Join us in exploring intersections between science, politics, policy, and justice.
Over the two years of this theme, we will contemplate a number of overarching questions about the relationship between scientific research, decision-making, and the public interest.
How are scientists and their communities engaging with the public and shaping policy discussions?
What are the consequences when science is politicized and doubt is cast on empirical methods?
Who has the ability to exert political power, pass or reject laws, make educated decisions about natural hazards or medical technologies, and access resources and services related to environmental and bodily health?
2020-21 Focus: Genetic Technologies: Identity, Equality, Ethics
During 2020-21, we will focus on the implications of genetic technologies for disease and disability, for the unequal distribution of benefits and harms, and for privacy. From gene editing to 23andMe, from university laboratories and corporate research parks to hospitals, from designer babies to cancer treatment, genetic technologies raise a host of questions about identity, equality, and ethics.
What conversations about these technologies are—and should be--taking place among researchers, in the business community, and in U.S. government at all levels as well as internationally? What space exists for public education and input and what form should those take?
Alondra Nelson is deputy director for science and society in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. She is also president of the Social Science Research Council and the Harold F. Linder Chair and Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study. She was previously a professor of sociology at Columbia University, where she served as the inaugural Dean of Social Science.
Nelson is author of several books, including The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome. She has contributed to national policy discussions on inequality and about the social implications of new technologies, including artificial intelligence, big data, and human gene editing.
Sponsored by the Wayne Morse Center’s Science, Policy and the Public theme of inquiry and cosponsored by UO Black Studies and Minor Program. It is part of the African American Workshop and Lecture Series and the Lorwin Lectureship on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
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The Covid-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented attention to the work of historians of medicine and public health. Journalists from around the world have asked these scholars to provide "lessons from history" as nations and governments have tried to contain and control the pandemic. Providing neat, helpful lessons has been challenging because historians’ answers are often far from simple. In this talk, Evelynn Hammonds will discuss the difficulties of offering historical examples that can capture the complex forces that shape all epidemics.
Evelynn Hammonds is chair of the Department of the History of Science and professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard. She is the author of Childhood's Deadly Scourge: The Campaign to Control Diphtheria in New York City, 1880–1930 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999) and has published articles on the history of disease, race and science, African American feminism, African American women and the epidemic of HIV/AIDS, and analyses of gender and race in science and medicine. Her current work focuses on the intersection of scientific, medical, and socio-political concepts of race in the United States.
Sponsored by the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics as a part of its 2019-21 theme of inquiry, Science, Policy, and the Public. Cosponsored by the UO Black Studies and Minor Program, History Department, and Global Health Minor Program.
As governments around the world seek paths toward reopening their economies and away from the "social distancing" restrictions that have been imposed in order to control the spread of covid-19, immunity passports have been proposed as one solution. Françoise Baylis and Natalie Kofler will discuss and answer questions about the many ethical, practical, and scientific challenges posed by immunity passports and other types of state-sanctioned health checks.
Françoise Baylis is a philosopher whose innovative work aims to move the limits of mainstream bioethics and develop more effective ways to understand and tackle public policy challenges. Baylis brings her ethical sensibilities, informed by best practices, theory and common sense, to a wide range of public issues. She is a frequent guest on CBC and Radio Canada and the author of many news stories with a “behind the scenes” look at ethical issues. Her current research focuses on heritable human genome modification, the body economy, assisted human reproduction, and research involving women. She will serve as the 2020-21 Wayne Morse Chair.
Natalie Kofler is a molecular biologist and founding director of Editing Nature at Yale University, a global initiative to steer responsible development and deployment of environmental genetic technologies. She also serves as an adviser for the Scientific Citizenship Initiative, Harvard Medical School. Natalie’s work navigates the technical, ecological, and ethical complexity of gene editing applications designed to impact wild species, such as CRISPR-edited mosquitos to prevent malaria transmission, genetic strategies to eliminate invasive species, or the use of CRISPR gene editing to promote species resiliency to changing climates.
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Using the debate over the safety and efficacy of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19 as a case study, this talk will explore ways to communicate the nature of emerging science to the press and public in polarized times and make the case for the need to more cogently communicate the standards that govern assessment of the quality of scientific evidence.
Kathleen Hall Jamieson is the Elizabeth Ware Packard Professor at the Annenberg School for Communication of the University of Pennsylvania and Director of the university’s Annenberg Public Policy Center. She has authored or co-authored 16 books, including Cyberwar: How Russian Hackers and Trolls Helped Elect a President, which won the Association of American Publishers’ 2019 R.R. Hawkins Award and was published in a revised paperback edition by Oxford University Press in June 2020. Among her other award-winning books are Spiral of Cynicism (with Joseph Cappella) and The Obama Victory: How Media, Money and Message Shaped the 2008 Election (with Kate Kenski and Bruce Hardy). In 2020, the National Academy of Sciences awarded Jamieson its Public Welfare Medal for her “non-partisan crusade to ensure the integrity of facts in public discourse and development of the science of scientific communication to promote public understanding of complex issues.” Jamieson is a member of the American Philosophical Society and the National Academy of Sciences, and a Distinguished Scholar of the National Communication Association. She also is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and the International Communication Association. For her contributions to the study of political communication, she received the American Political Science Association’s Murray Edelman Distinguished Career Award in 1995. In 2016, the American Philosophical Society awarded her its Henry Allen Moe Prize in the Humanities.
Co-sponsored by the Center for Science and Communication Research, Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact, and Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics, this lecture is part of the School of Journalism and Communication’s annual Richard W. and Laurie Johnston Lecture series. This series brings professionals to the SOJC for thought-provoking lectures, workshops, and discussions about the thorny issues today’s journalists face, and is made possible by generous gifts from the Johnston family, George E. Jones of U.S. News and World Report, and the Correspondents Fund.
Françoise Baylis, 2020-21 Wayne Morse Chair, is a bioethicist and university research professor at Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia. A philosopher whose innovative research in bioethics lies at the intersection of policy and practice, she challenges readers to think broadly and deeply about the direction of health, science and biotechnology. Her work aims to move the limits of mainstream bioethics and develop more effective ways to understand and tackle public policy challenges. Baylis' most recent book is Altered Inheritance: CRISPR and the Ethics of Human Genome Editing (Harvard University Press, 2019).
Baylis is a member of the Order of Canada and the Order of Nova Scotia, as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. In 2017 she was awarded the Canadian Bioethics Society Lifetime Achievement Award. She has been named to "Who's Who in Black Canada" (2002–present).
This is the annual Wayne Morse Chair Public Address and is part of the Wayne Morse Center's Science, Policy, and the Public theme of inquiry. It is cosponsored by the UO Department of Philosophy; Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; and the Center for the Study of Women in Society.
This panel will consider the enduring legacy of eugenics alongside the possibilities that genetic technologies now offer for understanding population histories, diverse and diasporic ancestries, and race- and gender-based health disparities.
Alexandra Minna Stern is a professor of history, American culture and women's and gender studies as well as associate dean for the humanities at the University of Michigan. She is the author of Telling Genes: The Story of Genetic Counseling in America (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012) and Proud Boys and the White Ethnostate: How the Alt-Right Is Warping the American Imagination (Beacon, 2020).
Jada Benn Torres is an associate professor of anthropology and the director for the Laboratory of Genetic Anthropology and Biocultural Studies at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Torres' research explores genetic ancestry and population history of African and Indigenous Caribbean peoples. She also studies women’s health disparities, with a specific focus on the uterine fibroids among women of African descent. Her most recent book is Genetic Ancestry: Our Stories, Our Pasts (Routledge, 2020).
Moderator: Judith Eisen, Professor of Biology and Wayne Morse Center Distinguished Scholar.
Commentary by Françoise Baylis, 2020-21 Wayne Morse Chair.
Sponsored by the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics as part of its Science, Policy, and the Public theme of inquiry. Cosponsored by the UO Department of Indigenous, Race, and Ethnic Studies; and the UO Black Studies Program and Minor.
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Sheila Jasanoff is a professor of Science and Technology Studies at the Harvard Kennedy School. Her work explores the role of science and technology in the law, politics, and policy of modern democracies. A pioneer in her field, she has authored more than 130 articles and chapters and is author or editor of more than 15 books.
This talk is based on and shares a title with Jasanoff’s most recent book, which explores the dramatic authority accorded to the biological sciences and biotechnology in the genomic age. She explores flashpoints in law, politics, ethics, and culture to argue that science’s promises to edit, or even rewrite, the texts of life to correct nature’s mistakes have gone too far.
Commentary by Andrew Nelson, Randall C. Papé Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Lundquist College of Business, and Associate Vice President, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, University of Oregon; and Françoise Baylis, bioethicist and university research professor at Dalhousie University and Wayne Morse Chair.
Sponsored by the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics as part of its Science, Policy, and the Public theme of inquiry. Cosponsored by the Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact.
Join the Knight Campus and Wayne Morse Chair Françoise Baylis for a discussion on the many benefits genetic technologies are having on today’s biomedical research and what promises it holds for human health. Dr. Baylis will be joined by panelists Calin Plesa (Assistant Professor, Knight Campus), Shoukhrat Mitalipov (Professor and Director of the Center for Embryonic Cell and Gene Therapy, OHSU), and Chris Gemmiti (Executive Director of Technical Operations, CRISPR Therapeutics) for a dynamic conversation followed by audience Q & A.
Moderator Françoise Baylis - 2020-21 Wayne Morse Chair Françoise Baylis is a bioethicist and university research professor at Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia. A philosopher whose innovative research in bioethics lies at the intersection of policy and practice, she challenges readers to think broadly and deeply about the direction of health, science and biotechnology. Her work aims to move the limits of mainstream bioethics and develop more effective ways to understand and tackle public policy challenge. Baylis' most recent book is Altered Inheritance: CRISPR and the Ethics of Human Genome Editing (Harvard University Press, 2019). Baylis brings her ethical sensibilities, informed by best practices, theory and common sense, to a wide range of public issues. She is a frequent guest on CBC and Radio Canada and the author of many news stories with a “behind the scenes” look at ethical issues. Her current research focuses on heritable human genome modification, the body economy, assisted human reproduction, and research involving women. With a personal mantra to make the powerful care, Baylis contributes to national policy-making via government research contracts, membership on national committees and public education. This work – all of which is informed by a strong commitment to the common good – focuses largely on issues of social justice. Baylis is a member of the Order of Canada and the Order of Nova Scotia, as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. In 2017 she was awarded the Canadian Bioethics Society Lifetime Achievement Award. She has been named to "Who's Who in Black Canada" (2002–present).
Panelist Calin Plesa – Calin Plesa is an Assistant Professor in the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact at the University of Oregon. He received a BASc in Engineering Physics from Simon Fraser University, MSc in Nanoscience from Chalmers University of Technology, and a PhD from Delft University of Technology in Bionanoscience. As an HFSP Fellow in the Kosuri lab at UCLA he developed DropSynth, a low-cost scalable method to synthesize thousands of genes. Calin holds a CASI award from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and started his lab at the University of Oregon in 2019. The Plesa lab focuses on accelerating the pace at which we understand and engineer biological protein-based systems. Towards this end, it develops new technologies for gene synthesis, multiplex functional assays, in-vivo mutagenesis, and genotype-phenotype linkages for a number of different research areas and applications. These enable access to the huge sequence diversity present in natural systems as well as testing of rationally designed hypotheses encoded onto DNA at much larger scales than previously possible.
Panelist Shoukhrat Mitalipov – Shoukhrat Mitalipov is a Director of the Center for Embryonic Cell and Gene Therapy of Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). He is also a Professor in the Division of Reproductive & Developmental Sciences at Oregon National Primate Research Center, OHSU. Dr. Mitalipov earned his Ph.D. degree in Developmental & Stem Cell Biology from Research Center for Medical Genetics in Moscow, Russia. He came to Utah State University in 1995 to conduct his postdoctoral research in stem cell and developmental biology and moved to OHSU in 1998. Dr. Mitalipov’s research interest is to understand the mechanisms of cytoplasmic control of nuclear genome identity and reprogramming of somatic cells to the totipotent and pluripotent states. Another objective is to develop novel germline gene therapy approaches for the treatment of inherited human diseases. Dr. Mitalipov is know for his leading discoveries in producing human patient-matched embryonic stem cells using somatic cell nuclear transfer. His team has also pioneered gene therapy approaches that prevent transmission of genetic defects in both nuclear and mitochondrial genes to future generations.
Panelist Chris Gemmiti – Dr. Gemmiti has dedicated his 20+ year career to cell therapy and regenerative medicine, through both industry and academic roles. He is currently the Executive Director of Technical Operations at CRISPR Therapeutics. This includes multiple candidates in the Hemoglobinopathy, Immuno-oncology and Regenerative Medicine franchises. He was most recently the Senior VP of Operations at Sentien, a clinical-stage MSC company. He held a key role in opening and executing Sentien’s IND for COVID-19 patients experiencing multi-organ failure. Chris joined Sentien from Harvard’s Wyss Institute, where he guided translation strategy and technical development of early-stage regenerative medicine technologies. Previously, at Organogenesis Inc., he was the business unit Director responsible for the clinical development, FDA approval (2012), and commercial launch of GINTUIT™, the first manufactured allogeneic cell therapy approved by BLA. He holds a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Georgia Tech and BS in BME from Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Gemmiti has served on Advisory Boards at Georgia Tech, Johns Hopkins, Duke University, TERMIS, Cell Therapy Bioprocessing and Alliance for Regenerative Medicine.
For more than 50 years, technologies like amniocentesis have used for prenatal screening purposes, to help individuals and families with histories of serious genetic illness make informed reproductive decisions. What do we do now that technologies exist not just to provide information but to select and even modify the genetic makeup of the next generation?
Camisha Russell is an assistant professor of philosophy at University of Oregon. Her primary research and teaching interests are in critical philosophy of race, feminist philosophy, and bioethics. Her book The Assisted Reproduction of Race (Indiana University Press, 2018) considers the role of the race idea in practices surrounding assisted reproductive technologies and argues for the benefits of thinking of race itself as a technology.
Paul Knoepfler is a professor of cell biology and human anatomy at UC Davis School of Medicine. His research interests are primarily focused on the epigenomics of cancer and stem cells. A science writer, advocate, and cancer survivor, he has written and spoken widely about “designer babies.”
Moderator: Judith Eisen, Professor of Biology and Wayne Morse Center Distinguished Scholar.
Commentary by Françoise Baylis, bioethicist and university research professor at Dalhousie University and Wayne Morse Chair.
Sponsored by the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics as part of its Science, Policy, and the Public theme of inquiry.
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During the COVID-19 pandemic, public debates about the validity of scientific findings and the value of science overall have intensified, as some Americans have actively resisted and even denied the legitimacy of scientific guidance about how to address the disease. What are the social and psychological drivers of public skepticism about science? How can skeptics be convinced otherwise? According to Naomi Oreskes, professor of the History of Science at Harvard University, people won’t be persuaded with more science or more facts. They deny scientific findings because they do not like the implications of their veracity—what Oreskes terms “implicatory denial.”
To convince deniers, their fears and ideologies must be addressed. Some Americans hold a worldview that prioritizes the inviolability of individual rights and the sanctity of the economy above all else, and adhere to an ideology of “limited government.” Oreskes contends, “This runs very, very deep in American culture. It ties into an extraordinary individualism that you don’t generally see in other places in the world. We tend to be more resistant to collective action in the United States than people in other countries. And it ties into this very, very deep idea in American culture that the government that governs best governs least.”
Naomi Oreskes will explore the complexities of Americans’ denial of scientific findings and skepticism about science in her 2020–21 Cressman Lecture “Can Science Be Saved?” via Zoom.
As Oreskes explains, “Many Americans think that we face a general crisis of trust in science. With the rejection of mask-wearing by many Americans—as well as many of our political leaders—it is easy to come to that conclusion. But evidence shows that the vast majority of Americans do, in fact, trust science. Scientists (along with doctors and nurses) remain among the most respected and trusted figures in American life. However, Americans do distrust and reject science in particular areas, and we know something about why that is: Americans reject scientific findings and advice when they dislike their implications. Often this involves a perceived threat to our individual freedoms and personal liberties, or to strongly held beliefs. In the COVID-19 crisis, irresponsible political leaders fomented the idea that asking a person to wear a mask was asking them to give up their freedom. This, of course, was preposterous; wearing a mask is little more than an inconvenience. Still, because the question of mask-wearing has become entangled with the question of personal choice, solving it will not be a matter of giving people more or better information. This means that scientists will have to accept that asking people to trust science is more than a matter of asking them to accept facts; it is also a matter of ethics, morality, and citizenship.”
Oreskes is a leading public intellectual on the role of science in society, the reality of anthropogenic climate change, and on anti-scientific disinformation campaigns. She has written numerous books including Discerning Experts (2019), Why Trust Science? (2019), and Science on a Mission: American Oceanography from the Cold War to Climate Change (2020), and the forthcoming The Magic of the Marketplace: The True History of a False Idea with Erik Conway.
Oreskes’s lecture is free and open to the public. Registration is required to participate in the live Zoom event. The talk will be recorded and available for viewing on the OHC’s YouTube channel. For more information, contact email@example.com.
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This panel will explore questions associated with genetic tests, including when such tests are used and what information they can and cannot offer. How do individuals, families, and clinicians navigate the testing process? How do genetic tests shape our understanding of disease and disability? What do they reveal about our desire to predict and control the future, including the future of what it means to be fully human?
Alice Wexler is the author of The Woman Who Walked into the Sea: Huntington's and the Making of a Genetic Disease (2008), which won a 2009 Book Award from the American Medical Writers Association. She is also the sister of Nancy Wexler, leader of the team that discovered the Huntington's disease gene and a central figure in Alice's book, Mapping Fate: A Memoir of Family, Risk, and Genetic Research (1995).
George Estreich writes about the intersection between new biomedical technologies and disability, including The Shape of the Eye, a memoir about his daughter Laura, who has Down Syndrome. His most recent book, Fables and Futures: Biotechnology, Disability, and the Stories we Tell Ourselves (MIT Press), was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award and was named a Best Science Book of 2019 by NPR's Science Friday.
Kathryn L. Murray is the director of genetic services at the Center for Genetics and Maternal Fetal Medicine in Eugene. She has been instrumental in bringing comprehensive genetic counseling to Eugene. She has been active in the System Ethics Committee of Providence Health & PeaceHealth Systems and was the onsite principal investigator in the BRCA1 Predisposition Testing Program at Harvard’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. At the University of Michigan, she aided in the verification of genetic markers for the Huntington disease gene.
Moderated by Judith Eisen, professor of biology and Wayne Morse Center Distinguished Scholar.
This event is sponsored by the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics as a part of its 2019-21 theme of inquiry, Science, Policy, and the Public. It is also part of the Lorwin Lectureship on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
2020-21 Wayne Morse Chair of Law and Politics
Françoise Baylis is a bioethicist and university research professor at Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia. A philosopher whose innovative research in bioethics lies at the intersection of policy and practice, she challenges readers to think broadly and deeply about the direction of health, science and biotechnology.
Beyond Toxics and NAACP Eugene-Springfield will host the rescheduled Oregon Environmental Justice Pathways Summit April 9-10, 2021, at the University of Oregon. The summit brings together frontline communities, government officials, students, and scholars to develop a resource document that communities and policymakers can follow to embed an environmental justice framework in policy and practice. See past Environmental Justice Pathways webinars.
Classroom Law Project will offer an interactive digital workshop titled Civic Engagement and BioTechnology Ethics: Equity and Public Health Policy on October 9, 2020. Developed specifically for science and social studies teachers (grades 5 -12), this workshop focuses on how to engage students, both in traditional classrooms and remotely, with the ways ethical policy decisions about biotechnology and healthcare can create more equity within communities. Using the Project Citizen: Civics in Action! framework, Classroom Law Project will show how this inquiry-based methodology can engage students and empower them during a time of uncertainty.
Assistant Professor Maxwell Foxman (SOJC) will prototype a board game titled WildFire, created with journalism graduate student Robin FitzClemen, in which players cooperate to put out uncontrollable blazes over the course of multiple fire seasons using real-time climate data to simulate environmental conditions. The goal is to provide players with a novel means of experiencing the trials and tribulations of dealing with wildfires in the context of global and local climate change. Based on serious game design methodology, WildFire will be play-tested throughout the year with key stakeholders, including firefighters, educators, government officials and journalists, in order to maximize its potential to inform the public.
Carol Cruzan Morton Working with the The Oregonian/OregonLive, science journalist Carol Cruzan Morton will report on new therapeutic gene editing technologies. The reporting will focus on Oregon research and explore the quickly advancing science and implications of deliberate and accidental genetic changes that may extend through generations. The project will help inform the perspectives and conversations of policy makers and citizens.
Associate Professor Nicolae Morar (Environmental Studies & Philosophy), along with Bryan Cwik from Portland State University, will host a workshop at UO during winter term featuring a team of international experts discussing ethical, political and policy issues related to the distribution of access to gene editing. The workshop will explore questions of reproductive medicine, genetic technologies, and justice, as well as concerns about the downstream social impacts of these biotechnologies. The speakers will also consider possible solutions to these bioethical problems.
The Museum of Natural and Cultural History, adapting to the uncertainties brought about by COVID-19, will offer a robust and varied array of virtual, in-person, and “take out” programming related to genetic diversity and genetic engineering that is designed to engage UO faculty and students, community members, youth and families. The effort includes creating an online version of its anchor exhibit, Explore Oregon, hosting a lecture series examining de-extinction and the ethics of genetic modification, and providing science craft kits to UO students and children. Visit the museum’s website for programming news.
Science Policy Education and Dialogue, a group launched by undergraduate students Rose Kordahl (Chemistry, Political Science) and Maya Pande (Biochemistry, Political Science), will bridge the gap between the disciplines of science, social studies, and the humanities by fostering open and tolerant discussions on complex policy issues and exploring the role of scientists in public policy.
Adam Spencer, MS (UO School of Journalism and Communication), working with the Clackamas River Basin Council, has created Clackamas360, a virtual field trip of the Clackamas River Basin that harnesses drone photography and video to teach geography, wildlife biology and watershed conservation to high school students in the Clackamas area. The project will be hosted on a 360-degree website, with informational text and photography to correspond with workbook assignments. CRBC staff members will join high school classes via teleconferencing to introduce each lesson and show students how to navigate the website, with follow-up visits to discuss the lessons and assignments and consider how the students can actively participate in watershed stewardship.