2018 Projects | 2016 Projects

Are We Asking the Right Questions about the Ethics of Autonomous Vehicle Testing?

$67,275 grant
Project Description and Presentation Video

The current development of autonomous vehicles (AVs) appears to be leading us to a wonderful future of effortless mobility. But what if there are unanticipated, negative consequences? We believe that a wait-and-see approach is irresponsible, especially since some consequences can be irreversible. We are particularly concerned about pathways of testing and deployment of AVs that could lead to widening disparities and a declining quality of life for certain segments of society. In our proposed work, we will begin with a systematic exploration of possible negative outcomes and will engage multiple stakeholders, including those who may be most impacted by these outcomes. We then develop recommendations for the sponsors and implementers of AV trials (testing programs) that would enable stakeholders to voice their concerns and influence the design of these trials. With these research experiences, we will be well positioned for future work in dissemination and implementation of our recommendations.

Participant's Summary

JHU Divisions involved: Bloomberg School of Public Health; Whiting School of Engineering; Berman Institute of Bioethics

Collaborations: The practical ethics project was the first collaboration between the two co-investigators. We have subsequently worked on five other projects and submitted proposals for several others. Our track record of work resulted in an invited paper to the journal Injury Preventionand led to the strategic hiring of a new faculty member at the School of Public Health who is focused on the issues we have been pursuing.

Outputs: We have an invited paper, several ongoing studies in related topics, and received a financial commitment from Bloomberg and Whiting School of Engineering to proceed with a strategic hire of a new faculty member focused on this work.

Additional Funding: $350,000 received from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Decisions on several other submitted proposals are still outstanding.

“The requirement for working across at least two schools in the university led to this fruitful collaboration between Tak and I. Without the practical ethics opportunity I would never have reached out to him. It has fundamentally changed the trajectory of my academic career.”

Participating Faculty

Co-Principal Investigators 

Johnathon Ehsani, Assistant Professor, Department of Health Policy & Management, Center for Injury Research & Policy, Bloomberg School of Public Health

Tak Igusa, Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, Whiting School of Engineering


Govind Persad, Assistant Professor, Department of Health Policy & Management, Bloomberg School of Public Health; Berman Institute of Bioethics

Ethical Robotics: Implementing Value-Driven Behavior in Autonomous Systems

$67,500 grant
Project Description and Presentation Video

Robots will soon pervade our daily lives as surrogates, assistants, and companions. As we grant them greater autonomy, it is imperative that they are endowed with ethical reasoning commensurate with their ability to both benefit and harm humanity. In 1942, Isaac Asimov stipulated his Three Laws of Robotics to govern robot behavior. Implementing such laws requires an actionable value system that can be analyzed, judged and modified by humans. The proposed project brings together ethics and robotics experts from the JHU Berman Institute of Bioethics and JHU/APL to (1) develop an ethical framework for robots, (2) implement the framework by extending existing robot capabilities, and (3) assess the framework’s impact on robot behavior using JHU/APL’s Robo Sally, a hyper-dexterous robot with Modular Prosthetic Limbs and human-like manipulation capabilities. The goal is to derive design guidelines and best practices to implement practical ethics in next-generation robotic systems.

Participant's Summary

JHU Divisions involved: Applied Physics Laboratory; Berman Institute of Bioethics; School of Medicine


  1. Concepts for “Moral Vision” as part of an ethics framework for autonomous systems (Ariel Greenberg).
  2. Concepts for moral decision-making in autonomous dual-arm robots based on harm ontology.
  3. Presentation to Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute (A. Llorens on behalf of A. Greenberg): “Endowing RAS with Moral Agency,” 29 May 2018.
  4. Keynote talk at IEEE ResWeek18, Cognitive track (A. Greenberg): “Moral-Scene Assessment for Intelligent Systems,” 23 Aug 2018.
  5. AIES-19 participation (A. Greenberg, supported by Janney/Explore), Jan 2019.
  6. AAAI-19 Spring Symposium invited talk + book chapter (A. Greenberg, supported by JHU/APL Janney/Energize), Mar 2019.
  7. IAA Assured Autonomy Workshop lightning talk (A. Greenberg), 29 April 2019.
  8. Sandia National Labs/Cognitive Science and Technology invited talk (A. Greenberg, supported by JHU/APL R1Q), TBD 2019.
  9. Project will be mentioned in invited talk and paper (Bruce Swett): “Designing Robots for the Battlefield: State-of-the-Art,” by Bruce Swett, Erin Hahn, and Ashley Llorens. Organized by Pontifical Academy of Sciences (PAS) and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences (PASS) on Robotics, AI, and Humanity: Science, Ethics, and Policy, Vatican City (Casina Pio IV),16-17 May 2019.

Additional Funding Pursued: Internal JHU/APL IRAD proposal for $100,000. Still waiting to hear on outside proposals.

“The Practical Ethics project enabled us to explore an area of autonomous systems that is of growing importance within government and industry. The collaboration with the Berman Institute was one of the most exciting parts of the research, resulting in some very interesting and impactful discussions. We appreciate the opportunity to participate in this program and hope it continues.”

Participating Faculty

Co-Principal Investigators 

David Handelman, Senior Roboticist, Applied Physics Laboratory

Ariel Greenberg, Senior Research Scientist, Applied Physics Laboratory

Bruce Swett, Senior Neuroscience Researcher, Applied Physics Laboratory


Debra Mathews, Assistant Director of Science Programs, Berman Institute of Bioethics; Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine

Travis Rieder, Research Scholar and Assistant Director for Education Initiatives, Berman Institute of Bioethics

Housing Our Story: Towards Archival Justice for Black Baltimore

$26,984 grant
Project Description and Presentation Video

“Housing Our Story” engages in the practical ethics of building an archive about African-American staff and contract workers at the Johns Hopkins University. Even with many librarians making new commitments to diversity and social responsibility, few have considered the ethical imperatives raised by structural racism, archival silences, and failed efforts to resist erasure on the part of marginal populations. While archivists nobly aim to preserve the memory of the world, they often, in practice, institutionalize the choices of the powerful. Archivists and their benefactors get to determine what belongs in special collections, where to locate archives, how to organize them, and even what counts as an archival source. Because archivists have their own biases and have to deal with the realities of a given institution’s capacities, their choices ultimately result in silences, silences that, not infrequently, infringe on black people’s ability to form social memory and history. We aim to redress this problem.

Participant's Summary

JHU Divisions involved: Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

Output: Feature story, “Whose History? Scholars and Students Attempt to Correct Years of Archival Neglect at Johns Hopkins,” by Emma Pettit, Chronicle for Higher Education, Mar. 8. 2019

“We enjoyed breaking down the wall between staff and intellectual recognition at Johns Hopkins University.”

Participating Faculty

Co-Principal Investigators 

Jennifer P. Kingsley, Senior Lecturer and Assistant Director, Program in Museums and Society, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

Shani Mott, Lecturer, Center for Africana Studies, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

N.D.B. Connolly, Herbert Baxter Adams Associate Professor, Department of History, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

The Law of Unintended Consequences: Will the Implementation of California Senate Bill 27 Impact Animal Health and Well-Being?

$67,500 grant
Project Description and Presentation Video

We propose to analyze the ethical trade-offs between a California state legislation, Senate Bill (SB) 27, that limits antibiotic uses in food-producing animals to benefit public health and the potential costs from this legislation in terms of animal health and welfare. This policy will go into effect on January 1, 2018, allowing us to leverage the natural experiment to determine shifts that occur around the time of policy implementation. We will interview poultry and dairy farmers and other stakeholders, we will evaluate animal health and welfare outcomes, and we will conduct an ethical analysis to examine the trade-offs. To aid in the development of future policies, we will recommend mitigation strategies and produce ethical checklists as tools for decision-makers.

Participant's Summary

JHU Divisions involved: Bloomberg School of Public Health, School of Medicine, Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Berman Institute of Bioethics

Collaborations: This work has spawned many new network connections and collaborations, both formal and informal. For example, we were able to find synergy between this work and work funded by and in collaboration with the Northeast Center (NEC), a NIOSH-funded center focused on safety in agricultural operations. We also developed a formal collaboration with a researcher at UMD College Park as well as a number of additional informal collaborations with faculty there and elsewhere. We’ve also made strong connections at the state government level, and this work has informed some of our interactions with federal agencies.

Outputs: We are still engaged in data collection, but preliminary findings from work already have catalyzed two sub-projects (one focused on aquaculture and another focused on processors) as well as a follow-on proposal to the USDA (under review currently). We plan a stakeholder convening to discuss ethical tools, with subsequent delivery of the tool to stakeholders following amendment with stakeholder input. We plan two to four manuscripts to submit for peer-reviewed publication.

Additional Funding Pursued: USDA AFRI (Animal Welfare), $500,000 (total direct + indirect) – invited resubmission

“This project has really been the glue that lets us bring together multiple lines of scientific inquiry and deepen our understanding of stakeholder perspectives in a charged regulatory landscape. These data strengthen our understanding of aspects of the industry that are critical, not just to the parent R01 study with which this project is formally affiliated, but also numerous other pilot and larger-scale projects that consider aspects of agriculture or pharmaceutical use or regulation of food-producing animals. None of this work would have been possible without the Ethics funding; this particular project had been on my mind for years without finding a source of resources to undertake it.

“It’s also the most appropriately-funded pilot I’ve ever undertaken. What I mean is that so many pilots have grandiose expectations and meager budgets, forcing either a clipping of the vision, an investment of additional resources, or both. This is a project where I can accomplish the vision, follow up on leads in real-time (striking while the iron is hot, so to speak), and not feel like I have to make desperate choices in order to accomplish our goals. The funding has been flexible enough to allow me to engage multiple students at many levels in this work. For example, I have two PhD students, 1 DrPH, and 2 MPH students now assisting with it, and one of the MPH students will earn her Practicum to perform this work. Finally, it allows for multidisciplinary collaboration, which has been a remarkable benefit to the work as a whole.”

Participating Faculty

Co-Principal Investigators

Meghan F. Davis, Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Health & Engineering, Bloomberg School of Public Health and Department of Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology, School of Medicine

Jessica Fanzo, Bloomberg Distinguished Associate Professor of Ethics and Global Food & Agriculture, Nitze School of Advanced International Studies; Berman Institute of Bioethics; Bloomberg School of Public Health


Christopher Heaney, Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Health & Engineering, Bloomberg School of Public Health

Keeve Nachman, Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Health & Engineering; Director, Food Production & Public Health Program, Center for a Livable Future, Bloomberg School of Public Health; Co-Director, Risk Sciences and Public Policy Institute

Sara Y. Tartof, Research Scientist, Kaiser Permanente Southern California

Joan Casey, Postdoctoral Scholar, Division of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley

Conducting Research on Commercially-Owned Online Spaces

$35,500 grant
Project Description and Presentation Video

People are increasingly spending time in online spaces that are created by commercial interests (e.g. retail sites, brand specific web pages, commercially-owned social spaces). It is critical to understand the potential impact of such spaces on the people who enter them and engage in activity within. Online spaces created by commercial entities are often restricted to certain types of people for specific purposes that are in line with the interests of the entity who created the space rather than the public good. Such restrictions potentially preclude important research that is routine within ‘real world’ commercial spaces for the promotion and protection of public health. In this proposal, we seek to understand and elucidate right and wrong action in relation to research on consequential, commercially-owned online spaces to which entry for research purposes is currently frequently prohibited through the existence of terms and conditions that preclude such action.

Participant's Summary

JHU Divisions involved: Bloomberg School of Public Health; Whiting School of Engineering; School of Medicine

Collaborations: We are now working the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard Law School to get legal input on our questions around conducting research in commercial online spaces.

Outputs: We are working on guidelines for research conducted in online spaces and we may work on a publication, if we feel that this would be beneficial to public health research. Finding the legal assistance has been key to progressing in this area.

“It was great to get faculty from around the university together to explore these issues, and now to be working with legal scholars/expertise that should help us determine how best to continue to do important research.”

Participating Faculty

Principal Investigator:

Katherine Clegg Smith, Professor, Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Bloomberg School of Public Health


Joanna Cohen, Bloomberg Professor of Disease Prevention and Director of the Institute for Global Tobacco Control, Bloomberg School of Public Health

Meghan Moran, Assistant Professor, Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Bloomberg School of Public Health

Mark Dredze, Associate Professor, Computer Science, Whiting School of Engineering

Errol L. Fields, Assistant Professor, Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine

The Ethics of Preparedness in Humanitarian Disasters

$35,955 grant
Project Description

What are the “everyday” ethical issues that affect war-adjacent professionals such as humanitarians, journalists, and scholars on the ground? How do individuals in these fields resolve them? We examine: 1.) The training that professionals such as researchers, journalists, and humanitarians working adjacent to war receive; 2.) How these individuals’ understandings of professional conduct interact with local populations’ concepts of ethical and moral behavior; and 3) How professionals’ protocols and practices subsequently evolve—or do not—in the field. Focusing on the humanitarian crises that conflicts in Syria and Iraq have produced, this project uses multi-sited, immersive fieldwork with foreign and local professionals in Iraqi Kurdistan and Lesvos, Greece to identify communities of practice, indigenous innovations, and emergent ethical tensions. Subsequent workshops in each field site bring together scholars, practitioners, and community representatives, to identify key ethical issues and discuss potential cross-field policy interventions.

Participant's Summary

Collaborations: My project is still ongoing, but there has been extensive interest from journalistic communities and overseas universities. There is currently a plan to conduct focus groups with humanitarian actors with a researcher who has embedded with USAID and a number of new conversations with prominent journalists about creating workshops to discuss ethics in conflict zones.

Outputs: There will be peer-reviewed articles, as well as a book that has attrachted interest from Columbia University Press.

Additional Funding Pursued: A collaborator and I received a grant from the American Political Science Association to develop practices for trauma-informed social science interviewing by working with psychologists/counselors/psychiatrists. I am also currently working with an international team of Public Health researchers on a 3-country project on refugees’ access to healthcare.

“We’ve been able to reach out of academia and to interact directly with practitioners in ways that would be impossible without the broad, cross-disciplinary mandate of practical ethics. We’re still collecting data, but I actually foresee collaborations with the field of journalism emerging in entirely new ways.”

Participating Faculty

Principal Investigator:

Sarah E. Parkinson, Aronson Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Studies, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and Nitze School of Advanced International Studies


Valerie De Koeijer, Graduate Student, Department of Political Science, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

Determining the Number of Refugees to be Resettled in the United States: An Ethical and Human Rights Analysis

$57,600 grant
Project Description and Presentation Video

The controversial Executive Orders by President Donald Trump on travel bans and refugees, which reduce by half the number of refugees proposed to be admitted in 2017 as compared to the Obama Administration’s determination, raise policy and ethical questions about the criteria used to determine the number of refugees admitted to the United States. This project will undertake a literature review related to ethics, human rights, policy, and refugee resettlement; conduct qualitative interviews with key informants; identify relevant ethics and human rights frameworks relevant to the question; and seek to create a framework to help guide decisions on the number of refugees to be resettled. We plan to seek feedback on our proposals and then publish them and make recommendations to policy-makers and the public based on our analysis.

Participant's Summary

JHU Divisions involved: Bloomberg School of Public Health; Berman Institute of Bioethics; Nitze School of Advanced International Studies

Collaborations: We collaborated with Daniel Serwer at SAIS, who had a very different perspective on the issues from his knowledge of the State Department and foreign service, which added a major dimension to the project.

Outputs: We are about to submit a journal article and prepare a briefing paper that summarizes the results for a policy audience.

“The project enabled us to bring together very different strands of work and thought: ethics theory along policy and value perspectives from key informant interviews. The very diverse team had lively discussions about the issues and enabled us to arrive at what we think are well-grounded conclusions that bring the strands together. We probably would not have undertaken this work without the practical ethics program.”

Participating Faculty

Principal Investigator:

Leonard Rubenstein, Senior Scientist, Department of Epidemiology, Bloomberg School of Public Health; Berman Institute of Bioethics


Govind Persad, Assistant Professor, Department of Health Policy & Management, Bloomberg School of Public Health; Berman Institute of Bioethics

Daniel Serwer, Professor, Nitze School of Advanced International Studies

Paul Spiegel, Professor of the Practice, Department of International Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health; Johns Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health

Rachel Fabi, Assistant Professor of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, SUNY Upstate Medical University

2016 Projects

Altruism, Ethics, and Markets: A Behavioral and Neuroscientific Experimental Study

$55,884 grant
Project Description and Presentation Video

This is an experimental study at the intersection of ethics, economics and neuroscience that addresses controversial economic transactions, such as receiving financial compensation for organ donation. The research team will create an experimental laboratory setting that reproduces several of the features of organ donation, and will study the ethical and economic implications of different institutional regimes of procurement. By measuring neural activity (through fMRI) and behavior, this study will provide insight into how altruism, the desire for economic gain, and the tolerance for physical pain interact to produce outcomes. The study will also consider how those interactions depend on institutional arrangements and will examine the neural mechanisms associated with people’s preferences.

Participant's Summary

JHU Divisions involved: Carey Business School, School of Medicine, Berman Institute of Bioethics, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Krieger School of Arts & Sciences

Outputs: Data collection is ongoing and is expected to be completed at the end of April 2019. Subsequently, we plan to analyze the data and write a scholarly article for submission to a scientific journal and organize a conference on The Behavioral and Neuro-biological Drivers of Pro-Social Behavior (in 2020).

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Participating Faculty

Mario Macis, Carey Business School


Vikram Chib, School of Medicine, Carey School of Business, Kennedy Krieger Institute

Jeffrey Kahn, Berman Institute of Bioethics, Bloomberg School of Public Health

Unseen: Kalief Browder, Mass Incarceration, and Solitary Confinement

$23,000 grant
Project Description

This project will grapple with the ethical responsibility of artists operating within their sociopolitical context, as well as the ethics of solitary confinement and mass incarceration of African Americans.

Unseen is inspired by the story of Kalief Browder, a 16-year old black youth who was held in prison for three years without trial, two of them in solitary confinement. Browder committed suicide two years after his release, all the while struggling with psychological trauma. The project will result in a musical composition, part of which will be shared at the Practical Ethics Symposium in January 2017.

Unseen dovetails with Professor Adashi’s composition, Rise, a collaboration with poet Tameka Cage Conley, PhD, bearing witness to America’s civil rights journey from Selma to Ferguson. Rise debuted on April 19, 2015, the same day that Freddie Gray died while in Baltimore Police custody. Gray’s death, ruled a homicide, sparked the Baltimore Uprising.

Participant's Summary

JHU Divisions involved: Peabody Institute


“I was not familiar with the Berman Institute or its mission prior to Practical Ethics. I feel that I discovered a community of like-minded people and resources at Hopkins that I might not have otherwise found, and a meaningful home for my work beyond the Peabody Institute.”

Participating Faculty

Judah Adashi, Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute

Understanding and Addressing Moral Dilemmas of Sedentarization of Pastoralists: Practical Ethics of Mitigating Conflict Amongst Water and Food Resource-Constrained Populations in the Northern Kenya Semi-Arid Lands

$50,000 grant
Project Description

Researchers will identify the constraints, conflicts, and trade-offs of three types of pastoralist livelihoods among two Kenyan tribes. They will then develop a guiding framework of ethical considerations to help stakeholders navigate the constraints on, drivers of, and conflicts about food and water resources amongst these two ethnic populations. A further project aim is to identify government policies and development agency programmatic actions that have the potential to incorporate ethical standards and rights-based approaches in addressing challenges of food and water insecurity.

Participant's Summary

JHU Divisions involved: Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Berman Institute of Bioethics

Collaborations: We developed formal research partnerships with a local Kenyan organization, Serve Women and Children Empowerment and Development Agenda (SWACEDA), to conduct the research in Isiolo, Kenya. Through this work we also engaged with Mario Herrero at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Queensland, Australia. Mario is a pastoralist and livestock production expert who we consulted on this project. We have further engaged with him by developing more formal collaborations between CSIRO and the Global Food Ethics and Policy Program (GFEPP) through the EAT LancetCommission and the Beef, Food Choice, and Values project.

Outputs: Submitted peer-reviewed paper, “Survival of the fittest”: Pastoralists’ livelihoods and capabilities in northern Kenya.” The output of this work also has informed the framing of discussions about “sustainable diets” for more marginalized communities around the world. This includes informing the framing in the LancetEAT Commission about production systems in low- and middle-income countries, and a policy brief about international development priorities for the Norwegian Government.

“The most exciting part of this work was being able to gain insight into the livelihoods and culture of producers in Kenya, and ongoing efforts to support those producers, and to understand the real-life implications of issues around climate change and sustainability in low- and middle-income countries. In particular, it used applied, practical research to understand the implications of popular policy options (including internationally, as they relate to sustainable diets) for stakeholders who are often not prioritized. We would not have accomplished this work without the Practical Ethics program.”

Participating Faculty

Principal Investigator

Jessica Fanzo, Bloomberg Distinguished Associate Professor of Ethics and Global Food & Agriculture, Nitze School of Advanced International Studies; Berman Institute of Bioethics; Bloomberg School of Public Health

Environmental Ethics in American Life: An Anthropological Inquiry

$62,240 grant
Project Description and Presentation Video

This project examines the practical ethics of the production, consumption, and disposal of disposable plastic consumer goods. Secondly and more generally, the project will also examine the cultivation of new practical relations to things through the design of more durable goods, the transformation of consumption habits, and a revaluation of disposable “waste” and its value. In addition to an undergraduate course on consumption, Dr. Pandian, Associate Professor of Anthropology, will conduct anthropological fieldwork with manufacturers, designers, consumers, activists, artists, sanitation workers, and others who have a close relationship to these materials.

Participant's Summary

JHU Divisions involved: Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

Collaborations: I worked in multiple sites along the southern border of the United States and talked with local officials, activists, and ordinary people about the idea of a wall and why it might either appeal or disturb. I also worked with producers and consumers of domestic construction and everyday technologies of security and containment to try to understand how quotidian practices of boundary-making shape desires for a wall at a larger and necessarily more abstract national level. I visited American trade shows in construction, concrete, and plastic to see how professionals in these fields think about the analogies between everyday technologies of containment and a national politics of containment, and interviewed promoters and developers of gated communities, home alarm systems, and other infrastructures of domestic security.

Outputs: Completing work on a manuscript intended for a wide public audience, tentatively called “Impervious: How Americans Learned to Wall Themselves In.” I have given academic talks about this work at the University of Southern California, UCLA, UMBC, the University of Washington, and Rice University. I gave a public talk at Bird in Hand bookstore in Baltimore recently, and am working on an op-ed to synthesize my findings.

Additional Funding: $75,000 JHU Catalyst Grant

“By pursuing the questions that have emerged is this project, I aim to shed new anthropological light on one of the most pressing questions of our time: why, at a moment when so many global perils like climate change demand transnational action and imagination, many Americans have opted instead for isolating walls and barriers. This is work that I could not have accomplished without the sabbatical time that the Practical Ethics grant afforded, and for this I am very grateful.”

Participating Faculty

Anand Pandian, associate professor and director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Anthropology, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

Transforming Moral Distress

$45,000 grant
Project Description and Presentation Video

This project seeks to identify characteristics and behaviors of people who are morally resilient– able to sustain or recover moral wellbeing in the face of moral threats, distress, and challenges. By speaking to workers in different settings, the project will establish empirical evidence for a new, normative understanding of human moral capabilities in response to moral distress.

Participant's Summary

JHU Divisions involved: Carey Business School, School of Nursing, Berman Institute of Bioethics, School of Medicine

Outputs:One article in revision for the Journal of Business Ethicsand we have presented several times at academic conferences.

“The grant was instrumental in developing a new line of thought in business and workplace ethics. It has taken longer than expected to develop and disseminate the concepts of moral wellbeing and moral ergonomics, but these ideas are slowly gaining traction.”

Participating Faculty

Lindsay Thompson, Associate Professor, Carey Business School, Bloomberg School of Public Health

Sylvia Long-Tolbert, Assistant Professor of Marketing, Carey Business School

Cynda Rushton, Anne and George L. Bunting Professor of Clinical Ethics and Nursing in the School of Nursing, School of Medicine, and Berman Institute of Bioethics

The Practical Ethics of University Community Engagement: Lessons from the Local and Global

$35,850 grant
Project Description and Presentation Video

The project explores ethical issues that arise out of the historical legacies of racial and class inequalities, both within the university and between the university and community. Through a year-long General Seminar involving faculty and students, the project will critically examine experiences with community-based learning/research, service-learning and university transformation, with a special emphasis on learning from the experiences of colleagues facing analogous challenges around the world, from the UK to China and South Africa.

Participant's Summary

JHU Divisions involved: Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.

Collaborations: Counterparts with experience in university community engagement in UK, South Africa and China; Outreach to community groups in Baltimore

Outputs: The practical ethics of university community engagement has become one of the ongoing priority themes of the Arrighi Center for Global Studies. Last year we began a new ongoing collaboration with a South African documentary filmmaker. Next academic year he will be doing a series of mini courses at JHU. We will also have a conference in fall 2019 inviting leaders of the new rural reconstruction movement in China.

Funding: To date, donor-related fundraising (some received, some pending).

“Seed money enabled us to do some intense focused work on practical ethics, which has now become a key ongoing component of the Arrighi Center’s mission.”

Participating Faculty

Beverly Silver, professor and chair, Krieger School of Arts and SciencesDepartment of Sociology, Director, Arrighi Center for Global Studies

Daniel Pasciuti, assistant research scientist, Krieger School of Arts and SciencesDepartment of Sociology and Arrighi Center for Global Studies

Understanding the Ethics and Value of Higher Education: When is Highly Specialized Training “Worth It”?

$47,609 grant
Project Description

This project’s researchers are collaborating to develop a framework for understanding the ethical commitments of educational organizations that provide specialized training in fields where stable job opportunities are sparse and future pecuniary rewards are uncertain, and to administer a broad survey of Peabody alumni assessing the perceived value of their education. The proposed project is an exciting opportunity to develop metrics of educational value that are not easily summarized by quantitative methods, and to apply ethics to practical questions that are of interest to scholars, education administrators, policy makers, and citizens.

Participant's Summary

JHU Divisions involved: Carey Business School, Peabody Institute

Collaboration: The Practical Ethics project allowed me to spend two years working with the Peabody Conservatory to understand their operations, their current challenges, as well as the experiences of their students and alumni.

Outputs: We are developing a manuscript to submit to Academy of Management Learning and Educationbased on data from over 500 Peabody alumni who were surveyed in our project. In addition, we developed new avenues for future research — such as exploring the life trajectories of those who pursued formal training in music vs. those who had the opportunity to do so, but chose instead to pursue more traditional educational pathways.

“There is no way this project would have been conceived, let alone completed, without the Practical Ethics initiative and its role in bringing the co-investigators together. Thank you!”

Participating Faculty

Erik Helzer, Carey Business School

Andrew Talle, Peabody Institute

Can God Stop the Next Financial Crisis? Prospects for a Consequentialist Ethics of Islamic Financial Engineering

$37,369 grant
Project Description

This project will undertake a qualitative analysis of the ethical arguments underlying Islamic banking. Islamic banks hold high market share in some of the largest economies in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, including Saudi Arabia (49%), Kuwait (45%), Qatar (24%), the United Arab Emirates (21%), and Malaysia (21%). By studying the practical ethics of these institutions, researchers will investigate the stability of Islamic banking, and whether or not Islamic law demands that Islamic banking be stable. This inquiry will provide insight into the potential for a future financial crisis within Islamic banking, or the effects of a larger crisis on this growing sector. It will also provide insight into potential approaches to mitigating the risk that a financial crisis will occur.

Participant's Summary

Collaborations: I was able to collaborate with researchers from the Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan’s top university, and the Institute of Business Administration-Karachi, one of Pakistan’s leading universities, in conducting research on the attitudes of Pakistanis toward Islamic banking and religious scholars’ oversight of financial activity. I also conducted research in collaboration with Meezan Bank, Pakistan’s largest Islamic bank. Scholars and industry figures at all three of these institutions remain eager to engage in future intellectual and professional collaborations with Johns Hopkins.

Outputs: One peer-reviewed article in Socio-Economic Review, the top journal of economic sociology, will be coming out in summer 2019. It is entitled “How religio-economic projects succeed and fail: the field dynamics of Islamic finance in the Arab Gulf states and Pakistan, 1975–2018”. Another article, “The halal boom: Market-driven desecularization” is under review at Sociological Theory. Research funded by the grant was also invaluable in supporting the book manuscript I am currently writing, which I will submit to publishers in 2020.

“Without the Practical Ethics funding, I could not have put together a research team to conduct 70 interviews with Pakistanis in Lahore and Karachi from wide-ranging social classes and backgrounds, from CEOs to shopkeepers to house cleaners, and to conduct extensive industry interviews in Oman and the United Arab Emirates as well.”

Participating Faculty

Ryan Calder, assistant professor of sociology and Islamic studies, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

Practical Ethics for Future Leaders: Interdisciplinary Education Modules for Innovation

$80,000 grant
Project Description and Presentation Video

The team will design an interdisciplinary ethics course for undergraduates in the Whiting School of Engineering. The course will consist of two modules: Module One will convey the history and importance of practical ethics, explore its basic vocabulary and style of reasoning, and cultivate skills in active participation in deliberation. Module Two will focus on group discussions, each of which must end in a decision on the action to be taken in a given ethical scenario. The ethical scenario at hand will be current and actionable, and students must form a plan of action at the end of the course.

Participating Faculty

Feilim Mac Gabhann, Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Institute for Computational Medicine, Whiting School of Engineering

Israel Gannot, Associate Research Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Whiting School of Engineering

Debra Mathews, Associate Professor, Berman Institute of Bioethics and the Department of Pediatrics in the School of Medicine

Participant's Summary

Collaborations: Many conversations and new relationships, both at JHU and with educators at other universities, have developed from the Practical Ethics project. Many people recognize the importance of ethics education (in particular how to deal with ‘gray area’ ethics as our course does), but don’t know how to do it or how to do it at scale. We are sharing how!

Outputs: We are working on at least one journal article. We anticipate public dissemination through media this year as the course has grown from 17 students in the first year to 171 students in the fourth year. We are also planning a conference presentation.

“Teaching the course is an amazing experience each time. New students bring new ideas and perspectives, and we add new ethics topics every year (including some suggested by the students). My philosophy is to create courses that I wished I’d had available to me when I was student, and the program has allowed us to do that and the students have really responded. Without the program, we would likely never have developed the course, never taught it the first time to 17 students as a pilot, and never scaled it up to 171 students this year.”