Teaching Neuroethics at MIT’s MOSTEC

MOSTEC students sightseeing between classes.

Every year, MIT’s Office of Engineering Outreach Programs runs a six-month online course for rising high school seniors from underrepresented backgrounds: the MIT Online Science, Technology, and Engineering Community (or MOSTEC) program. To culminate the course, the students meet up at MIT for an intense week of face-to-face courses. This year, I had the privilege of teaching an neuroethics for MOSTEC. This is the first time they’ve brought in someone to teach neuroethics, and so it was a (successful) experiment for both of us. The students were excited to learn what neurotechnologies exist, talk through difficult medical ethics cases, and apply what they learned to their own capstone projects.

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Mentee Hannah Martens Completes Summer REU Program

On the left, Hannah Martens stands behind a podium. Behind her is a presentation slide titled “Disgust and Embodiment.” On the right, me and Hannah throw up peace signs in front of her poster.

Hannah Martens, my long-term mentee, just completed the Center for Neurotechnology’s Research Experience for Undergraduates program. Over the course of 10-weeks, Hannah lead a research project to determine the moral (and aesthetic) implications of using Deep Brain Stimulators (DBS) to treat obesity. DBS therapy, she argued, might exacerbate the stigma, isolation, and low self-regard that often accompany obesity. As always, working with Hannah was an awesome experience—she is already a colleague, as far as I’m concerned. I can’t wait to work with her again in the future.

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Won Grant to attend Digital Summer Humanities Institute

A map—generated using the R programming language and various libraries—of fatal encounters with police with roadmap directions.

The University of Victoria hosts the Digital Summer Humanities Institute (DHSI) to teach humanists to use technologies for research and pedagogy. Every year, University of Washington’s Simpson Center for the Humanities funds a group of students to attend. This year, they selected a group of philosophy graduate students to attend—me, Anna Bates, and Erika Versalovic—after reading our proposal, “Bringing Computers to Plato’s Cave: Using Digital Tools to Map Philosophical Discourse.” DHSI was an amazing experience: I made friends, learned to program in R, and took part in serious discussions about the role of technology in the humanities. As part of the course I completed at DHSI—Ethical Data Visualization: Taming Treacherous Data—I wrote software that maps the location of fatal encounters with police officers on top of directions for a trans-American roadtrip. For more of my thoughts about this project, take a look at this Twitter thread.

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Mentoring at the Inclusive Summer High School Institute for Philosophy

ISHIP students sitting at the shore of a lake, staring out at the forest on the other side.

I just got back from Depauw University where I had the honor of mentoring students for their Inclusive Summer High School Institute for Philosophy (ISHIP) program. In this week-long program—organized by my friend and colleague, Andrea Sullivan-Clarke—we immersed a bright group of rising high school seniors in intense philosophical study. Joining me were the amazing Drs. Robin Demberoff (Yale) and Rachel McKinnon (College of Charleston).

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