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29.11.2011: INES 20th Anniversary

Ethical Principles

18. October 2010, Copenhagen/Denmark

The INESPE Lecture Series on the Social Responsibility of Engineers and Scientists

Eighth lecture: Dr. Stephanie J. Bird: "Socially Responsible Science and Engineering: What is Expected?"

Scientists and engineers are generally well regarded and respected for their technical knowledge and expertise. While the general populous considers the science and engineering communities to be part of society as a whole, these communities can seem to consider themselves apart from society, particularly with regard to professional standards, values and responsibilities. As a result, those within and those outside of science and engineering may have different expectations regarding the concept of socially responsible science and engineering. Explicit discussion among members of the science and engineering communities and also with the larger society regarding the range of professional responsibilities and the meaning of social responsibility is essential. Open, proactive discussion is key to clarifying and enhancing the role of science, technology and engineering in promoting the aims of society.

Further info: inespe.org/lectures


Seventh Lecture: Prof. Luis Radford

"Mathematics, knowing and being:
Is there a way out of the individualist self of modernity?"

Auditorium 001, Copenhagen Institute of Technology, Lautrupvang 2B, DK-2750 Ballerup.

The late Middle-Ages and early Renaissance witnessed the emergence of a new conception of the self. One distinctive trait of this new conception was an emphasis on self-making. Such an individualistic conception served to build the modern idea of what a person should be. Within the spectacular growth of Renaissance trade and commerce, mathematics lost (some of) the aristocratic ethical value with which Plato endowed it to become, in the hands of merchants and business men, a tool to pursue the quest of personal interests. But the sphere of actions and implications of mathematics was not limited to the construction of new identities. Mathematics also played a role in the formation of a new idea of nature.

Read on


Joseph Rotblat awarded for the
Nobel Peace Prize 1995
Photo: © The Nobel Foundation

Remembering Joseph Rotblat,
Remembering our Humanity


Joseph Rotblat was one of the great men of our time. As a young physicist from Poland, Rotblat realized that it might be possible to create an atomic weapon and worried that the Germans might succeed in developing such a weapon before the Allied powers. Due to this realization and his belief that the Allied powers needed a deterrent to a possible Nazi bomb, Rotblat agreed to work during World War II on the British bomb project and then on the US Manhattan Project.

When it became clear to him in late 1944 that the Germans would not succeed in creating an atomic weapon, Rotblat resigned from the Manhattan Project and returned to London. He was the only Allied scientist to resign from the bomb project as a matter of conscience.

read on

See also Nobel Foundation's website:


Prof. Benjamin Kuipers
Photo: The University of Texas Austin

Sixth INESPE Lecture on the Social Responsibility of Engineers and Scientists

Why don't I take military funding?

Prof. Benjamin Kuipers, University of Texas at Austin
Tuesday, October 14, 2008 at 13.15 hours

Venue: Auditorium D, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Blegdamsvej 17, DK-2100 Copenhagen.

Abstract: I don't take funding from military agencies. Why not?
Mostly it's a testimony that it's possible to have a successful career in computer science without taking military funding. My position has its roots in the Vietnam War, when I was a conscientious objector, did alternative service instead of submitting to the draft, and joined the Society of Friends (Quakers). During the 1980s and 90s, the position seemed to lose some of its urgency, so it became more of a testimony about career paths.
Since September 11, 2001, all the urgency is back. The defense of our country is at stake, so this testimony becomes critical. In short, I believe that non-violent methods of conflict resolution provide the only methods for protecting our country against the deadly threats we face in the long run. Military action, with its inevitable consequences to civilian populations, creates and fuels deadly threats, and therefore increases the danger that our country faces.
I will discuss the origin and evolution of my beliefs and my attitudes toward the role of the military in our society, and towards military-funded research.

Benjamin Kuipers holds an endowed Professorship in Computer Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin. He investigates the representation of commonsense and expert knowledge, with particular emphasis on the effective use of incomplete knowledge. He received his B.A. from Swarthmore College, and his Ph.D. from MIT. He has held research or faculty appointments at MIT, Tufts University, and the University of Texas. His research accomplishments include developing the TOUR model of
spatial knowledge in the cognitive map, the QSIM algorithm for qualitative simulation, the Algernon system for knowledge representation, and the Spatial Semantic Hierarchy model of knowledge for robot exploration and mapping. He has served as Department Chairman, and is a Fellow of AAAI and IEEE.


The Fifth INESPE Lecture on the Social Responsibility
of Engineers and Scientists

Solving the Climate Change and Sustainable Development Problems Together: The Role of Scientists and Engineers

Mohan Munasinghe
Vice Chair, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); Chairman, Munasinghe Institute for Development (MIND)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008 at 13.15 hours

Auditorium 3, H.C. Ørsted Institute, University of Copenhagen,
Universitetsparken 5, DK-2100 Copenhagen.

The lecture will begin with a review of the main findings from the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) relating to climate change science, impacts and adaptation, and mitigation. Their importance and relevance for policy and implementation will be explored. Climate change response policies (adaptation and mitigation) need to be fully integrated into sustainable development strategy. A practical framework called Sustainomics, based on making development more sustainable (MDMS), permits us to address traditional development issues like poverty, food security, health, employment, etc, while simultaneously taking steps to deal with longer term problems such as climate change. CC will undermine SD prospects, and future development paths will affect climate change, in a circular fashion. Synergies between CC and SD may be exploited, while trade-offs need to be resolved. The importance of trans-disciplinary analysis will explained, including the role of scientists and engineers in developing practical solutions. Case studies will be briefly summarized, which illustrate the approach at global/transnational, national/macroeconomic, sectoral/ecosystem, and local/project.

The lecture is based on a recent book Making Development More Sustainable: Sustainomics Framework and Practical Applications? by Mohan Munasinghe. Copies (personally autographed) will be available for sale after the lecture.

More info on the INESPE Lecture Series on the Social Responsibility of Engineers and Scientists at http://inespe.org/lectures. The Lecture Series is organized in collaboration with Center for the Philosophy of Nature and Science Studies at the University of Copenhagen.


Dr. Ignacio Chapela
Photo: www.mindfully.org

Fourth INESPE Lecture on the Social Responsibility of Engineers and Scientists

Berkeley, Biology and British Petroleum: Public Academics and the Academician in a Corporatized World

Dr. Ignacio Chapela
Wednesday, May 7, 2008 at 14.15 at Auditorium A

Venue: Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Blegdamsvej 17, DK-2100 Copenhagen.

In 1997, and then again in 2007, the University of California at Berkeley was the epicenter of key developments in the history of public research institutions, universities and academe in general.The proposal to have intimate and very substantial financial relationships with two major transnational corporations (Novartis and British Petroleum, a.k.a. BP) was met, in both occasions, with opposition on the part of some faculty and many members of the public. The dynamics of these local developments can be seen as emblematic of much larger processes taking place within the Modern enterprise of a social programme based on innovation and RD&D (Research, Development and Delivery). This presentation will discuss the incorporation of Biology, through biotechnology, into the paradigm of RD&D progress, specifically from the viewpoint of Berkeley and the University of California. Here, the forces driving much of science and academe in our days are clearly discernible: on the side of industrial development those forces include corporatization, entrepreneurship, reliance on intellectual property protection and venture-capital, while on the other hand academia is impacted by the rise of big science, politization and militarization. How these forces work in tension with each other will be analyzed using the case-study of the presenter, who has been engaged in opposition to privatizing forces in Berkeley and to the final incorporation of Biology into the world of corporations and large, concentrated venture capital. In discussion with the audience, we will scrutinize the options available to individual scientists, engineers and academicians in general, in the face of forces that would appear overwhelming. What are the alternatives? How to balance public principles with personal interests? How is the public represented in the work of academe? Whence has academic freedom wandered?

Ignacio Chapela is an Associate Professor at Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management. University of California, Berkeley.

See: www.inespe.org

Horizontal gene transfer at plant-surface sites

Read Ignacio Chapelas comment on a new landmark study on gene leakage (October 2010)



Third INESPE Lecture on the Social Responsibility of Engineers and Scientists

Nuclear Weapons and the Responsibility of Scientists.

Dr. David Krieger, Friday, September 28, 2007 at the University of Copenhagen.

I will discuss how nuclear weapons have changed our world and how some key nuclear scientists have responded to them. I will discuss Leo Szilard, Albert Einstein, Joseph Rotblat, Linus Pauling and Hans Bethe. I will also discuss the importance of the student protest at the University of California to the University's continued management and oversight of the US nuclear weapons laboratories.

read on


Second INESPE Lecture on the Social Responsibility of Engineers and Scientists

Responsibilities of scientists in a dangerous world

Prof. Harold Kroto, Nobel Prize Laureate, May 31, 2007, Berlin, Germany

Sir Harold Kroto has been an active researcher for most of his life. In 1996, he got the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for co-discovering the C60 carbon molecule used in nanotechnology. “Having chosen something worth doing, never give up and try not to let anyone down”, he uses to say.

Listen to the lecture (48.9 MB):

First INESPE Lecture on the Social Responsibility of Engineers and Scientists

The social irresponsibility of scientists

Jean-Jacques Salomon, 18.04.2007

Auditorium A
Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen
Blegdamsvej 17, DK-2100 Copenhagen.

The future of the world depends upon scientists – men and women who are constantly striving to advance our knowledge. Yet most of them claim to bear no responsibility for the consequences of their work: as J. Robert Oppenheimer, the "father" of the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, used to say, physics has known sin, but let's not confuse the actor and the instrument. Today, scientists play a variety of roles: as researchers, experts, strategists, diplomats, in the military and in trade, as industrialists or spies, even as traffickers or mercenaries; they are at home as advisors in government circles, military HQs and on boards of directors. Many are both warriors and missionaries for peace, defining a community in denial which questions whether there is still a place for socially responsible science or whether the courage of individual "dissidents" like Einstein, Bohr and Sakharov remains the only model for resisting the temptations and pressures from the military-industrial complex they nourish but also rely on.

read on


Albert Einstein, physicist
Photo: Private, by courtesy of Reiner Braun


INES appeal for an International Einstein Year 2005

In the year 2005, scientists throughout the world will be celebrating the centenary of the theory of special relativity and the light-quantum hypothesis, both developed by Albert Einstein in 1905. The celebrations will also honour the 50th anniversary of Einstein's death in 1955...

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