Collaborations to Advance Understanding of Science and Ethics — Phase II
Support for biomedical research is dependent on public understanding of how research is conducted and its vital importance for human health. The rapid pace of scientific innovation has resulted in new bioethical challenges that highlight both the need for access to accurate scientific information as well as the importance of rational civic discourse. The Collaborations to Advance the Understanding of Science and Ethics (CAUSE) – Phase II program addresses an unmet need for innovative educational resources that prepare science and health teachers to explore the ethical implications of research with their students. The long-term goals are to increase public awareness of the processes of health-related research and to foster understanding of the relationship of ethics to science. CAUSE teaching materials are designed to increase student awareness of the social contexts in which research occurs demonstrate the importance of understanding science content and the process of research and promote the development of skills required to analyze ethical issues in the health sciences. This Phase II grant supports the transition to self-sustaining status and national dissemination of the expertise and materials developed in Phase I. The CAUSE products – an ethics primer and three curriculum units (HIV Vaccine Clinical Trials Stem Cell Research and Genetic Testing) – will be disseminated through two major methods. First an online course for educators will be developed in collaboration with the University of Washington Distance Learning Department. Once created pilot-tested and revised this course will become self-sustaining and available to all U.S. teachers. Second CAUSE will offer educators professional development in various workshops/institutes to ensure that teachers will use the program resources as well as train their colleagues in utilizing the materials. Dissemination will capitalize on the investment made in Phase I effectively leveraging the work already complete. Educational use of the CAUSE program products will assist in the preparation of citizens who can analyze the ethical and scientific dimensions of future policy decisions about research-related issues as well as their own health choices.