A new guiding principles document from LASA Education Training and Ethics Section and the RSPCA Animals in Science Department
Delivering the ethics learning outcomes in module 2 for personal licensees:
Delivering - and assessing - the ethics learning outcomes in personal licensee (PIL) training courses is an important component of licensee training, but this has never been easy. There are now defined ‘ethics learning outcomes’ for Module 2, but these do not go into detail about the aims of this aspect of the course, the topics to include, or the approach to take. Students often have no background in ethics or do not understand what ‘ethics’ is (and is not). Furthermore, ethics is not 'black and white' and ethical dilemmas are open to personal interpretation. Students may also have beliefs and opinions that can be deeply rooted and dictated by culture (e.g. religious, national, regulatory, institutional) or the attitudes of their peers.
The Guidance is divided into two parts.
The first deals with general principles: the overall aim of ethics training; what ethics is in practice and why it is important; how it relates to the use of animals in research; and the principles underlying good practice in teaching this topic. It emphasises the benefits of ‘normalising’ ethics by showing how it pervades other aspects of science and life generally, focusing on the need for a relevant and practical approach that integrates ethics throughout the whole training course.
The Guidance also deals with some common misconceptions. For example, ethics is often just equated with implementing the 3Rs and improving animal welfare. However, although both these issues concern the reduction of overall animal suffering and are thus a factor in ethical decision making, ethics encompasses a much wider set of considerations and reflection about what it is justifiable to do to animals in the name of science.
Part two focusses on the practical aspects of delivering the ethics learning outcomes. It is set out in tabled form with the key points to get across for each learning outcome set alongside ideas on how these could be delivered, emphasising the importance of illustrating the training with up to date and local examples wherever possible. There are some handy summary ‘dos and don’ts’, suggestions for development of training resources and opportunities for CPD (e.g. via the AWERB).
The Guidance is available to download from both the LASA and RSPCA websites at: