Prof. Marcel Verweij (Wageningen University & Research) has taken on the role of Scientific Director at the 4TU.Centre for Ethics and Technology (4TU.Ethics). He succeeds professor emeritus Anthonie Meijers (TU/e).
The 4TU.Ethics centre focuses on research, education and the exchange of information on the ethical aspects of technological developments. Its chairmanship rotates between the chair holders of the research groups at the four Dutch universities of technology (TUs). For the next four years, it is the turn of Wageningen University & Research.
Marcel Verweij will continue the activities set up by Anthonie Meijers. A key aspect will involve the organisation of the Graduate School, which will be led by WUR colleague Vincent Blok. This is a programme of courses in Ethics and Technology for doctoral candidates at the four TUs. It also includes new plans for facilitating short internships outside academia. Philosophers and ethicists have skills that can prove useful outside the academic world as well. ‘Our aim is to broaden the career prospects of these often still young people because we are aware that they face considerable uncertainty about their futures’, says Verweij.
Another plan is to investigate how the 4TU Centre can serve as the coordinating agency in European research applications. There is already excellent collaboration, which previously resulted in the awarding of the ‘Ethics of Socially Disruptive Technologies’ NWO Gravitation grant; €17.9 million for research into the ethical aspects of new technologies. ‘It makes sense also to explore at European level how we can operate as a joint university centre. Of course, individual researchers and centres will continue to develop their own research applications, but in some areas it can be beneficial to do that under the 4TU flag’, continues Verweij.
Verweij is also working on further collaboration with the 4TU Centre for Engineering Education. The aim is to teach engineers the skill of ethical reflection to ensure that ethical values such as justice and integrity are also taken into account in the design of new technologies. ‘In addition to sensitivity, that reflection also calls for knowledge and skills in analysing problems. Together with our colleagues, we are exploring the most effective way possible of developing these competences’, says Verweij.
Alongside Marcel Verweij and Vincent Blok, the 4TU.Ethics organisation consists of a management team representing the four TUs and two coordinators, Jochem Zwier and Mariska Bosschaert. Meet the 4TU.Ethics team.