Friday, 29 August 2014

Phd funding in ethics of animal to human diseases

The chair group Philosophy at Wageningen University, The Netherlands, is seeking applications for a PhD position (fully employed) for a study on ETHICAL ISSUES IN RELATION TO PREVENTION OF ZOONOSES 

Zoonoses - infectious diseases that may spread from animals to humans - are one of the great challenges to global public health. Some important zoonoses such as avian influenza, Q-fever, MRSA, and BSE find their origin in livestock, and protection against these diseases will also affect food production. Certain infections however also spread from companion animals or wild animals to humans (toxoplasmosis, Lyme, etc.). A variety of measures can be taken to reduce the risk of zoonoses: extra hygienic measures in farms and food production, vaccination of animals, administration of antibiotics to infected animals, prophylactic use of antibiotics, isolation of farms, and the culling or hunting of animals that are sick, exposed, or otherwise risk spreading infection. 

Societal debates about these issues often focus on the easily polarized conflict between safeguarding public health versus serving the interests of agriculture and livestock farming. Although this conflict cannot be ignored, such a conceptualization easily obscures other dimensions of the risk of zoonoses. Other values and actors are at stake as well. Values like animal welfare and integrity, biodiversity, and environmental values, and actors like citizens (who consume meat and dairy products, and often appreciate living close to nature), food producers, and government. Moreover, a highly polarized debate may create obstacles to finding policies that are reasonable and fair to all stakeholders.

In this project we analyze a number of ethical issues in relation to the prevention and control of zoonoses. The general research question is how we as a society can responsibly deal with the risks of zoonoses. The emphasis is on dealing with infection risks from animal husbandry. The project includes an inventory of dilemmas in different contexts (health care, infectious disease control, livestock farming and nature conservation), an analysis of responsibilities of stakeholders, and a series of practical ethical case discussions. The project will be designed in such a way that it can take emerging cases of zoonoses into account. A more general theme will be how far we should go in eliminating risks. How should we weigh protection against risk reduction against other values, such as privacy, animal welfare and integrity, and a viable and sustainable farming?

Dilemmas concerning the prevention of zoonoses also raise a number of more theoretical questions in ethics, for example concerning the relationship between collective societal responsibility and responsibilities of individual parties (companies, consumers, farmers, hunters); the question how to deal with ethical dilemmas in non-ideal conditions (e.g. the - rapidly increasing - global demand for meat and animal production); and questions concerning the desirability and feasibility of overcoming conflicting interests through ethical reflection and deliberation. The project specifically aims at interaction with such fundamental questions.

- Master's degree in philosophy or applied ethics, with special interest in human and animal bioethics.
- Very good study results.
- Affinity with interdisciplinary research, particularly combining philosophical and empirical approaches
- Good writing and presentation skills in English; knowledge of the Dutch language is an advantage.
- An interest in assisting in teaching activities.

We offer you fulltime employment (38 hours a week) for 18 months with a possible extension of 30 months after positive evaluation. The gross salary is € 2.083,- per month in the first year and increases to € 2.664,- per month in the fourth year. (based on fulltime employment). In addition, we offer a holiday bonus of 8% and an end-of-the-year bonus of 8.3% of your annual salary.

For more information please contact Professor Marcel Verweij (>).

You can apply till 15 September 2014 (extended deadline). Candidates should upload the following information on the website
- Letter of motivation
- CV, including GPA (average grades) in your last study
- Two reference letters
- A (maximum 600 words) text in which you explain your vision on this topic and reflect on philosophical questions that you consider to be important in the study.

The Chair Group Philosophy at Wageningen University works on ethical and other philosophical issues in relation to the Wageningen domains of healthy food and living environments. In these domains we have research projects in animal and environmental ethics, public health ethics, and responsible innovation. Projects often involve cooperation with societal actors like governments, public health authorities, and research institutes like the RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment).

The Chair Group is embedded within the section Communication, Philosophy and Technology: Centre for Integrative Development in the Department of Social Sciences, Wageningen University.

No comments:

Post a Comment