, L. Tong, R. Wright, R. T. Yuan, W. B. Wood, and J. Handelsman. 2009. Summer institute to improve university science teaching. Science 342:470-471.

Rocca, C. 2008. Statement by H.E. Ambassador Christina Rocca, U.S. Representative to the Biological Weapons Convention, to the Annual Meeting of the Biological Weapons Convention States Parties, Geneva, Switzerland, December 1, 2008.

Royal Society. 2006. Report of the international workshop on science and technology developments relevant to the BTWC. London: Royal Society.

Smallwood, K. 2009. Biosecurity, Biosafety and Dual Use Risks: Trends, Challenges, and Innovative Solutions. Report. Como, Italy: Landau Network Centro Volta and Bradford Disarmament Research Centre.

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
×

Sture, J., and M. Minehata. In press. Dual-use education for life scientists: Mapping the current global landscape and developments. Report of the Bradford meeting, July 2010. Bradford, UK: Bradford Disarmament Research Centre.

UNAS (Uganda National Academy of Science). 2008. Promoting Biosafety and Biosecurity Within the Life Sciences: An International Workshop in East Africa. Kampala: Uganda National Academy of Sciences.

UNAS. 2009. Establishing and Promoting Standards and Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) for Running Safe, Secure, and Sustainable Laboratories in Africa. Kampala: Uganda National Academy of Sciences.

White House. 2009. National Strategy for Countering Biological Threats. Available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/National_Strategy_for_Countering_BioThreats.pdf.

WHO (World Health Organization). 2005. Life Science Research: Opportunities and Risks for Public Health. Geneva: World Health Organization. Available at http://www.who.int/csr/resources/publications/deliberate/WHO_CDS_CSR_LYO_2005_20.pdf.

WHO. 2006. Biorisk Management: Laboratory Biosecurity Guidance. Geneva: WHO.

WHO. 2007. Scientific Working Group on Life Science Research and Global Health Security: Report of the First Meeting. Geneva: WHO. Available at http://www.who.int/csr/resources/publications/deliberate/WHO_CDS_EPR_2007_4.

WHO. 2010. WHO Biorisk Management Advanced Trainer Programme: Concept Sheet. Photocopy.

Wholey, J. S., H. P. Hatry, and K. E. Newcomer. 2004. Handbook of Practical Program Evaluation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Suggested Citation:"4 Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies." National Research Council. 2011. Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12958.
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The Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences workshop was held to engage the life sciences community on the particular security issues related to research with dual use potential. More than 60 participants from almost 30 countries took part and included practicing life scientists, bioethics and biosecurity practitioners, and experts in the design of educational programs.

The workshop sought to identify a baseline about (1) the extent to which dual use issues are currently being included in postsecondary education (undergraduate and postgraduate) in the life sciences; (2) in what contexts that education is occurring (e.g., in formal coursework, informal settings, as stand-alone subjects or part of more general training, and in what fields); and (3) what online educational materials addressing research in the life sciences with dual use potential already exist.

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