Weekly Writing Assignments
Each week starting the second week of class, students must answer each of the study questions in a paragraph or so in the body of an email. These assignments are due each week at 11:59 pm the night before class.
Requirements for Students Taking the Course for More than 6 Units
Course version 6.9041
For students in the 6.9041 version (12 units, Independent Inquiry), an additional 6 hours per week working on a project related to ethics and electical engineering / computer science is required. The student is expected to turn in a 20–25 page paper by the last class, in which the ethical and technical issues of a problem are analyzed. Students should start exploring options for their project area right away, and in addition to the work for the 6 unit version of the course, should email the following to their instructors as follows:
- Week 2: Submit 1–2 pages outlining various topics of inquiry, or one topic if student has already chosen it
- Week 3: Narrow down choice of topic and relate it to instructors
- Week 4: Provide detailed 1–2 page outline of project, including initial references
- Week 5: Further develop outline and list of key references
- Week 6: Start writing about the key issues and outline calculations, programming, and other technical aspects of the project
- Week 7: Continue to work on project and hand in current work product
- Week 8: Develop key ethical issues and hand in current work product
- Week 9: Develop key technical issues and hand in current work product
- Week 10: Start synthesis of ethical and technical issues; hand in current work product
- Week 11: Continue to work on project; hand in current work product
- Week 12: Continue to work on project; hand in current work product
- Last class: Full project due
Grading: the final project will count for 50% of the final grade.
Course version 20.005
For students in the 20.005 version (9 units, BE restricted elective), an additional 3 hours per week working on a project related to ethics and BE is required. The student is expected to turn in a 10–15 page paper by the last class, in which the ethical and technical issues of a problem are analyzed. This project is a chance for you to explore in greater depth a subject in biological engineering of particular interest to you that has ethical implications. We are open to any subject that relates to bioengineering and ethics, but some possible general topics include exploring the ethics of Crispr/Cas-9, cloning, stem cell research, human testing, GMOs, or human-animal hybrids.
There are many websites with links to research materials on these and related subjects, one of which is The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity.
As a general guideline, we expect you to work on this project for three hours per week throughout the semester. The paper should analyze both the technical and ethical issues involved, aiming roughly for 50% technical and 50% ethical focus, though we’re flexible on exact proportions (70/30 in either direction is fine). You should not attempt to discuss all of the ethical theories we have covered in class; it is usually best to consider the one or two most relevant theories, and explain why you find them to be most appropriate in considering your subject.
The timeline for work on the project is as follows:
- Week 3: Submit a paragraph or so describing the subject matter of inquiry
- Week 6: Provide a detailed outline of the project, including key references
- Week 12: Finalize project
- Last class: Full project due
Grading: the final project will count for 33% of the final grade.
For both of these versions, regular discussions with instructors are expected.