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A shared ethical compass

By establishing an internal ethics committee, the ZHAW is paving the way to explore ethical issues in its organisation in greater depth.

Researchers and educators are facing a growing challenge in defining clear ethical boundaries in their work. Universities like the ZHAW must share an ethical understanding and provide internal consultation on ethical issues, particularly in everyday work. More and more often, even research projects that do not require the official approval of the cantonal ethics committee need or ought to be assessed, as they may deal with ethically sensitive issues. The ZHAW has now introduced an internal ethics committee, an independent centre with a service mandate that assesses whether the protection of study participants’ rights is adequately balanced with potential benefits and risks. The ethics committee offers its services to ZHAW staff carrying out research projects that are not required by law to pass the inspection of an external ethics authority. In these cases, the decision made by the ethics committee is considered a recommendation.

Discussion and reflection about ethics at the ZHAW

To step up the dialogue on ethical issues, the ZHAW is launching the open discussion series ZHAWARE. The project aims to provide a platform that allows ZHAW’s employees, students and partners in industry and society to reflect on and discuss ethical issues.