Field Journal, 2021 Scholars, Week 3

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  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?
  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

Please answer these questions by creating a post of your own! In addition, please plan on responding to another student’s post that you find interesting. Scroll down to the bottom of the entry and hit “Leave a comment”. Leave your reply in the box provided.

Remember: you should post your own responses by Friday. You should respond to another student’s response by Sunday. I look forward to discussing your reflections with you!

Ariella Lang

Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Director of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships, Columbia University

I am a cultural historian by training, and I oversee undergraduate research and fellowships at Columbia. I also have the pleasure of serving as the coordinator of Columbia's Laidlaw program. Feel free to reach out to me if you have questions about coming to Columbia to pursue research and/or community engagement!

Comments

Go to the profile of Jeffrey Xiong
about 1 month ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

Since I'm conducting research on a vulnerable community, one key ethical issue is the exploitative relationship between academia and the population. In particular, one of the more prominent fears is the use of a community as a tool of personal professional advancement, a sort of study from a privileged position without fundamentally relating to or identifying with the community. A way I try to avoid this exploitation is by contacting people within my own community and reaching out to personal networks so there is less of an external academic study and more of a resource for uplifting within an in-group.

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

Unfortunately, the literature base is quite small to the point where the capacity for "alternative viewpoints" is quite limited -- there's very limited space for alternative viewpoints if the original viewpoint is not well established. Still, I try to keep an open mind during oral history interviews, especially since some go in a different way than I expect.

Go to the profile of Victor Jandres Rivera
about 1 month ago

I feel like I can relate to how this research can feel like an exploitative relationship. We interview such vunerable students to essentially extract their trauma, and they are not necessarily compensated. Although the research has benevolent intentions, these students are not recieving any benefits from it. Any meaning change that happens as a result of the findings may not even have an impact until the kids interviewed are already done with schooling. Whether it be dropping out, graduating, or some other way out of highschool, these kids may very well be long gone by the time they can get anything out of the research. It just seems unilateral. 

Go to the profile of Suan Lee
about 1 month ago

Hi Jeffrey! Your concerns about inadvertently excluding the actual communities whose stories are scrutinized in academia from your research definitely resonates with me and is something I've been thinking a lot about, too. I'd love to hear more about how you've been navigating this and the oral history work you've been doing.

Hi Jeffrey!

While we're in somewhat different fields/using different methodologies, your answer to that first question has really resonated with me. It definitely feels like there are some tricky dynamics that emerge in conducting research on some part of a community you identify with—especially when that community has been marginalized or left out, and with the prestige/privilege that seems to come with "success" in academia that can so quickly make things exploitative, as you pointed out so well here. Your attempt to reconcile this with a goal of uplifting the community you are doing research about, by building and reaching out to personal networks, is thoughtful and inspiring to read. I hope research this next week goes well for you—and would love to hear more about how your work is evolving, especially through this approach!

-Mrinalini

Go to the profile of Victor Jandres Rivera
about 1 month ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

In our research we have to deal with balancing wanting to help and ensure the safety of our subjects while also respecting their wants and boundaries. The subjects of the study are all immigrants from other countries that have dealt with extraordinary conditions to result in them attending one of the Internationals School Network. Students reveal being human trafficked, dealing with abuse, being paid under minimum wage, and other horrific crimes committed against them. Since many students are undocumented or even have active deportation orders, many students decide that they do not want any assistance or authority involvement. This leaves researchers with a dilemma. Them respecting the desire of the immigrant origin students means that they may possibly be doing more harm than good.

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

The alternative viewpoints generally paint the Internationals schools network as subpar and underperforming compared to other schools. We take those stereotypes and misconceptions and find out how the school system is flawed and stacked against English Learner Students. Those other viewpoints proved vital information needed to prove how harmful state practices have been on an already vulnerable population. 

Go to the profile of Joanne Park
about 1 month ago

I also relate to the research dilemma that you identified; it's tough to be studying the lives of people who have undergone a lot of hardship, especially when the research process might ender them vulnerable. While it seems intuitive to prioritize the immediate safety of the individuals in question, it also feels important to deliver results that might result in more macro-level change in the long run. I hope that you figure out a good way to strike that balance as you work on your research in the next few weeks!

Go to the profile of Eva Brander Blackhawk
about 1 month ago

I really like your point about how the schools are labeled as sub-par. I know in my studies it's a similar situation. This school in California was originally established as one of the boarding schools which was extremely violent and hurtful towards Native American students. Even now students will be suspended for speaking their traditional language (which seems so outdated) and the native students are suspended at twice the rate of the white students. One of the people interviewed though noted that if the school is already "not doing well" or not doing things right so to speak that they might as well try something different and create a new curriculum focused on local history and language. I wonder if the same could be said here in that changing the structure of the school won't make the school "bad" if it already is underperforming. If anything trying something new only has the opportunity of making things better. 

Go to the profile of Joanne Park
about 1 month ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

One ethical issue that comes up in philosophy of education is the exploitation of minority/marginalized voices as objects of study. As in, academia has a tendency to take the experiences and viewpoints of people who do not necessarily have access to power and privilege, and study it disrespectfully with the intention of personal gain. Given that my project analyzes the teaching of philosophy in difficult circumstances (e.g. prisons), it seems necessary for me to help strike a balance between effective teaching of material and seeing the imprisoned individuals as "test subjects" to be studied for my own good. To prevent dehumanization, I'm primarily focusing on the interviews and testimonials from Prof. Mercer's students, understanding that material as an authoritative source/something to teach me what happens in prisons, rather than something I personally should be "improving".

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

Yes, something that's come up for me a lot is the functionalist, career-focused model of education, which rejects the teaching of "soft", humanities disciplines and emphasizes the need for people to build career skills. Given that philosophy does not always directly translate into money making skills, it seems prudent for me to identify why learning and working with philosophy can produce portable skills. However, this opposing viewpoint has also compelled me to justify why it is valuable to learn things that may not always directly translate into a career; for example, certain philosophers might help someone better understand the conditions under which they've been imprisoned, while others may help build moral virtue. 

Go to the profile of Hassan Javed
about 1 month ago

You bring up a very valid ethical issue here, Joanne, and it reminds of a piece of literature I remember reading: Body Ritual among the Nacirema. It's a satirical piece that brings to light how academia - specifically anthropologists - tend to misconstrue the representation of other demographic groups. Because academia tends to view a certain demographic group with the agenda of making conclusions that fit their pre-established hypothesis - textbook confirmation bias - they will misrepresent and misconstrue their narratives all while dehumanizing them to, as you say best, "test subjects." While the literature I mention revolves around how we tend to view other nationalities/cultures in a condescending, goal-driven light, it can definitely be applied to the domestic study of minority/marginalized peoples in America.

Go to the profile of Eleanor Campbell
about 1 month ago

Hi Joanne, 

I really like how you're considering the ethical issues at play in your work. It seems like such a tricky line to walk: making sure that underrepresented communities aren't overlooked in education while also making sure that they don't simply become objects in our educational practice. On either extreme we're doing a disservice to them and to ourselves, but it's so hard to stay in between. You seem to be having all the right thoughts on this, and I hope you're able to bring them into fruition.

Go to the profile of Hassan Javed
about 1 month ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

One of the ethical issues in my research surrounds the issue of displacing workers and creating unemployment. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, although disastrous for Pakistan's economy because of high interest rates and ownership seizure, does provide jobs. There are many positions open through the Gwadar Port, highways, power plants, and the other infrastructure the initiative has created through out the country. And, to reduce the detriment CPEC brings to Pakistan's economy, my research will center around restricting Chinese involvement through ownership transfers and domestic infrastructure investments. Although, because Pakistan's infrastructural prowess is not at the same level as China's, we can expect some scale of downsizing - which may bring unemployment, temporary economic stagnation, and other issues.

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

Influenced by the ethical issue of creating economic stagnation by nationalizing foreign infrastructure projects, I have recently began considering an alternative viewpoint in my investigation. Under this lens, instead of gaining ownership of these projects, Pakistan can benefit from CPEC by campaigning for more favorable loan agreements. These can ensure that at a micro-level, at the very least, job security is not threatened due to a consistent presence of a revenue source - China. 

Go to the profile of Angel Rose Latt
about 1 month ago

Hi Hassan,

The sensitive nature of the economic situation and initiatives between China and Pakistan seem inherently difficult due to their ethical consequences for both parties as a result of economic stagnation that you pointed out. I am interested to see how potential resolutions will be able to reconcile these issues at hand and continue to play out in the future. In addition to your research on economic resolutions, diving a bit more into social consequences of threat to personhood and livelihood as a result of these economic decisions and landmarks could call forth more perspectives and implications from a more sociological, anthropological, and political standpoint. 

Go to the profile of Jacqueline Yu (she/her)
about 1 month ago

Hi Hassan!

The ethical issue that you mention is incredibly interesting and demonstrates how our theoretical research could have real-life, devastating implications for a broad range of people. It seems to me that you are, to put it very, very simply, grappling with a generally bad thing that occasionally does good things. I am experiencing the same difficulty with the concept of a universal museum. In my opinion, the duality/complexity to these issues make them such interesting topics of study; as your alternative viewpoints response proves, there are so many routes that one could take to solve this problem. I look forward to hearing more about how you deal with this potential effect in your research!

Go to the profile of Joachim Jose Mendoza Rillo
about 1 month ago

Hey Hassan!

You bring up a good point with the ethical issue of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. I'd also like to point out that, empirically, these sorts of agreements which provide small benefits with significant long-term consequences often create an unhealthy codependency culture which can hinder a country's development in the long-term.

Best of luck with your project :)

Go to the profile of Angel Rose Latt
about 1 month ago

What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

As I learn more about the topic of memory through a psychological and neurological lens with a possible end goal to test the method of loci (MoL) technique for more practical usages, there is the possibility that this technique could change the way we approach learning, for better or worse. MoL can change our engrained understanding of memorization, which is purely memorizing things and perhaps forgetting about it after we have been tested on memorization. Through MoL, standards for how we learn may change in our modern-day education or examination procedures. In a society already saturated with disparities that come with privilege and wealth, tapping into this new method of learning has the possibility of, like many things, becoming privatized and profited.  Although there is still much to learn about the MoL technique itself, it has the potential to break ground in areas of education and learning. Through better understanding and research on this technique, we can ensure that everyone has equal access to new information on this technique and how to utilize the MoL wherever people may find fit. 

As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

Looking over recent data from our study with control subjects who are learning the MoL for the first time and using it to remember a set of words, it is interesting to see how the MoL can be implemented in those with degenerative memory. I am curious to see if using this technique for basic but important personal information can help those with Alzheimers or dementia before the onset of their memory loss symptoms or in more common cases of natural memory loss as a result of aging. 

Go to the profile of Avi J Adler
about 1 month ago

I think it is really interesting to think about how are our research is going to be used in the future. Why and how varying research changes people's thoughts or actions is daunting, but also crucial to consider when conducting research. This is something that I have not personally done yet, but after reading your comment I am certain it will now sit in the back of my mind. This sounds like something you have thought through, and I can't wait to see where your research goes!

Go to the profile of Avi J Adler
about 1 month ago

What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

My research focuses on fruit flies, but over the past few weeks I have begun to think about how animals in general are used in scientific research. Although many will object, I strongly believe that the cost is often worth the reward; we cannot rule out using animal subjects in scientific studies. The advances in scientific research accomplished utilizing animal testing are profound and undeniable. Most everything in the world today is implicated; from vaccine and drug development to the foods we eat. The world as we know it today would simply not exist without live testing.

More in line with my research, some animals, called 'model organisms,' are of particular use to science because of their simplicity as well as a vast body of literature on them. I will be using one of these such animals, Drosophila Melanogaster (also known as fruit flies). The Genome of Drosophila is well characterized and highly manipulable, making it a perfect system to examine the effects of the proteins I am interested in.

As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

I try at every stage in my research to consider alternate viewpoints. This is the hallmark of all basic science research: approaching results and data from a variety of vantage points. This ensures one is not trapped (often unknowingly) in an array of biases, all of which can affect results. Although I am not at this stage, when one is drawing conclusions, it is most critical to think about, and sometimes be able to argue for, an alternate viewpoint, especially when it is in contrast to your own. Doing so strengthens the conclusions you draw and ensures a more precise and accurate description of what one is researching. In specific to my research, I find myself often assuming previous literature is correct and has assumed all the possibilities. In the spirit of considering alternative viewpoints, this habit is something I am hoping to break.

Go to the profile of Dennis Zhang
about 1 month ago

Hi Avi!

I've definitely grappled with the ethical issue of using live animal models before. Granted, the idea of working on mouse models (as opposed to fruit flies) fills me with more dread (for better or worse). It's interesting how, outside of the logic we employ in coming to terms with ethical dilemmas like these, visceral and emotional intuitions can also guide our deliberations. In the end, I wholeheartedly agree with you in that the benefits of using live models outweigh the cons - although you hopefully won't catch me experimenting on mice anytime soon.

Go to the profile of Suan Lee
about 1 month ago

1. What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

I've been thinking a lot about how to make my research more accessible to a public audience beyond Columbia. I'm interested in learning more about digital and public humanities, and potentially creating an online exhibit or contributing to the Ambedkar Initiative's podcast at the end of the summer in addition to making a poster. Because my research involves examining the ways in which various American intellectuals informed B.R. Ambedkar's own ideas and activism, I've also been wary of inadvertently minimizing Ambedkar's legacy as a pioneering intellectual in his own right.

2. As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

To be frank, I've spent the last two weeks doing preliminary research as the microfilms I needed for my assignment only arrived yesterday. I haven't made enough progress to have a firmly established viewpoint yet, but I'm keeping the bias workshop we did our first week of Laidlaw in mind as I dive deeper into my work. 

Go to the profile of Jeffrey Xiong
about 1 month ago

Hi Suan! I think adding some of your work to the Ambedkar Initiative would be a fantastic idea, although you definitely would have to do some work to tailor it more in line to the Initiative's goals and mission. I do think that it would be a great way to make your work, whatever direction it is in, more accessible, so best of luck!

Go to the profile of Dennis Zhang
about 1 month ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

My research team will soon be interviewing individuals who are categorized as "biomedically underrepresented" according to precision medicine research guidelines. Within these communities, there are many layers of history and social dynamics that have engendered a general distrust of academic/research institutions. As such, my team and I are constantly grappling with the tension between our own positioning as academics (and the associated connotations) and the necessary trust-building we'll need in order to facilitate open (and thereby insightful) conversations. Towards ethical trust-building, I think it is very important to acknowledge these connotations (and the historical precedents that have given rise to them) rather than ignore or try to erase them.

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

Qualitative research like mine tends to be an iterative process. As such, I'm in regular conversation with my research team to go over findings thus far and consider alternative viewpoints / directions to take. At the end of the day, we do these exercises in good faith that alternative viewpoints will either strengthen our arguments or show us different research directions that strengthen our project overall.

Go to the profile of Adina Cazacu-De Luca
27 days ago

Hi Dennis, 

Thank you for sharing about your research process! I'm curious, which groups count as "biomedically underrepresented"? Does the definition include socioeconomic status as well as race and ethnicity? I've been reading an interesting book on the intersection of race and class disparities in medicine, Infections and Inequalities by Paul Farmer, that covers the impacts of poverty on healthcare quality in the global AIDs crisis. The book takes a medical anthropology approach, and I'm curious about your team's methods. What will interviews look like? Do you have a standard questionnaire where each participant will be asked the same questions, or are you taking more of an oral history approach? What has your team discussed in terms of the benefits/limitations of either approach in answering your research questions? I'm interested in continuing to follow your project in the coming weeks!!! Good luck!

Best,

Adina

Go to the profile of Roberta Hannah
about 1 month ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

I haven't personally come across any ethical issues, but I can see where they might occur. With oral histories, it's really important to make sure that the person's story is being told accurately. With my work especially, I try my best to match dates and if unknown, make sure unknown information is clearly labeled as such.

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

There aren't any alternate viewpoints as it relates to the research because it is a book, but there is a theme of conflicting opinions among the interviewees. When asked about their views on the Black LGBT community as it relates to healthcare, social life, etc., you can see where their life experiences influence their beliefs. I think this is really enriching because it disproves the notion that marginalized communities have monolithic experiences. Even though many of these people have multiple marginalized identities, there is still a level of privilege they can hold. Some come from educated families or families that valued education. Even something like having parents is a luxury for some of the elders because a number were immediately given up for adoption.

Go to the profile of Jacqueline Yu (she/her)
about 1 month ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

My project is focusing on museum ethics, so every aspect of my work grapples with ethical issues. However, in terms of methodology-related ethical questions, I often find myself combatting many of my personal biases. It is very difficult to not immediately deride an article that argues against all of your preconceived notions. For example, while reading the infamous 2002 statement released by several universal museums in defense of their existence, I had an extended internal argument with myself about how I should approach these ideas that I disagreed with. Due to our workshops and previous experience in research, I know that an unbiased and open approach to a broad range of sources is most conducive to a well-rounded and insightful paper, and I think this mindset is especially important when it comes to super-charged questions with broad ethical implications like my project. I have been trying to ameliorate the negative effects of this issue by forcing myself to critically look at and digest sources that counter my current stance. 

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

This is kind of related to my answer to the previous question, but, in my research, I have considered some viewpoints that I thought I would stringently disagree with. Despite my initial bias against these sources, I found some pretty interesting implications and assumptions in their arguments that allowed me to understand their perspective much more and enriched my conception of the purpose of a museum. These explorations into the opposite side made me realize that I need to set up my basis of understanding for my readers in order to properly explain my reasoning. 

Go to the profile of Meghan Rose Forcellati
about 1 month ago

Interesting! What aspect of museum ethics are you working on? I have worked at the American Museum of Natural History for many years now. If you would like insights from my end to assist in your project, or contacts I have, I would love to help out! There is a very difficult balance to maintain between museum work and colonialism. Museums create some of the best thinkers for generations and help with new technology, but they have also inspired some of the worst intellectual traditions and atrocities in the modern era. 

Go to the profile of Joachim Jose Mendoza Rillo
about 1 month ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

My task of research under my PIs involves mostly database scavenging for subsidy media coverage, so I believe there are not many ethical issues I currently have to grapple with. However, one potential concern in the overall research project we are doing includes an ethical side for firms; do they ethically use the subsidies given by the government for ESG goals (eg. increasing employment within the region, committing to environmentally friendly production, etc.)?

Furthermore, a potential ethical concern is the intent behind media—journalism can often be used for ulterior motives such as political campaigns, and it is important that I keep that in mind as I note key numerical details from articles. A way I'm counteracting this is looking for multiple articles which cover the same subsidy in order to gain a more nuanced perspective.

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

My research project involves collecting data first BEFORE exploring various viewpoints. Economics at the academia level involves extremely heavy math, making it very logic-oriented and, at times, not open to alternative viewpoints. However, I do plan to consider alternate viewpoints as I work with my PIs to explore the next steps of this paper once the raw data has been sorted out.

Go to the profile of Alisha Arshad
about 1 month ago

Joachim, the point you make with media literacy is interesting! Although I am examining congressional journals, I am often reminded of how differently media can portray issues, especially controversial ones like abortion, for example (a topic I'm researching). In seeing this phenomenon, I am all the more cautious about how I consume information and where I consume it from (lots from fast social media, so I hope to be as careful as possible!). 

Go to the profile of Rizwan Kazi
17 days ago

I definitely get your second point on the lack of alternative viewpoints. In many ways, I think economics ends up being like an echo chamber, as different schools of economics have fundamentally different theoretical foundations and go off to extend in different directions. The worst thing is that these schools outright dismiss their peers, whereas each school of theory holds some merit.

Go to the profile of Mrinalini Sisodia Wadhwa
about 1 month ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

One of the ethical issues that has been on my mind a lot this week is how my own social position impacts my engagement with my research topic, early 20th C. Indian women’s rights activism through the writings of Mahadevi Varma. At times, I find myself asking if I would have even conceived of the project if I didn’t in some way identify with or take some pride in the history of these activists, as a young woman who was mostly raised in India myself, with very little exposure to their work growing up. However, given the subjectivity of my own experiences—and the social privileges that has come with having exposure to an American education and now the resources of this fellowship at Columbia—this also causes me to to pause and question if I am leaving out or forgetting elements of this narrative. I grow concerned about speaking for a population that faced the double-bind of colonial rule and intense, orthodox patriarchy—constraints I have been privileged not to live through, seeing the repercussions or remnants of in my own life, but not the full extent—in my desire to bring Indian women’s activism into scholarly conversation.

To grapple with these concerns, I have been trying, as often as I can (especially as this is a historical topic), to scrutinize my analysis and annotations for hints of ‘presentism,’ to read reference sources on Hindi literature from this period (to do a better job of contextualizing Varma’s work), and to engage with as many Hindi sources as possible (with my limited proficiency) to avoid excluding scholarship from the Indian academy/inadvertently casting a Western lens. I am also hoping to learn from scholars of gender and colonialism on how they conceive of, and respond to, these ethical questions, since they would have much more background in these themes than I do; I am looking forward to hearing one such perspective on this in a meeting with the translator of Varma’s political essays and a South Asian history professor, Anita Anantharam, tomorrow.

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

Unfortunately, there is not as much scholarship on Varma’s work—especially in the Western academy—available as there is for more mainstream figures who write primarily in English. This being said, one interesting alternative perspective that came up in an article I was reading was the representativeness of a figure like Varma. The author had seen her work as revolutionarizing, but also noted that she was writing at a time when less than 2% of Indian women were literate (as she was), and most were married as children and expected to abandon their education by age 16, at latest; in this sense, Varma—who had resisted her child marriage, and surprisingly was successful in doing so—was an aberration. Seeing this alternate perspective made me realize that when introducing this research, I do want to offer a more nuanced assessment of what Varma’s body of work signifies, for Indian women more broadly, as one of the few pieces of early 20th C. Indian women’s writings (compared to their male or Western counterparts) we have available as researchers. This process has prompted me to think more deeply about how her personal background was similar or different to others from her community, and how that personal background could inform her political/public positions on the status of Hindu wives.

Go to the profile of Alisha Arshad
about 1 month ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

Some of my research is examining abortion bills produced from the 1950s to the 1990s. It is quite interesting how many different stances there are on abortion, ranging from completely banning it, to banning late-term procedures, and to allowing it almost completely. Through researching these bills, I've discovered numerous ethical arguments that surround abortion, many of which are based on moral, religious, psychological, and philosophical viewpoints. Although I may have my own stance on the issue, I try my best to look at the bills neutrally while researching, although that is quite difficult! 

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

I am still working on procuring data for my research, but I hope that further analysis allows for alternative viewpoints to come up!

Go to the profile of Roberta Hannah
28 days ago

Hello! I also definitely struggle with looking at pieces without thinking about my own beliefs and opinions. When reading my interviews, I had to retell the transcripts based on what they said and not my historical context of their statements, so it was so hard! It helped a little bit to read the pieces and take summary notes so I don’t mix them with my own ideas and opinions.

Go to the profile of Meghan Rose Forcellati
about 1 month ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

Emus are illegal to export from Australia today; these laws were only enacted in the 1950s. The majority of the specimens we work with are therefore farmed in America. American emus are descendants from those which were imported here before Australia implemented protectionist policies towards its native wildlife. One ethical issue I am grappling with is how to reconcile changes in conservatory beliefs with export laws. Export laws were created to prevent robbing countries of their heritage and identity. However, zoos and even commercial farms also act as reservoirs for these organisms should disease or habitat loss drive them near extinction. Furthermore, emu farms and emus in zoos are valuable for scientific research. How can we balance an individual country's autonomy with this need to protect and preserve wildlife, along with historical precedent to keep any organisms which were exported before laws were implemented? For instance, it would be particularly difficult to take every Australian animal in a farm or zoo in the United States and return it to Australia. At the same time, it seems somewhat disrespectful to be stockpiling animals which have such important cultural significance. Another ethical question I am grappling with is how to ensure that studying these birds is respectful towards Aboriginal peoples. For instance, I am trying to read more about the cultural significance emus had for Aboriginal peoples, to see if I can better represent them or acknowledge them through my research. Even if my research cannot directly represent them, I would like to, when engaging with the public, try my best to raise awareness towards their culture. 

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

I am not sure if this counts as an alternative viewpoint specifically, but as mentioned previously, I have been trying to read more about the significance emus have had culturally for Aboriginal peoples. It has inspired me to try to see if I can come into contact with archaeological or historical documents, and perhaps interact with the Aboriginal peoples themselves, to see if they have any insights into the emu behavior, which is understudied. Although this likely would not affect my study on emu brain evolution, it may lead to follow-up studies down the line. 

Go to the profile of Eleanor Campbell
about 1 month ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?
  • I think the main ethical issue with my project is making sure this gap year program is accessible to the people who would benefit from it the most. I was reading something the other day about how we should view gap years in relation to the college admissions scandal from a couple of years ago. Paradoxically, the people who needed entry to college the least--those who already had money and connections that would allow them to be successful even without a college degree--were the ones most likely to game the system and to gain entry to college. A more effective market instead would reach the people who needed college degrees the most. We need to think about gap years this way, as more often than not, they are taken by wealthy kids who would get by just fine without them. For now, the most common way of doing this is through need-based scholarships, but it's worth thinking about how we could re-design the system at large.
  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?
  • Yes. At first I was very focused on researching the current gap year market in the US, as that's where I have the most knowledge. But my advisor encouraged me to look to the international market, especially India. This caused me to realize just how narrow my worldview previously had been and how much there was to be gained in getting a little out of my comfort zone and listening to other voices I had overlooked. 
Go to the profile of Ava Sanjabi
about 1 month ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

My research is based more on the biosignatures that result from life rather than life itself. Though I may not be working with living organisms directly, there are others in my lab who work with living subjects like mice. It is difficult to think about the impact of testing on animals, but, presently, animal subjects are one of the best analogs to human subjects. To deal with this ethical dilemma, it helps to consider what alternatives can be used, and how we can work to achieve positive outcomes.

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

Working in a lab with many biologists, I was constantly thinking like a biologist, and how to test samples using common biological methods. However, after speaking with a geochemist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory this past week, I have revised my testing methods to better suit the rock and basalt samples I am using. 

Go to the profile of Simon Ogundare
29 days ago

Hey Ava,

I definitely agree with the importance of having an open mind and considering alternatives when it comes to live animal research, but also acknowledging the value animals have brought to our own human understanding. I find it relatable that your scientific perspective changes based on the field of the scientists you're working with! I feel like I've been mainly adopting a solely chemistry perspective, even though I also need to explore the biological implications more deeply as well.

I'm curious about how you've revised your methods to suit the samples you're using, so if you have spare time to meet or share more about that I'd love to learn about what you've done there!

I'm glad to hear the LDEO shuttles are back online! I've really wanted to take the shuttle up there sometime over this summer term but I wasn't sure whether we could yet.

All the best with your project :)

Go to the profile of Mia Richmond
about 1 month ago

What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research?

Some of the ethical issues in my work involve research with minors and ensuring human subjects protection. Oftentimes, social and behavioral research can carry serious risks and harms when it comes to psychological health as well as autonomy and privacy. The Belmont Report lays down the foundation for federal regulations and outlines the primary ethical principles when it comes to research with human subjects: respect for persons, justice, and beneficence. More specifically, when using children as research subjects, it is essential to ensure that there are protections in place and that we account for parental permission. I also completed the CITI training modules in which I learned a lot about federal regulations in an adult consent process as well as factors that ought to be considered when developing child assent processes. 

What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

This week, I conducted my first zoom session with a six year old. We ensured that the parent filled out the consent form, but also had to double check with the subject that he wanted to play the games. Furthermore, we do not record the studies unless there is explicit consent and we also take measures to protect the subjects’ privacy by only using subject ID numbers instead of names (we only use names for recruitment and in the database) when entering and checking data.

Go to the profile of Bryley Williams
28 days ago

Hi Mia!

I've also been thinking about how to simultaneously protect research subjects and develop studies in a field, and your post really made me think about how conducting psychological research is obviously so beneficial but also quite complex from an ethics standpoint, especially when children are involved. I had never heard of the Belmont Report, but I want to learn more! I'm excited to hear more about the research you're conducting and what you're finding out.

Go to the profile of Bryley Williams
about 1 month ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

The book I am currently reading is an ethnographic study of a village in the Cardamom Mountains in Cambodia. The village centered in the research is one of the poorest in the country, and the author speaks about changing names of people and locations in order to protect identities. Like some others have stated, I have been thinking a lot about how to research vulnerable communities in a non-exploitative way. I have also been working to be aware of Western biases, especially because so many of the sources I'm reading are by American scholars. The fact that I don't (yet) know Khmer adds to this difficulty, but I am trying to read sources by scholars from a wide range of backgrounds and especially from Cambodia.

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

I've been working to understand how the sources I'm reading fit with one another, and in doing that, I've been able to see some schools of research that exist in the field I'm studying. Scholars certainly do disagree with each other, so when creating my bibliography, I tried to include these different fields of thought. It's also been interesting for me to read critical book reviews, which have shed light on alternative viewpoints.

Go to the profile of Eva Brander Blackhawk
about 1 month ago

As a few other students have mentioned the exploitative and privileged position of academia is definitely tricky to balance with my personal commitment and investment in the communities I'm looking to learn from. I'm reading this dissertation done by a former Columbia student actually on the Hoopa tribe and their language and I think she does a really good job of emphasizes the validity of traditional knowledge and stories as philosophies and in most chapters put these first. She also takes a lot about the balance of what's acceptable to share with the general population and what should be kept within the community. She also really admires Prof Simpson at Columbia who I was already lucky enough to talk to so that's another person who can give input on this issue. One thing Prof Simpson stressed with I talked to her was the need to give back and emphasized that I should offer help and ask to help anyone who's helping me. 

I think in my project everyone who's more immediately connected to their communities in some ways is an alternative viewpoint to my own because of the way I am connected to an institution like Columbia. Another debate is whether non-Indians should be allowed to learn the language and that's one topic where people disagree a bit. Someone who teaches Shoshone said that wasn't something he liked, but then some people who teach Ute said they welcome anyone who wants to learn. I talked to my grandfather today about it and he said the main issue is the language dying and that any speakers is better than no speakers. We also agreed that the commitment shown in becoming a fluent speaker also in some ways does make someone part of the community.  

Go to the profile of Simon Ogundare
29 days ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

While I think most of the methodological aspects of my research may not have many direct ethical implications, one part of research that I'm learning to be more critical about is with decolonizing methodologies, which I think are extremely applicable if I intend to do fieldwork with whatever initial results I obtain. I think when one is testing the practicality of their ideas in "the field," it's easy to treat the environment as simply that (a data gathering environment), and that's usually one of the few criteria for choosing locations, while discounting the value of the location to its residents / inhabitants. We discussed science communication as a strategy for decolonizing methodologies in our graduate student mentor groups, and on that front, I'm trying to read more about ways to talk about my research to others who may not be completely versed in what I'm studying.

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

I've proceeded with experimentation with the goal in mind to modify carbon dioxide scrubbing into a technology that can be globally affordable, while also as effective as typical "pure" scrubbing compounds. However, there are a lot of perspectives that would give an alternative goal — that simply objective efficiency of the scrubber would be the goal. I've been struggling between these two differing sides, and there are small steps in the synthesis of the beads that I could change which would maximize the efficiency of the scrubbing complex, but might reduce its affordability. Maintaining a balance between these two competing factors is something I've been grappling with, because neither side is completely wrong, but it's definitely given me something to think about when considering the project in terms of its long-term goals.

Go to the profile of Nicole Wolff
28 days ago

Hey Simon,

I completely hear what you're saying about decolonizing methodologies, and agree that simplifying our explanations of our research to make it accessible to broader audiences is one of the best solutions. When talking to my research group, I'm happy to see that my science vocabulary is increasing, but when I'm with others, I'm still working to nail down a simple explanation of my research without scientific jargon. I've been getting a lot of opportunities to practice my science communication when new people ask me what my research is about, and I'm sure you have been too. I'm still working on perfecting my explanation, though! 

It's so interesting that your project has two conflicting sides, and I'm glad that you're prioritizing keeping a balance between the two. Good luck next week! 

Go to the profile of Nicole Wolff
28 days ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

Though it has not come up during my personal research project, a common ethical issue in astronomy is using indigenous land to build telescopes and observatories. In my later career, the ethics of using these telescopes will surely arise, whether I pursue research, science policy, or science communication. Scientists tend to justify their actions in the name of science and, in doing so, can disrespect and negatively affect communities in which they choose to research. It's important to involve communities in the decision to build an observatory on their land. If an observatory is already there, it's equally important to include communities in the science by making data accessible and by increasing educational and career opportunities for those living in the area. 

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

So far, my research advisor and the other students in my lab have offered me conflicting advice regarding the methods of my research. This led to a change in schedule/change in my five-week plan, but it's definitely enriching my project by making me become more flexible. On the other hand, my advisor/mentors are helping me stay more on track with my five-week plan. There is a piece of code that I'm having trouble getting to work, so my advisor is encouraging me to move on to the next step soon instead of getting hung up over it, since the project is so time-sensitive. I have not run into many other conflicting viewpoints, but I will make sure to stay open-minded when I do. 

Go to the profile of Adina Cazacu-De Luca
27 days ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

My research is pretty standard chem lab work, so I haven't come across ethical issues yet. Later in the summer, as we begin sampling parks, we'll have to decide on locations. Since one end goal of the project is to summarize findings in a report to City Hall, we have to be mindful of which areas we sample and thus can directly advocate for increased green space. The high school students who will be helping to collect samples are from across New York City, and so we also want to consider co-production in the research design process. Which parks did they play in as kids? What areas are they worried about?

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

The relaxation mechanism of lead in nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy is debated, so most of the alternative viewpoints I've considered have been from conflicting opinions in the literature. Speaking with different professors with expertise on lead contamination has also helped me form a list of model compounds!

Go to the profile of Rizwan Kazi
17 days ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

My research deals with Chinese trade policy and, with the way the results are turning out, seems almost like a vindication of the Chinese economic model. There are a lot of ways that the Chinese system falls in line with the size of its economy and its global significance, but many, many things stand out. I think since the project is really focused on policy agenda rather than considering other factors of China (ethnic cleansing policies, neo-colonization through foreign aid, etc.), it does not delve into China apologetics.

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

I have considered alternative viewpoints; I've even included a "Counterarguments" section to my draft paper and I think it really puts the results I've gotten so far into perspective.