logo
"Without the freedom to ask difficult questions, research is not really free."

Ethics Week 2019 offers the VUB research community a unique chance to respond to changes in research ethics – changes that are themselves a result of our changing world. Ethics Week offers a series of events around ethical themes that are of interest to the VUB’s younger and more experienced researchers, and to its research policy makers:
 

  • For young researchers, the events provide a chance to discuss their research and its ethical implications.
  • For more experienced researchers, the events will provide insights into changing obligations, and an understanding of how to support other researchers.
  • For policy makers, the events are an opportunity to understand what it is like for researchers to put principles into practice, and to explain the changes that are occurring.

The events consist of a kick-off session and a series of ethics lunches around important research ethics themes.

 

Programme

Monday 2nd December 2019 - 12:00-14:00

Campus Etterbeek - Promotiezaal
Kick-off Session: Research that counts: can research assessments take account of more than just publications?

‘Publish or perish’ has for many years been the sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of academic researchers. However, a more accurate, and perhaps more disturbing slogan might be ‘Perform or perish’: researchers are held to account for their activities by a limited range of quantitative indicators, such as journal impact factors, that put them under pressure to perform. Is this really the best way for a university to contribute to a better society?  

This session is a chance for the VUB community to reflect on quantitative indicators, and ask critical questions about their role in our academic community. The session provides an opportunity to reflect on the key questions around evaluation of research outputs: 

  • Can we evaluate the true worth of scientific research? What do core concepts like excellent and relevant mean, and are they properly taken up in quantitative criteria? 
  • What effects do evaluation systems have on research itself? How can evaluation contribute to encouraging research that is valuable and innovative, and which is able to ask challenging questions? 
  • Is quantitative evaluation really the best way to evaluate science? Can we do without quantitative evaluation, or indeed without evaluation altogether? 
  • What can we do about all this? What alternatives to the current evaluation models exist, and how much leeway does a university such as the VUB have to implement alternative models? 

Go to registration

 

Tuesday 3rd December 2019 - 12:00-14:00

VUB Campus Etterbeek - Groene Zaal
Lunch Session 1: Thinking Machines: the ethics of Artificial Intellingence

Artificial Intelligence is a technology that challenges some of the basic frameworks we use to think about the world: can a machine make ethical decisions? Should robots have rights? Is artificial intelligence the next stage in evolution? 

This session takes a practical approach and asks whether our ethical frameworks are adequate to address the challenges that artificial intelligence presents. We will look at some major funding calls in artificial intelligence, and ask how we as researchers would address the ethical issues that arise. We welcome proposals from researchers for funding calls we could address during the session.  

Go to registration

 

Tuesday 3rd December 2019 - 13:00-15:00

VUB Campus Jette - ATRIUM
Lunch Session 2 (Jette): Gene genius: CRISPR-Cas and gene editing in the lab

‘Game changer’; ‘disruptor’; ‘spectacular’. The hype around CRISPR-Cas and gene editing techniques is enormous. For many researchers, the potential is also real: from ‘fixing’ disease-causing mutations in humans, to making crops more resilient, and managing destructive insects. However, any technology with great potential brings risks with it: the gene therapy field is still recovering from a clinical trial in the 1990s that went wrong and led to the death of a patient. This session asks how we can manage the risks and the potential of medical applications of CRISPR-Cas 

  • What effects can changing one part of a genome have other parts of the genome – and can we predict these effects? 
  • CRISPR-Cas is cheap and accessible: but is that a good thing? 
  • Can we manage the expectations about what CRISPR-Cas can achieve? 
  • How do we regulate new technologies – and can the regulation keep up? 

Go to registration

 

Tuesday 3rd December 2019 - 19:00-21:00
Science Bar: Do you like golden bananas?

We eat 100 billion bananas a year!

  1. Bananas are a crucial part of many peoples’ diets around the world: in Uganda, the word matooke means both ‘banana’ and ‘food’
  2. Bananas are nutritious: they are a source of vitamin C, potassium, and vitamin C.   

But what if we could make bananas still more nutritious? By genetically modifying bananas, it is possible to enrich them with beta-carotene, which helps our bodies produce vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency is a major nutritional challenge in several countries, including Uganda3. Suppose we could modify the bananas the people in Uganda already eat every day: couldn’t we address the vitamin A deficiency this way? Why not replace peoples’ staple food with a more nutritious version? What is more important: ensuring that people have enough of the right kind of food, or respecting the way they grow and eat the foods they already produce? What are the risks involved in changing the food people have access to?  

More information coming soon!
Important: this activity will be organised in Dutch.

 

Wednesday 4th December 2019 - 18:00-20:00

VUB Campus Jette
Lunch Session 3: Ethics and Gerontology

The students from the Research Master's Programme in Gerontological Sciences will organise a session on ethics questions in their research.
More info coming soon.

Go to registration

 

VUB Campus Etterbeek
Take a position! Positionality and diversity in research

As researchers, we want our discoveries to help people – but what assumptions do we make about the people involved in our projects? And can we overcome those assumptions? 

Every research project involves a small army of people – not just research participants, but research assistants, students, and the people who might ultimately use the research results. Despite our best intentions, it’s difficult to avoid making assumptions about the people involved. Sometimes those assumptions can even be dangerous: for example, car crash test dummies are based on male bodies, which means car safety neglects the needs of half the population. 

This session looks at how we as researchers can deal with the (inevitable) assumptions we make based on our own social positions and our relationship to the people we work with. Our panellists will each pose a dilemma based on their experience of working with people, and the audience will get the chance to help construct a solution. 

This is an interdisciplinary session: researchers from four different faculties will be involved. 

Go to registration

 

Thursday 5th December 2019 - 12:00-14:00

VUB Campus Etterbeek
Lunch Session 4: Ethics in a globalised environment

During this session, the VUB International Relations and Mobility Office will present its new Ethics Reflection Group for Internationalisation. 

Go to registration

 

Thursday 5th December 2019 - 12:00-14:00

VUB Campus Jette
Lunch Session 5: Ethics and Biomedical Sciences

The students from the Research Master's Programme in Biomedical Sciences will organise a session on ethics questions in their research.

Go to registration

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Registrations

maandag 2 december, 12:00

Ethics Week 2019 - Kick-Off Session "Research that Counts: can research assessments take account of more than just publications?"

 

 

dinsdag 3 december, 12:00

Ethics Week 2019 - Lunch Session 1 "Thinking machines: the ethics of Artificial Intelligence"

Artificial Intelligence is a technology that challenges some of the basic frameworks we use to think about the world: can a machine make ethical decisions? Should robots have rights? Is artificial intelligence the next stage in evolution?  This session takes a practical approach...

Artificial Intelligence is a technology that challenges some of the basic frameworks we use to t...

dinsdag 3 december, 13:00

Ethics Week 2019 - Lunch Session 2 (Jette) "Gene genius: CRISPR-Cas and gene editing in the lab"

  ‘Game changer’; ‘disruptor’; ‘spectacular’.The hype around CRISPR-Cas and gene editing techniques is enormous. For many researchers, the potential is also real: from ‘fixing’ disease-causing mutations in humans, to making crops more resilient, and managing destructive insects. ...

  ‘Game changer’; ‘disruptor’; ‘spectacular’.The hype around CRISPR-Cas and gene e...

dinsdag 3 december, 19:00

Ethics Week 2019 - Science Bar "Lust jij gouden bananen?"

Wetenschap tussen Pot & Pint!

Wetenschap tussen Pot & Pint!

woensdag 4 december, 12:00

Ethics week 2019 - Lunch Session 3 "Ethics & Gerontology"

The students from the Research Master's Programme in Gerontological Sciences will organise a session on ethics questions in their research. More info coming soon.          

The students from the Research Master's Programme in Gerontological Sciences will organise a sess...

woensdag 4 december, 18:00

Ethics Week 2019 - "Take a position! Positionality and Diversity in Research"

  As researchers, we want our discoveries to help people – but what assumptions do we make about the people involved in our projects? And can we overcome those assumptions?  Every research project involves a small army of people – not just research participants, but research ass...

  As researchers, we want our discoveries to help people – but what assumptions do we make ab...