Maastricht University helps India and Kenya produce a manifesto for ethical research
March 27, 2008 Leave a Comment
The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Maastricht University (UM) recently signed a contract with the European Commission for a three-year project on the ethics of scientific and technological research in India and Kenya.
The University is the sole Dutch partner in the project. The aim is to draw up two national manifestos for research ethics in the two countries. The UM researchers believe that Europe too can learn from experience in India and Kenya in a number of areas: the democratisation of science and technology, involving the general public in the development of science and technology and building a sustainable society for everyone. The project has a budget of €1.8 million, of which close on €185,000 will go to the University.
Research ethics is an umbrella term for the norms and values that guide researchers in their work. Like ‘ordinary’ ethics, they are influenced by culture, religion and social development in the country concerned. Because scientific and technological progress plays a major role in development, it is important to focus on the ethics underlying research in these fields.
The project group hopes to support India (an emerging economy) and Kenya (a developing country) in developing their own research ethics and engaging in dialogue with researchers from different countries.
Local development and local context are of major importance. In Kenya, for example, knowledge dependence and the brain drain are points of concern, while in India important issues include the rapid growth of research structures in information technology and agriculture, and the enormous pressure on researchers to come up with benefits for the population in their daily lives.
European researchers (in the case of the UM, Professor Wiebe Bijker and Dr Ragna Zeiss) will travel to India and Kenya to set up joint activities with colleagues there. Professor Bijker is already involved in preparations in India, and the official launch of the project will take place in March. Networks of European, Indian and Kenyan researchers will exchange experiences related to research ethics and science policy. These exchanges will also involve representatives of civil society groups (action groups, NGOs and community initiatives).
As Wiebe Bijker says: “We expect that Europe too can learn from experiences in Kenya and India in areas such as the democratisation of science and technology, involving the public in scientific and technological development and working together on building a sustainable society for all.”
The project’s official title is ‘Science, Ethics and Technological Responsibility in Developing and Emerging Countries (SET-DEV)’ and it is funded by the European Science in Society Programme (a ‘Seventh framework’ project). It involves eleven European, Indian and Kenyan partners including Maastricht.
Source: NUFFIC, 26 March 2008