Nano Carta: Should there be an ethical code for nanotechnology?
Press release issued: 14 March 2012
Part of a Europe-wide debate about the ethical, social and legal questions associated with nanoscience will take place in Bristol on Tuesday [20 March]. The debate, featuring a group of Bristol University PhD students from the Bristol Centre for Functional Nanomaterials [BCFN], will help form an ethical code for nanotechnology looking at privacy issues, acceptance, human health, access, liability, regulation and control.
Pupils in Years 10 and 11 at St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School will input their own thoughts after learning about nanotechnology - the study of manipulating matter on an atomic and molecular scale – as part of an on-going partnership with the University.
The Nanochannels project is funded by the European Commission and involves 20 teachers from eight countries across the continent, each engaging students through the use of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and live debates. The Guardian newspaper is a partner in the project and is publishing articles on its Nanotechnology World microsite.
Dr Paul Hill, a science teacher at St Mary Redcliffe, won the grant and established the collaboration with the BCFN. Postgraduate students have since been teaching pupils about the theory and practical challenges of researching nanotechnology, with examples from their own PhD research.
Looking at the use of nanosensors in medical diagnosis will be the hot topic on Tuesday evening, when experts join with pupils to look at the benefits and ethical implications of using nanoscience to diagnose diseases.
Dr Annela Seddon, Teaching and Research Fellow in the BCFN and Lecturer in the School of Physics, said: “Our postgraduates have already been engaging in lively and thoughtful debate with Year 10 students about the benefits and ethical implications of nanotechnology through a moderated Facebook group.
“Tuesday’s event will bring everyone’s thoughts together and enable us to write what we’re calling a ‘Nano Carta’ – a document prepared by students to act as an ethical code for nanotechnology.
“The whole project has been a fantastic opportunity for both staff and pupils at St Mary Redcliffe and everyone from the BCFN. We all very much hope that it has been thought-provoking and will inspire a new generation of students to study science and engineering.”