Monday, April 28, 2014

Workshop Mentors: Kelly Bannister

Kelly Bannister will lead our activities about research ethics and partnerships. Here is an overview of her session called: "A Relational Ethics Approach".

If ethics is about how we treat one another, then research ethics is about how we treat one another within a research relationship. Approaching research as a partnership compels us to consider even more deeply the nature of the research relationship.  So how ought we treat one another in research partnerships? In ethnobiology, it’s a question that arose amid great controversy in the 1990’s in response to outcries of ‘biopiracy’ or the misappropriation of Indigenous peoples’ traditional plant knowledge. Thus began a paradigm shift for many ethnobiologists who not longer viewed Indigenous and local communities as “sources of traditional knowledge and resources for extraction” but as local experts, rights-holders and integral partners in biocultural research. This shift, led by ISE elders such as the late Darryl Posey, inspired global efforts to create precedent-setting ethical guidance, such as the Code of Ethics of the International Society of Ethnobiology (2006 with 2008 additions). Over the last couple of decades, great strides have been made in raising awareness of the complex suite of intertwined ethical and legal issues, codifying helpful ethical guidance in the form of principles and practices, and creating practical tools to address competing interests, concerns and rights - all intended to assist us in treating one another ethically and equitably in community-university collaborations. Yet most of us still struggle with ethical dilemmas, conflicts, and differences that arise as part of the inevitable uncertainties and lived reality of our research endeavors, particularly in cross cultural research that is situated at a university - and perhaps especially as junior scholars. In this interactive session, we aim to make partnership research ethics more meaningful by exploring a “relational ethics” approach that builds on the concept of “ethical space” proposed by Cree philosopher Willie Ermine (Ermine 2000) and the value of “mindfulness” that underlies the ISE Code of Ethics. Workshop participants will be invited to share their own cultural and philosophical understandings of how we ought to treat one another in our research partnerships, perhaps inspiring us to relate to one another and think about our research partners in new ways.

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