The Social Responsibilities of Scientists and Engineers: A Global Survey

About the Project

The notion that scientists and engineers have a responsibility to society that goes beyond their responsibilities to the profession is long-standing. Yet, there is no consensus on what the content and scope of social responsibilities are or ought to be. While there is a growing literature concerning the issues encapsulated by the phrase “social responsibility of scientists and engineers,” a review of that literature reveals many and sometimes competing views, and a lack of data to inform the discussion.

In 2013, AAAS undertook a preliminary data-gathering initiative. An online questionnaire was broadly distributed to scientists, engineers and health professionals internationally for the purposes of learning their perspectives on the nature and scope of their social responsibilities and to identify any apparent similarities and differences in perspectives according to multiple demographic variables. The questionnaire relied on convenience sampling and, therefore, the results could not be generalized beyond the study sample. Nevertheless, the research did suggest potential research questions for further exploration. Read about the results of this questionnaire in the 2015 report, available here.

With the support of the National Science Foundation, and using the results of the questionnaire as guidance, AAAS designed and pre-tested a global survey of scientists and engineers that would enable broad generalization about their views on their social responsibilities.This planning phase involved the development of a statistically rigorous survey instrument, translation of the survey in Arabic, French, Mandarin, Russian, and Spanish, a sampling frame and the development of a clear plan for reaching the broadly international targeted sample. Read about the results of this planning phase in the 2017 report.

 AAAS aims to launch the survey internationally in 2019.

Advisory Committee - Planning Phase

  • Robert Albro, PhD., Research Associate Professor, Center for Latin American and Latino Studies, American University
  • Melissa Anderson, PhD., Professor, Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development, University of Minnesota
  • Ali Arab, PhD., Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Georgetown University
  • Frederick Grinnell, PHD., Professor, Department of Cell Biology, University of Texas Southwestern
  • Susan Hinkins, PhD., Senior Statistician, National Opinion Research Center (NORC)
  • Amane Koizumi, M.D., PhD., Professor, National Institute of Natural Sciences, Japan
  • Roger Pfister, PhD., Executive Secretary, Committee on Freedom and Responsibility in the Conduct of Science, International Council for Science (ICSU) and Head of International Cooperation, Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences
  • Maya Sabatello, PhD., Assistant Professor of Clinical Bioethics, Columbia University, Columbia University
  • Michael Saks, PhD., Faculty Fellow, Center for Law, Science and Innovation, Arizona State University
  • Carthage Smith, PhD., Senior Policy Analyst, Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
  • Michael Stern, PhD., Methodology Fellow, NORC
  • Sonia Vasconcelos, PhD., Associate Professor, Institute of Medical Biochemistry, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

This project was supported by a grant (#1540398) from the National Science Foundation. Materials posted on this web site are neither endorsed by NSF nor do they necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.