Problem Based Learning (PBL) Course Addressing "Fractious Problems" in Science and Technology

TitleProblem Based Learning (PBL) Course Addressing "Fractious Problems" in Science and Technology
Publication TypeSyllabi
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsBeckford, GH, Berry, RM, Queen, EIIL, Kinlaw, K, Newstetter, WC, Wolf, L
Date Published12/2013
PublisherNational Academy of Engineering, Online Ethics Center
AbstractThis resource describes a an experimental, graduate-level, interdisciplinary and inter-institutional, problem-based learning (PBL) course addressing "fractious problems" in science and technology. The course was offered in fall 2009 and 2010. The course offerings and related research effort were supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Ethics Education in Science and Engineering (EESE) program. In each course offering, graduate and professional students were arrayed in two interdisciplinary and inter-institutional teams. Their disciplinary programs spanned science, engineering, social science, humanities, law, and medicine. Their home institutions were Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University, Georgia State University College of Law, and Morehouse School of Medicine. (See Syllabus.)Each PBL team was assigned a short practice problem (see Bringing a Neanderthal to Life) and two longer problems (see Neuroimaging and Violence in the Educational Setting, Patenting Genes and Life, Forensic DNA Identification, and Ethical and Policy Problems in Synthetic Biology). The problems were designed to be "fractious"-novel, complex, ethically fraught, unavoidably public, and unavoidably divisive problems in science and technology policy. Students were asked to apply six skills in analyzing and devising policy resolutions for the problems (see Fractious Problem-Solving Skills) and to apply PBL skills in doing so (see Problem-Based Learning Skills).The problems were composed by NSF EESE grant project personnel and the teams were facilitated by project faculty members. Teams presented their analyses and policy resolutions to audiences of experts, stakeholders, and policymakers. Site includes syllabus and worksheets from the course.
Audience LevelInstructor