The chicken and the egg
Understanding ethics without words
Completing this project in an ethical manner could be tricky. We want to involve people who find complex ideas very difficult to understand, and even more difficult to communicate. This makes it difficult for them to share their ideas and experiences in a way that people will understand. I need to be really creative - and hope that the good people at IATL Warwick will help with this!
true participation - the chicken and the egg
In order for the citizens in this activity to be truly directive, we would like to involve them from the start - right now. But we will need approval for the ethics of our plan, and we will need consent, in many cases, from the familes of the individuals to be involved. We hope that we can gain approval for the particiapnts to be involved without too rigid a set of rules developing, which might constrain our work together further down the line. You can't get involvement without ethics approval (for very good reasons) but without the involvment of people, should one really be allowed ethics approval?
true consent - check, check and check again
True consent cannot be sought unless the person consenting to an event has a good idea of what might happen. Given that no-one yet knows what the outcome of this learning experience might be, it could be difficult to gain this consent. For some of the people I hope to involve, a relative who can understand complex concepts more easily will give consent on their behalf. This is important, as people who know an individual are best placed to make decisions in their best interest. However, we hope that this can be an empowering experience as well as a useful one. By endeavouring to make the experience of this experiment pleasurable in itself, and ensuring that people who are in discomfort can remove themselves as they wish, we hope that people's consent can be sought throughout the sessions, through non-verbal means.
This is an attempt to start as we mean to go on!
2 comments by 1 or more people
Sounds very interesting Stef and Coventry City Council are very happy to have been offered the chance to work with you on this to see if we can help you find people who are interested in taking part in your project.
Your discussion of ethics is interesting, particulary the issues around consent to participate from people who are unlikely to be able to understand the concepts in the inital phase, and I like the 2nd stage approach you are suggesting; ie continually checking ongoing consent through non-verbal signs.
I wondered if there is anything else you might consider to reinforce this? Could you consider a sort of ‘ethical reference group’ to do some intial sense checking of actiivities, particualrly given your very brave addmission that you don’t know what the outcomes will be (although if you did know the reseach would be pointless ….). What will you do if the project takes you incompletely unexpected directions?
24 Aug 2011, 09:23
Thanks for your comments. I’m very much hoping that some citizens of Coventry are willing to get involved. The idea of an ethics committee sounds good – I hope to ensure that it’s something all stakeholders can engage in.
I know that the staff and student theatre practitioners at the Institute of Advanced Teaching and Learning (IATL) are bold in their projects and have experience of forging into the unknown, so I’m hopeful that we can all help each other out! Your support and interest is much appreciated!
30 Aug 2011, 15:33
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