Ethics and Responsibility

Cite as:

Okune, Angela. 2018. "Ethics and Responsibility." In PhD Orals Document: Decolonizing the African University. University of California, Irvine. October.

Introduction

Scientists working with and on vulnerable communities often draw on moral and affective registers to explain and justify the broader impact of their scientific activities. There have been long-standing discussions about the moral responsibilities of scientists towards ensuring positive development outcomes from their research as well as tensions over what is expected (and unexpected) as a result of research and scientific education. Aviles (2018) highlights that scientists often do not often see their own work as being motivated by profit and instead frame scientific and educational work using humanitarian and ethical values. She suggests that scientists’ understandings of their role as serving the public good reflects their material and political economic environments. Reardon (2013) explains that justice has emerged as a key organizing principle for practicing scientists and scholars. Vessuri (2015, 2002) and others have also noted that contemporary calls for decolonizing science are often based on ethical and moral arguments for achieving justice and overthrowing historical inequalities. This section of the essay includes several works which have looked at the moral and ethical framing of a reconfiguring of the boundaries between Science and the Public. There are interesting comparisons to make with the humanitarian rhetoric used by technology companies working in/on Africa.

This section of the essay includes a nested essay focusing on the #ScienceMustFall movement in South Africa. In April 2015, a statue of colonialist Cecil John Rhodes was removed from the University of Cape Town’s campus in South Africa. The statue was a catalyst for student protests initially organized under the banners of #RhodesMustFall then #FeesMustFall which eventually drove a national – later international – debate about decolonisation and structural change in universities (under #ScienceMustFall). The questions of ethics and responsibility related to decolonization as framed by the student protests are relevant for continued discussion about ethics, research, education and Africa.

This essay is part of a broader orals document on Decolonizing the African University. Additional sub-essays within the document can be found through the following links: 

Ethics and Responsibility | Colonial Policies and Practices of Education in Africa | Bretton Woods and Investments in Education for Development | Politics and Practices of the Neoliberal University | Proposals for Alternative Approaches to Education | Tech Philanthropy | Openness and Academic Infrastructures


Angela Okune's Orals Documents in Brief

This essay is part of three orals documents submitted by University of California, Irvine Anthropology doctoral student Angela Okune i n partial fulfillment of her requirements for advancement to candidacy. Within UCI Anthropology, the orals documents typically take the form of three documents...Read more
Vessuri, Hebe. 2002. “Ethical Challenges for the Social Sciences on the Threshold of the 21st Century.” Current Sociology 50 (1): 135–50.

Angela Okune: This 2002 article by Hebe Vessuri decries the faith increasingly granted to the instrumental rationality of technoscience even within social sciences. Vessuri notes the greater development of interrogations about what research is for and for whom (relevance).Read more

Vessuri, Hebe. 2015. “Global Social Science Discourse: A Southern Perspective on the World.” Current Sociology 63 (2): 297–313.

Angela Okune: This 2015 article by Hebe Vessuri explores how powerful institutions such as universities, disciplines, states, and social movements work towards defining the principles by which to determine which knowledge holders should be included within social science.Read more

Reardon, Jenny. 2013. “On the Emergence of Science and Justice.” Science, Technology, & Human Values 38 (2): 176–200.

Abstract: " In the last few years, justice has emerged as a matter of concern for the contemporary constitution of technoscience. Increasingly, both practicing scientists and engineers and scholars of science and technology cite justice as an organizing theme of their work. In this essay, I...Read more

Aviles, Natalie B. 2018. “Situated Practice and the Emergence of Ethical Research: HPV Vaccine Development and Organizational Cultures of Translation at the National Cancer Institute.” Science, Technology, & Human Values, January.

Abstract: " This article explores the role scientists at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a US federal science agency, played in researching and testing vaccines against the human papillomavirus (HPV). Drawing upon archival sources and oral history interview data, I challenge narratives that...Read more

Giordano, Sara. 2018. “New Democratic Sciences, Ethics, and Proper Publics.” Science, Technology, & Human Values 43 (3): 401–30.

Abstract: " In this article, I examine the rhetoric of democratic science within the field of synthetic biology. The still emerging field of synthetic biology claims to be a new kind of science based on the promises of affordable medicines, environmental bioremediation, and democratic, do-it-...Read more

Bibliography

Aviles, Natalie B. 2018. “Situated Practice and the Emergence of Ethical Research: HPV Vaccine Development and Organizational Cultures of Translation at the National Cancer Institute.” Science, Technology, & Human Values, January. https://doi.org/10.1177/0162243917749728.

Giordano, Sara. 2018. “New Democratic Sciences, Ethics, and Proper Publics.” Science, Technology, & Human Values 43 (3): 401–30. https://doi.org/10.1177/0162243917723078.

Hendricks, Cheryl, and Brenda Leibowitz. 2016. “Decolonising Universities Isn’t an Easy Process -- but It Has to Happen.” The Conversation, May 23, 2016. http://theconversation.com/decolonising-universities-isnt-an-easy-process-but-it-has-to-happen-59604.

Matandela, Mbali. 2015. “Retrospective : UCT : LGBTQIA The Founders of the #RhodesMustFall Movement (& the Guys) March2015.” BIZLINKS (blog). September 9, 2015. https://bizlinks.wordpress.com/2015/09/09/retrospective-uct-lgbtqia-the-founders-of-the-rhodesmustfall-movement-the-guys-march2015/.

Nyamnjoh, Francis B. 2016. #RhodesMustFall: Nibbling at Resilient Colonialism in South Africa. http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/novanet/detail.action?docID=4652550.

Reardon, Jenny. 2013. “On the Emergence of Science and Justice.” Science, Technology, & Human Values 38 (2): 176–200. https://doi.org/10.1177/0162243912473161.

Shay, Suellen. 2016. “Decolonising the Curriculum: It’s Time for a Strategy.” The Conversation, June 13, 2016. http://theconversation.com/decolonising-the-curriculum-its-time-for-a-strategy-60598.

Vessuri, Hebe. 2002. “Ethical Challenges for the Social Sciences on the Threshold of the 21st Century.” Current Sociology 50 (1): 135–50. https://doi.org/10.1177/0011392102050001010.

———. 2015. “Global Social Science Discourse: A Southern Perspective on the World.” Current Sociology 63 (2): 297–313. https://doi.org/10.1177/0011392114556595.

Zeleza, Paul Tiyambe. 2007. “Knowledge, Globalization, and Hegemony: Production of Knowledge in the Twenty-First Century.” In Knowledge Society vs. Knowledge Economy Knowledge, Power, and Politics, edited by Sverker Sorlin and Hebe Vessuri, 79–106. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. http://site.ebrary.com/id/10171516.

FOR COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Essay Feedback

Orals Commitee members are requested to use the form (link below) to submit any feedback response in your evaluation of the essays and candidate. The authors and advisor have drafted elaborative review questions to help guide your interaction with the PECE essay format. https://goo.gl/forms/...Read more