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Release: Immediate

UI seminar focuses on the ethical dilemmas of describing lives Sept. 4

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The ethical dilemmas faced by researchers who try to portray the lives of their subjects will be the focus of a seminar led by the chair of a committee of the University of Iowa's Human Subjects Review from noon to 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4 in Room W401 of the Pappajohn Business Administration Building.

Kristine Fitch, associate professor of communication studies and chair of Committee D, will lead the discussion "Human Rights in Research: Ethical Dilemmas of Fieldwork." The seminar, which is free and open to the public, is part of the monthly Ethics Seminar series, sponsored by the College of Business Administration, the Project on the Rhetoric of Inquiry (POROI), and International Programs.

The seminar also is presented in conjunction with the UI's yearlong commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. The commemoration, "Global Focus: Human Rights '98," continues throughout the 1998-99 academic year.

Fitch says September's seminar will focus on some of the ethical concerns that researchers must deal with when they collect information about people's lives and then present that data to a larger public.

"Although disagreement still exists among researchers and between researchers and human subjects review boards, guidelines for dealing honestly with people whose lives are the topics of research interest are in place," Fitch says. "Less clearly defined are the ethical issues that arise even when informants are fully informed and have given consent to be studied. What if the people disagree with the researcher's findings and object to a portrayal they find inaccurate being made public? To what extent can intrusions into the intimate spaces of peoples' lives be justified by supposed contributions to knowledge?"

Other Ethics Seminars planned for the fall 1998 semester include:
-- Nora England, professor of anthropology, speaking from 12:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6 in Room W401 PBAB;
-- Deirdre McCloskey, professor of economics, speaking from noon to 1:15 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4 in Room W401 PBAB.

For more information, contact POROI at (319) 335-2753.