The Bioethics Roadshow:

The Roadshow is a student focussed, interactive full-day seminar that engages Year 7 to 13 students in the exploration of scientific and technological developments and their intersection with human life.  The issues explored include: genetic testing, genetic modification and predisposition; human reproductive technologies; our relationships with animals including using animals for research; organ and tissue transplantation within (allo-) and between (xeno-) species; neuroscience; astro-ethics; ethics and sport; crime and punishment; sexuality, identity and society; social media; social responsibility and risk.  Tailored to Senior Secondary (Year 11-13), Junior Secondary (Year 9-10) and Intermediate (Year 7-8) groups, the Roadshow uses a team of educators including academics, supported by tertiary student volunteers, to present ethical issues through a variety of activities including live drama, participating student role-plays, student debates, lectures, question and answer sessions, individual and small group pursuits.  Through the teaching and learning of approaches to ethical thinking and decision making frameworks via applied scientific examples, the goal of the Roadshow is to enhance participating students’philosophical and scientific conceptual understanding, develop critical thinking skills, cultivate the skills of appropriate argument, learn to acknowledge their own values and to appreciate the values of others, and develop an open and inquiring attitude.

Analysis of the written evaluations completed following each Roadshow reveal strongly positive trends with respect to the development of the key competencies and the teaching and learning of values required by the New Zealand Curriculum, including the New Zealand Curriculum’s requirement “that students be able to make ethical decisions and act on them” (Ministry of Education, 2007, p. 10).  The Roadshow content is constantly updated in response to the rapidly changing environment of science and technology and to participant feedback via evaluation.

Students report that participation in the Bioethics Roadshow engages and re-engages them in science; that the Roadshow encourages participants to think beyond their immediate ‘gut’ response (which is frequently un-informed and/or media generated); to interrogate their personal values; and to learn about and understand a wide variety of ethical, cultural and spiritual frameworks that underpin decision making, within the applied contexts of science and technology.    In this way the Bioethics Roadshow encourages a critical and examined assessment of scientific practice, new technologies and their application.

Based on an initiative of Dr Deborah Stevens, supported by Professor Grant Gillett and Dr Lynne Bowyer, the Bioethics Roadshow was underwritten by the ICBC from its inception in February 2011 to May 2014.  Since its inception the Roadshow has involved thousands of students from over 40 state, integrated and independent schools across New Zealand. As the important work done by the Roadshow became established, attention turned to finding on-going funding to expand the initiative and enable it to work towards its potential.  Accordingly, the Centre for Science and Citizenship Trust was established by Lynne, Grant and Deborah in May 2014 to raise funds for a five-year strategic plan. The plan is to expand the Roadshow into primary schools, prisons, detention , on the marae and to people who have retired.

In addition to returning to host schools on a regular basis, the Roadshow continues to expand to reach new students and schools.  While a large number of schools are within range of New Zealand’s four main cities, the Roadshow is currently moving to deliver in other large cities and provincial centres such as Hamilton, Tauranga, New Plymouth, Napier, Nelson, Queenstown and Greymouth.  Presentation of the Roadshow in Whanganui, Timaru, Masterton, Marton and Invercargill indicates the viability of presenting in provincial areas.

To find out more about the Roadshow please go to www.nzcsc.org

Reference:

Ministry of Education. (2007). The New Zealand curriculum for English-medium teaching and learning

in years 1–13. Wellington, NZ: Learning Media Ltd.