Human Practices

Human Practices Hub

Through Human Practices, iGEM teams consider whether their projects are responsible and good for the world. They creatively engage with issues in ethics, sustainability, inclusion, security, and many other areas. Human Practices questions are complex and don’t have simple answers. Teams therefore often conduct public engagement; inviting stakeholder input to shape the direction of their work.

"Human Practices is the study of how your work affects the world, and how the world affects your work." — Peter Carr, Director of Judging

Coronavirus Update

As a core part of the iGEM Competition, human practices asks teams to think carefully and creatively about how their project will affect the world, and how the world affects the project. As a major disruption in the world, the COVID-19 pandemic clearly falls under this mandate; it will undoubtedly affect your project and some teams may even want to respond to COVID-19 using the tools of synthetic biology. We want to caution that regardless of your project focus, this public health crisis poses some special challenges for human practices of which you should be aware.

In particular, team-based projects and integrated human practices requirements will need careful consideration while social distancing measures are in place in many countries. Teams will need to think carefully about any in-person interactions with people that might be affected by their projects, regardless of whether they are focusing on COVID-19. This is particularly true when teams are planning to work with vulnerable populations, including those particularly susceptible to this disease, such older people (that is people over 60 years old); and those with underlying medical conditions (such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer).

The Safety and Security Committee and Human Practices Committee, along with iGEM Headquarters, have created a page with additional guidelines on your work in the context of COVID-19:

What is Human Practices?

Learn about Human Practices and why it is an important part of iGEM.

Frequently Asked Questions

See answers to questions like "How can my team integrate Human Practices into our Foundational Advance project?"


Getting started? These resources can help you understand methods for responsible research, public engagement, and much more.

Exemplary Projects

Explore how teams have approached Human Practices in many inspiring and impactful iGEM projects.

How to Succeed

All teams are encouraged to engage in Human Practices. Check out our tips for teams on the page below.

Beyond the Competition

How did Human Practices come to be a part of iGEM? What does Human Practices look like in the real world?


Questions? Suggestions? The Human Practices committee is here to help!

Is your team interested in incorporating the Sustainable Development Goals in your project? We have created a page with resources to help you get started!


If you have questions or suggestions please check out the FAQ or email us at humanpractices [AT] igem [DOT] org

We love hearing from teams as they explore the Human Practices issues that arise during their iGEM season. Best of luck with your projects!