All stakeholders are equal…But some stakeholders are more equal than others (with apologies to George Orwell): posted by Mary Brydon-Miller

For our session on covenantal ethics at the upcoming World Congress we’ve drafted up some case studies related to ethics in community-based research. These examples are intended to guide our reflection and discussion related to the application of the covenantal ethics approach to specific situations. The following case study is very loosely based on Catherine Campbell’s excellent book, “Letting them Die”: Why HIV/AIDS prevention programmes fail”, along with Susan Boser’s important contribution to the literature on research ethics and AR, “Ethics and power in community-campus partnerships for research”. What are your thoughts on power and AR? What strategies have you used to bring all the stakeholders to the table in ways that give everyone an opportunity for genuine dialogue and decision making?

In an effort to address the problem of AID/HIV transmission you have established a research project designed to bring all the stakeholders to the table. This includes local physicians and other health care providers, community leaders, sex workers and union officials representing local miners who have high rates of AIDS/HIV infection and who often transmit the virus to their wives and other sex partners. In order to make clear the importance of this effort and to show respect to the participants in the process, you arrange to hold the meetings at a regional conference center with state-of-the art facilities. Unfortunately, when you have your first meeting, few of the union members and none of the sex workers you have contacted attend, despite your work to provide stipends to cover travel costs and other expenses. In the interests of moving forward, you decide to go ahead with the meeting, in hopes of increasing participation next time.