COLLEGEVILLE PA – A grant-funded program at Ursinus College that proposes to produce citizen-scientists who can confront the ethical implications of their work – those who have the expertise needed for research but also the judgment to decide which scientific endeavors best advance the common good – launches next month with an event that’s free and open to the public.
“Lessons from Abroad: The Opportunities of a Borderless World,” will be the celebratory speech to open Ursinus’ Center for Science and the Common Good. The program is funded by an $800,000 grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to provide opportunities for all Ursinus science majors to consider the impact of science on society. The center will present a seminar series, host a Science-Writer-in-Residence, and develop new courses.
The opening seminar, scheduled for Sept. 12 (2012; Wednesday) at 7 p.m. in the Lenfest Theater of the Kaleidoscope Performing Arts Center on the Main Street campus, will be offered by Richard Heinzl, founder of the first North American chapter of Doctors Without Borders. The Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization has inspired a movement among medical professionals to help the world’s most vulnerable populations.
- This event has been added to The Post calendar.
Heinzl founded the chapter in 1988, just out of medical school, and soon became its first field volunteer, spending a year in remote Cambodia. His experiences are captured in his memoir, “Cambodia Calling.” Hundreds of volunteers have since followed in his footsteps.
Also scheduled in the seminar series:
- Oct. 9 (Tuesday), at 7 p.m. in Lenfest, “Our Options Have Changed: Consumer Health Literacy in a Changing Environment.” The Internet has democratized access to information about health trends, medical data, and information about health resources, but consumers still lack the basic information they need to make informed health decisions. The discussion covers how innovations in health care delivery, costs and payment systems have changed our experiences as health care consumers.
- Oct. 29 (Monday), at 7 p.m. in Lenfest, “The Quest for the Higgs Boson, and Why It Matters.” Matt Strassler, theoretical physicist and professor at Rutgers University, explains particle physics and events related to the Large Hadron Collider.
Scientists need to understand the ethical, political, and religious context in which science operates in order to judge how scientific endeavors can best advance the common good, Ursinus biology professor Robert Dawley says. The center “will ensure that … science majors acquire this judgment by encouraging them to make the most of the liberal education that Ursinus offers.”