One response to society's concerns about synthetic biology has been to institutionalize the involvement of social scientists in the field. There have been a series of initiatives in which ethics and biosafety approaches have been purposely incorporated into synthetic biology research and development. The collaborative Human Practices model within the NSF-funded SynBERC project was the first initiative in which social scientists were explicitly integrated into a synthetic biology research program. But these new collaborations have also flourished in the UK where four research councils have funded seven scientific networks in synthetic biology that require consideration of ethical, legal and social issues. Another example is the US-UK Synthetic Aesthetics Project, which brings together synthetic biologists, social scientists, designers and artists to explore collaborations between synthetic biology and the creative professions.
Similarly, the European Commission's Seventh Framework Program funds a project called Synth-Ethics, which "aims at discerning relevant ethical issues in close collaboration with the synthetic biology community."
On May 12, 2010, the Synthetic Biology Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars will present a panel discussion to explore new forms of collaboration that have emerged between scientists and social scientists working on synthetic biology. A distinguished group of speakers will explore the many ways in which the new science of synthetic biology—far from standing apart from the rest of the academic disciplines—is in constant conversation with the social sciences and the arts.
Join us on Wednesday, May 12th, at 12:30 p.m. in the 5th Floor Conference Room of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars for a discussion about these new forms of collaboration.
Download Jane Calvert's presentation slides here.
Download Mark Bedau's presentation slides here.
Download Lino Paula's presentation slides here.