MSU Center offers new tools to weigh various information

MSU Center offers new tools to weigh various information

MSU is a new center at Montana State University. It provides tools to aid people in evaluating scientific claims and considering the social, ethical, and policy implications of technology and science.


The MSU Center for Science, Technology, Ethics, and Society aims to aid in evaluating how science and technology can help our communities while also encouraging critical thinking and promoting interdisciplinary research.


Jason Carter, the MSU vice president of Research, Graduate Education and Economic Development, stated that the center is well-positioned to make a national impact.


According to Carter, the fast advancements within various technologies and science growth areas, such as pandemic responsiveness or artificial intelligence, require an intentional and rigorous eye toward the societal and ethical impacts. He believes that the STES can be a major contributor in this space.


The new center and the services it offers come at a time when society is confronting both a Covid-19 pandemic and political division – noted Kristen Intemann, the STES director and professor of philosophy at MSU.


She added that there are many questions about what policies we should adopt in responding to the pandemic, as well as ethical questions about how to allocate medical resources. Furthermore, there is also uncertainty about what makes scientific research reliable or trustworthy.


And while the coronavirus pandemic gives urgency to these questions, a variety of ethical concerns remain that we all face at the intersection of public and science policy, from gene-editing technologies to mental health challenges, to climate change, to technologies that drive social media.


However, addressing these challenges requires that communities begin conversations about what we value and how technology and science might better benefit our health, environment, food, or inform policies – noted Intemann.


What does the MSU center offer and provide? 


The purpose of the center is threefold: It cultivates ethical thinking and behavior in research; It facilitates interdisciplinary research, along with collaborations among faculty and students, particularly on the ways that technology, science, and medicine impact vulnerable populations and rural communities. And afterward, it communicates the results of scientific research to the public.


The center has already hosted forums on the origins of coronavirus featuring David Quammen, who wrote the book “Spillover” and Raina Plowright, MSU professor of microbiology and immunology.


Furthermore, the center offers various courses and promotes research opportunities to MSU students, allowing them to gain skills in ethical reasoning and science communication. MSU group also introduces social sciences students to scientific research.