Friday, 16 October 2015 — 12:00 noon — GAR 4.100

Ioanna Semendeferi, University of Houston

“Feelings, Ethics, and the Past’s Persistence:
Visualization and the Film ‘Dear Scientists'”

There is an increasing body of evidence that not only cognition but also emotions shape moral judgment. The conventional teaching of responsible conduct of research, however, does not target emotions; its emphasis is on rational analysis.  Here I present a new approach, ‘the feelings method,’ for incorporating emotions into science ethics education. This method is embodied in ‘Dear Scientists,’ an innovative film that combines humanities with arts. The film works at the subconscious level, delivering an intense mix of music and images, contrasted by calm narration. ‘Dear Scientists’ has struck a chord across the science, humanities, and arts communities—a promising sign. The presentation focuses on the film’s aims and includes its 26-minute screening.


Ioanna Semendeferi is an Associate Professor in the Physics Department at the University of Houston. She holds a B.S. in Physics from the Aristotle University in Greece and a Ph.D. in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine from the University of Minnesota. Her publications have appeared in the ‘Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences,’ ‘Science and Engineering Ethics,’ ‘Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education,’ and ‘Nature Physics.’ She was the architect of the ethics in science and history of science courses at the University of Houston, where she has taught since 2008. Currently, her work focuses on science ethics and the social and human dimensions of science. She wrote, directed, and produced ‘Dear Scientists,’ which is her first film. Her work has been supported by the NSF and other agencies.