Culture of Responsibility

What is a “Culture of Responsibility” in the Context of Biosecurity?

The following excerpt is from the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) report entitled “Guidance for Enhancing Personnel Reliability and Strengthening the Culture of Responsibility”:

“Knowledge is rarely, if ever, neutral. That knowledge can be used for good as well as for evil is one of the recurrent, indeed dominant, themes in the history of humankind. And it is a theme that has been underscored by recent events that have highlighted the potential for misuse of the fruits of scientific progress. Thus today, in the pursuit of knowledge and truth, all scientists—especially those working in the life sciences—are called to cultivate among themselves a culture of responsibility with regard to the conduct and the achievements of their research: Their goal remains that of the generation and advancement of knowledge, but, in some cases, such knowledge may be applied for both beneficial and harmful purposes. Their beliefs, attitudes, and values must reflect a heightened consciousness of the implications of their research, especially of any potential for the deliberate misuse of the information, products, and technologies generated from their research. They must consciously live and demonstrate these beliefs, attitudes, and values through day-to-day practices of mindful research. With transparency, they must examine their own research with consideration of its potential for misuse, and they must conduct and communicate their research in ways that mitigate any risks of misuse.

Finally, in cultivating and sustaining a culture of responsibility, scientists who conduct research must recognize that they engage in a continuous, reciprocal process of promoting and bearing mutual responsibility for their work: They must hold themselves and their peers accountable collegially and with a shared commitment to advancing science and maintaining public trust.”