Sunday, March 2, 2014

Symposium: Field Research and US Institutional Review Board Policy

This month the Political Science Department, University of Utah, will host a symposium entitled, "Field Research and US Institutional Review Board Policy." Sponsored by the Betty Glad Memorial Fund, the symposium will take place March 20 [8:45 am - 5:30 pm] and March 21 [9:00 am - 3:30 pm].

The description follows:

US Institutional Review Board (IRB) policy with respect to human subjects was created to protect human participants from harms caused by research. It institutionalizes three ethical principles: respect for persons, beneficence (do no harm), and a just distribution of the benefits and burdens of research. The federal policy has been shaped in light of research following an experimental design, a model that often does not fit the exigencies of field research. This symposium is intended to explore the ethical dimensions of social scientific field research, including those not envisioned in the federal policy.

Symposium Co-Directors
Peregrine Schwartz-Shea, Department of Political Science, University of Utah (
Dvora Yanow, Wageningen [NL] and Keele [UK] Universities (

Keynote speaker: Dr. Zachary Schrag, History and Art History, George Mason University

"'The Freedoms We Are Committed to Protect': Political Science, Academic Freedom, and Institutional Review Boards in Historical Perspective"

Historian Zachary Schrag is one of the leading scholars exploring US institutional review board policy with regard to the social sciences. Author of Ethical Imperialism: Institutional Review Boards and the Social Sciences, 1965-2009 (2010), he has maintained a blog on the topic since 2006:

The lead title of his keynote address, "The Freedoms We Are Committed to Protect," is a line from Ithiel de Sola Pool, a political scientist and founder of MIT's political science department, who played a key role in the history of IRB policy. Although Professor de Sola Pool died on March 11, 1984, his critiques of IRBs are still quite relevant to today's debates. The keynote address roughly marks the 30th anniversary of his death.

Panel and Roundtable Titles
Panel 1 Doing Undercover Research
Panel 2 Roundtable: Assessing Graduate Student Education in Research Ethics Across the Disciplines
Panel 3 Is IRB Policy Redefining the Meaning of Ethics in Field Research?
Panel 4 Regulating Researchers Who Study the State (Elected and appointed officials, public administrators, judges, ….)
Panel 5 Roundtable: Legal and Other Perspectives on IRBs—Regulatory Policy, Common Law, Academic Freedom and Documentary Film-Making
Panel 6 Roundtable: Looking Forward, Anticipating Change - Wrapping Up


Lee Ann Fujii, Political Science, University of Toronto and Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation
Samantha Majic, Political Science, John Jay College, City University of New York
Timothy Pachirat, Politics, New School for Social Research
Jacqueline Stevens, Political Science, Northwestern University, 2013-2014 Guggenheim Fellow

Panel and Roundtable Participants

Ed Buendia, Education, Culture and Society, University of Utah
Marianna di Paolo, Anthropology, University of Utah
John Francis, Political Science, University of Utah
Caren Frost, College of Social Work, University of Utah
Rick Green, Political Science, University of Utah
Samuel Handlin, Political Science, University of Utah
Claudio Holzner, Political Science, University of Utah
Daniel Levin, Political Science, University of Utah
Jenny Mackenzie, PhD., Documentary Film Maker
Dan McCool, Political Science, University of Utah
Ella Myers, Political Science, University of Utah
Lenora Olson, Public Health, University of Utah
Susan Olson, Law and Society Association, Executive Officer; Political Science (Emerita), University of Utah
Polly Wiessner, Anthropology, University of Utah
Jennifer Yim, Political Science (ABD), University of Utah

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