Webinar: Good Chemistry – Do Chemists Need Ethics?

Aug 16, 2021

The European Chemical Society, EuChemS, organised the webinar “Good Chemistry – Do Chemists Need Ethics?”, that was held on Thursday 7 October 2021 (10:00 a.m. CEST).

This online event was organised in collaboration with the EuChemS Working Party on Ethics in Chemistry. This event was chaired by Dr. Jan Mehlich (recipient of the 2020 EuChemS Award for Service and member of the EuChemS Working Party on Ethics in Chemistry).

Objectives of the webinar

Chemistry is, no doubt, a common good in that chemical science, knowledge, expertise, engineering, and innovation enable and develop countless products that have significant impact on the social and environmental lifeworld. Many of these products increase the quality of life of their users in one way or another. Yet, adverse effects of the manifestations of chemical progress are clearly visible, too. What is the role of chemical experts in the attempts to tackle this dual use potential and support the benefit side while reducing the risks? Chemical scientists, engineers, innovators, and regulators cannot simply be regarded as mere knowledge deliverers. They are interwoven into an interdisciplinary network of actors with different views and arguments in the discourse on scientific and technological development. These discourses happen on a small scale in academic research labs and corporate innovation teams as well as in large arenas such as scientific policy advise or public communication of science-driven progress. This webinar wants to raise the awareness for the inevitably normative character of much decision-making in the creative science chemistry. The role of ethics for scientific and innovative activity is not only the formulation of guidelines of good scientific practice with which the professional chemist complies but also the provision of a plausible framework for discourse competence, critical thinking, and interdisciplinary communication of facts and norms. The attendees will be guided through cases and scenarios that illustrate vividly how chemists who embrace their social responsibilities by practicing ethics skills contribute to more sustainable techno-scientific progress and innovation.

Jan Mehlich is a science and technology ethicist with an educational background in Chemistry. His academic interest is in value co-creation processes and the role of scientists, engineers, designers and other innovators in the discourse on sustainable scientific and technological progress. He is also a member of the EuChemS Working Party on Ethics in Chemistry. He recently joined the University of Bonn (Germany) as a scientific assistant in the group of Prof. Christiane Woopen.

Dr. Jan Mehlich is one of the recipients of the 2020 EuChemS Award for Service – a prize that will be presented to him at the 8th EuChemS Chemistry Congress 2022 in Lisbon (Portugal) in recognition of his outstanding commitment and hard work in fostering chemistry in Europe, along with the activities and goals of EuChemS.

He has developed an on-line course, Good Chemistry-Methodological, Ethical, and Social Implications, worth 2 ECTS Credits and now available on the EuChemS Moodle platform. All the content has been developed by him, with help from the EuChemS Division of Chemical Education.

This e-course aims to contribute to an integral education on good and ethical chemistry practices for students, as they are important future enactors of progress and influential decision-makers in academia, industry, and society. Its content relates to science conduct, logic and theory of science, experimentation, professional and public communication of science, risk and uncertainty, sustainability, and social impact of chemical activity. Around 400 students registered for this free online course, thus contributing to the dissemination of ethical chemistry conduct, the increasing impact of EuChemS’ activities and the enhancement of chemistry and EuChemS’ profile.

Page last updated: 15 October 2021