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Joint Committee on Dual Use

Anchoring Security-Relevant Aspects of Research in Education and Teaching

To raise awareness of the ethical dimensions of security-relevant research at an early stage, universities and other higher education institutions should incorporate the topic in their teaching and in the curricula of all relevant courses of study.

A three-stage procedure could be appropriate for this purpose: Bachelor degree courses could include interdisciplinary security-relevant aspects of research in general lectures on “good scientific practice” and on basic issues of ethics in science. Master degree courses could then include seminars on the specific ethical and security-relevant aspects of their own subject, both on the theoretical level and using case studies. PhD candidates, postgraduates and staff involved in research could additionally be instructed on the specific risks of their research in group seminars, further training measures, summer schools or graduate schools.

The following section lists some good practice examples of current measures to raise awareness of the dual use dilemma:

Technical University on Dortmund: Mandatory module on ethics in its masters’ degree programmes in bioengineering and chemical engineering, teaches the basics of practical philosophy as part of professional training and focuses on conflict decisions; see Modul Manual

University of Potsdam: Seminar "Research Ethics" in winter semester 2019/20 adressed the conflict between research freedom and security concerns; see course directory

Universität Hamburg: “Biomedical Ethics” is mandatory in the Bachelor of molecular life sciences degree programme; elective modules “Biomedical Ethics” and “Responsible Conduct in the Life Sciences” in the Masters’ degree programme; see BSc Molecular Life Science syllabus and MSc Molecular Life Science syllabus

Range of courses of the Ethics in Information Technology department included seminars and lectures on the topics of “Philosophy, Society and IT”, “Digitalisation and Society” and “Ethics and IT”.

Hamburg University of Technology: Wide range of non-technical supplementary courses including “Responsible Conduct in Technology and Science”, “Ethics for Engineers”, “Ethics and Science” and “Technological Impact Assessment and Technological Development”; see list of modules for Bachelor degree programmes and Masters’ degree programmes for winter semester 2020/21

University of Würzburg: Seminar on “Legal and ethical issues in the biosciences” in summer semester 2020; see Course Schedule

Technical University of Munich: seminar “Ethics for nerds” in the winter semester 2019/20, discussed issues including the risks of IT research, including deep fakes and modern weapon systems; on its website; the German Informatics Society presents case studies on ethical problems that can arise in IT research. A detailed description of each case is followed by ethical questions that could e.g. be discussed by students in seminar

iGEM-Team Bielefeld: Seminar and information page on the topic „Dual Use and Dual Use Research of Concern: Between Science Misuse of Science and Science Communication“

Federation of American Scientists (USA): Self-study module with case studies on dual use in the biosciences

University of Bath: Next Generation Biosecurity: Responding to 21st Century Biorisks; online course

University of Bradford (UK): Module on bioethical aspects of dual use

Office of the United Nations in Geneva (Switzerland): Selection of literature and links to raise awareness and provide educational materials on biosecurity

If you have any information on other seminars or further training courses on the ethics of security-relevant research, we, at the Joint Committee office, would be pleased to hear from you.


Joint Committee on the Handling of Security-Relevant Research, DFG and Leopoldina

Reinhardtstraße 14
10117 Berlin



Dr. Johannes Fritsch

Head of Office of the Joint Committee for the Handling of Security-Relevant Research

Phone 0160 9121 2676
Fax 030 - 203 8997 - 409
E-Mail johannes.fritsch @leopoldina.org



Lena Diekmann

Project Coordinator of the Joint Committee for the Handling of Security-Relevant Research

Phone 0170 - 79 206 49
Fax 030 - 203 8997 - 409
E-Mail lena.diekmann @leopoldina.org



Dr. Anita Krätzner-Ebert

Scientific Officer of the Joint Committee for the Handling of Security-Relevant Research

Phone 0175 - 2933935
Fax 030 - 203 8997 - 409
E-Mail anita.kraetzner-ebert @leopoldina.org

Dr. Katarina Timofeev

Contact at the German Research Foundation

phone: +49 (0) 228 - 885 2591
fax: +49 (0) 228 - 885 713 320
email: dual-use@dfg.de

Dr. Ingrid Ohlert

Contact at the German Research Foundation

phone: +49 (0) 228 - 885 2258
fax: +49 (0) 228 - 885 713 320
email: ingrid.ohlert@dfg.de