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Postdoctoral Scholar in Engaged Ethics

Pennsylvania State University

Job category Postdoc or similar / Fixed term
AOS Engaged Ethics
AOS categories Ethics
AOC Open
Workload Full time
Vacancies 1
Location University Park, Pennsylvania, United States
Job description

Postdoctoral Scholar in Engaged Ethics


The Schreyer Honors College (SHC) and the Rock Ethics Institute (REI) at Penn State seek applicants for a post-doctoral position to support ethics curriculum development and contribute to ongoing ethics research initiatives as described below. The duties of the position will be divided roughly 50/50 between curriculum development with SHC and one of the below research initiatives with REI. The successful candidate will engage in their own research and produce publications, as well as receive training and mentorship. Post-doctoral scholars may also receive experience working on grants. They will also receive support to allow them to participate in seminars and conferences appropriate to their personal career goals.

The postdoctoral scholarship is a twelve-month, full time (40 hours per week) appointment and may be continued for a second year, contingent upon the needs of the College and the Institute. The salary will be based on experience and qualifications. Applicants must have completed the requirements for their Ph.D. by the appointment date. In addition, successful candidates must either have demonstrated a commitment to building an inclusive, equitable, and diverse campus community, or describe one or more ways they would envision doing so, given the opportunity.

The Schreyer Honors College (https://www.shc.psu.edu/) is widely and consistently recognized as one of the top honors programs in the United States. The College is one of the nation's most distinguished and selective honors colleges. The mission of the Schreyer Honors College is to promote academic excellence with integrity, build a global perspective, and create opportunities for leadership and civic engagement. The successful candidate for this position will aid in developing and implementing our new ethics curriculum, one that is meant to provide a unique opportunity for Schreyer Scholars to become moral agents for themselves and their communities. The successful candidate will work closely with a faculty team of experienced ethics scholar-teachers to assist in moving the ethics curriculum from the current pilot phase into a full-fledged program. Responsibilities will depend on experience and interest in teaching and curriculum development but will include leading discussions, organizing special events, and engaging with students; leadership experience and/or evidence of community engagement is a plus.

The Rock Ethics Institute (http://rockethics.psu.edu) embodies Penn State's goal of providing world leadership in ethics-informed interdisciplinary research and the integration of ethical literacy throughout the university curriculum. Currently REI shares 15 tenured or tenure-track faculty with eight colleges spanning the sciences, social sciences, humanities, law, and engineering. Based in the College of the Liberal Arts, the Institute sponsors innovative ethics research with a focus on the areas of data and technology, health, social justice, and sustainability.

The successful post-doctoral scholar would work directly with REI faculty on one of the following four projects:

1. Children, Youth and Media in International and Global Conflict Zones Initiative (PI: Yael Warshel, www.bellisario.psu.edu/research/centers/children-media-and-conflict-zones-lab)

Children and youth comprise the majority of people in conflict zones. Since they are most impacted, the initiative aims to shine the spotlight on media rights and uses that aid and empower children and youth. Media constitute relatively accessible and non-threatening tools for intervention, yet scholarship does not adequately address the roles they play and could play for those who live in conflict zones, are displaced by, and/or born of sexual violence in them. The initiative aims to promote analyses of media holistically. It explores roles of media in conflict zones as (1) artifacts, (2) interventions and (3) contents. We seek a postdoc with specializations in Sahrawi and/or Moroccan children and youth, media, conflict zones, conflict management, forced-migration and/or aging to quantify long-term biological effects for children growing-up amid conflict and explore media intervention roles for those. Strong English language writing skills required. Preference given to someone with fluency in Arabic (preferably Hassaniya and/or Darija dialects), and secondarily, Spanish and French. Knowledge in statistical software such as SPSS, R, SAS etc. is preferred, and video and animation editing skills are highly desirable. Discipline is open (e.g. anthropology, communication, biology, political science, sociology, psychology peace and conflict studies, childhood studies, child development) and interdisciplinarity is highly desired.

2. Democracy and Disinformation Project (PIs: Daniel Susser and Sarah Rajtmajer, College of Information Sciences & Technology)

This interdisciplinary project aims to explore how democratic norms shape—and potentially constrain—the response of democratic states to disinformation. Using computational tools, we aim to track how disinformation spreads through online networks and to model strategies for mitigating its effects. Empirically, we seek to understand how different kinds of state actors are responding to mis- and disinformation, and whether they frame their responses (or inability to respond) in connection with democratic or other political norms. And we will evaluate these strategies through the lens of science and technology studies (STS) and social and democratic theory, to determine how they fit within the broader landscape of sociotechnical efforts at managing these problems, and to evaluate their broader technical and societal implications. We aim to recruit a postdoctoral scholar with a background in international relations, political science (esp. comparative politics), or a related field. The successful postdoc will lead a cross-cutting and interdisciplinary research program critically important to modern democracies. The postdoc will have the opportunity to collaborate with researchers throughout University and across the world, engage with members of the security and policy communities, share their work through publications and presentations at conferences and related forums, and mentor graduate and undergraduate students in the PIs' labs.

3. Moral Agency and Moral Development Initiative (PI: Daryl Cameron, https://emplab.la.psu.edu/)

The initiative conducts philosophically informed, empirical social science research on processes that support moral judgments, experience, deliberation, and action, in addition to forms of education that can sustain and increase these processes. The initiative fosters new collaborations and grant applications and has as its broader, long-term aim to make Penn State a hub for interdisciplinary research on moral psychology (and related social scientific approaches to understanding morality and ethical decision-making). The successful post-doctoral scholar would contribute to the initiative by participating in regular lab and workshop meetings, facilitating lectures and events, and assisting with research projects on motivated empathy regulation being run in the Empathy & Moral Psychology Lab, including but not limited to a grant-funded project on empathic choices and helping behavior. We seek a candidate with a relevant background in one or more fields of psychology, cognitive science, philosophy, communication studies, media studies, sociology, or behavioral science, with interdisciplinary interests encouraged. Candidates should have expertise in statistical software such as SPSS, R, or SAS, as well as survey programming (e.g., Qualtrics). Experience in mentoring graduate and undergraduate students is desired.

4. Neuroethics Lab (PI: Laura Cabrera, Engineering Science and Mechanics, https://sites.psu.edu/lcabrera)

The Neuroethics Lab seeks a postdoctoral scholar with a background in neuroethics, philosophy of technology, philosophy of science, biomedical ethics, engineering ethics, or responsible innovation. The successful applicant will contribute to two projects in neuroethics and responsible research and innovation. First, as part of a current BRAIN Initiative research grant looking at attitudes, beliefs and ethical concerns about psychiatric electroceutical interventions (PEI), the postdoctoral research fellow will contribute with the development of an analytical map of the ethical challenges and policy choices that different stakeholders' views might generate for PEI innovation and use. The map will identify common ethical concerns and attitudes as well as those that diverge among stakeholder groups and across PEIs. This project will examine ethical concerns, attitudes and arguments, as well as evaluate the ethical weight of the identified concerns, and the suitability of methods for addressing or accommodating diverse concerns and attitudes. Using both a pragmatic neuroethics and responsible research and innovation frameworks, the postdoctoral fellow will contribute in normative analysis involving an iterative process of classifying, comparing and critically assessing the quantitative and qualitative data across stakeholder groups from previous arms of the project groups and the neuroethics literature.

Second, as part of an ongoing effort to support the neuroengineering community, the IEEE Brain Neuroethics Subcommittee (chair by Dr. Cabrera) is working on a framework for evaluating the social, legal, ethical, and cultural issues that may arise as a result of the use and development of neurotechnologies for diverse set of applications (e.g. medical, wellness, entertainment, sport, military). The postdoctoral research fellow will help writing a comprehensive literature review on the discussion of current neuroethical guidelines (literature study), identifying areas of convergence, and guidelines that are unique to a set of documents. This project will also critically assess whether current neuroethics guidelines are appropriate for the engineering community, as many have been written for the neuroscience community in particular. Finally, as part of this second project the postdoctoral researcher will contribute to the development of the IEEE Brain neuroethics framework and guidelines for engineers working with neurotechnologies.


A complete online application will include the following materials:

• A cover letter detailing the candidate's qualifications, including how their background and experience qualify them for both the curricular development and research aspects of this position. The statement should clarify for which research project(s) the applicant wishes to be considered.

• A current curriculum vitae;

• A scholarly paper or dissertation chapter (not to exceed 12,000 words) representing the applicant's scholarly achievement or potential;

• Additionally, arrange for three letters of recommendation to be sent confidentially to Jill Redman at jsr5587psu.edu.

To ensure full consideration, complete applications should be received by June 15, 2021, but applications will be considered until the positions are filled. The selection committee will begin reviewing applications immediately and incomplete applications may be at a disadvantage. Initial Zoom interviews will be scheduled with candidates. Employment will require successful completion of background check(s) in accordance with University policies.

Penn State is committed to and accountable for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in all of its forms. We embrace individual uniqueness, foster a culture of inclusion that supports both broad and specific diversity initiatives, leverage the educational and institutional benefits of diversity, and engage all individuals to help them thrive. We value inclusion as a core strength and an essential element of our public service mission.

Apply online at https://apptrkr.com/2288872

CAMPUS SECURITY CRIME STATISTICS: For more about safety at Penn State, and to review the Annual Security Report which contains information about crime statistics and other safety and security matters, please go to http://www.police.psu.edu/clery/, which will also provide you with detail on how to request a hard copy of the Annual Security Report.

Penn State is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer, and is committed to providing employment opportunities to all qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or protected veteran status.


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How to apply
Application type Online
Web address to apply https://apptrkr.com/2288872
Deadline for full consideration: June 15, 2021, 12:00am EST

(applications under review)

Hard deadline No deadline specified (applications considered on an ongoing basis)
Web address for more information http://www.psu.edu
Time created June 8, 2021, 7:40pm UTC
Scheduled expiry date October 5, 2021, 6:18pm EST
Last updated June 8, 2021, 7:40pm UTC
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