iGEM ethics guide
Thinking about the ethical implications of your iGEM project can be a daunting task. For this reason, the CIDosis team has made a hands-on step-by-step guide that divides your ethical work into comprehensive parts. This way, every time an iGEM team feels unsure about the ethical implications of their project, they can consult the guide. The guide is the results of thorough research and discussion throughout our project. It includes
  • • Describing the method of Casuistry. A method for moral reasoning
  • • Explaining ethics in an iGEM context
  • • Using our framework on two iGEM projects as case studies

The guide is a collaboration effort with Synthetics; an iGEM start-up primarily focused on the issues arising at the intersection between ethics and synthetic biology. The guide can be read below or on the SynthEthics website.
The six steps of the guide is summarized in laymans term below.

    1. Mapping out your case

      • The project should be described in such detail that it becomes apparent where the moral ambiguities, or grey areas, lie. This is where your moral work should be focused.

    2. Identifying relevant moral motto

      • These are short, rule-like sayings that give moral identity to your case. For example, actions speak louder than words, honesty is the best policy, etc. In this step, you do not make judgments or conclusions but simply define the moral identity that apply to your problem.

    3. Formulating a paradigm case

      • Formulate an example case that illustrates a clear moral judgment. This paradigm case should share some similarities with the problem you wish to investigate. That means that at least one of the moral mottos that applies to your project should apply to the paradigm case.

    4. Compare your case with the paradigm case

      • Using the paradigm as an analogous case, you can investigate similarities and differences with your project. The paradigm case exemplifies a clear moral judgment, while your case does not. This means that the differences between your project and the example case make the moral conclusions distinct.

    5. Practical reasoning and weighing the facts

      • At this stage, you should try to evaluate the importance of the facts that differentiate your case from the paradigm case. You should now try to evaluate which of these facts are most important for making the moral conclusions different. There is no straightforward way to do this. It requires reliance on previous experience, contextual information, and common sense.

    6. Sketching out the necessary conditions for you case

      • You cannot with certainty claim that your case is morally permissible. But if your case is morally permissible, you can be certain that the facts that differentiate your case from the paradigm case, need to be in place

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Guide to workshop in idea generation
In our education work this year, we have wished to develop mini-versions of iGEM in the form of workshops to inspire high school students. However, we wished to reach more than just biology students, because iGEM is much more than synthetic biology. For us, a core element of iGEM is developing an important idea and being able to pitch it. Without a variety of skills on an iGEM team, synthetic biology solutions will not reach their full potential. We thus developed a workshop we could do with students from mixed backgrounds. The workshop was a success and here we provide a detailed instruction on how to conduct the workshop. We hope this can be an inspiration to teams all over and help spread SynBio to all types of students.

In short: In this workshop, the focus is on spreading the awareness of SynBio solutions, while learning how to go from problem to solution and be able to present the concept in a clear and convincing way.

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