Promoting research ethics training: Understandings of community, partnership, virtue and diversity

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Ann Gold


Research ethics, Community-based, Research partnership, Cultural diversity, Environmental justice, Ethical philosophy

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Ethics in Religion | Religion


In this dissertation, "Promoting Research Ethics Training: Understandings of Community, Partnership, Virtue and Diversity," I argue for expanding traditional research ethics training beyond a sole focus on the individual for human subjects protections to protections and beneficence for the geographic community as a subject of research. Health and environmental researchers who conduct interventions in geographic communities require new ethics training on community-based engagement and participatory research approaches. These new approaches are being implemented to overcome past research experiences that produced too few benefits for many geographic communities with multiple disparity conditions and multiracial groups. Researchers now need to engage community members in partnerships; learn about local contextual conditions and subjective meanings of the community of study; and conduct cultural appropriate interventions with diverse groups.

I argue for expanded training on meanings of community, on ethical theories that can support community-based partnerships and on intercultural models of community research to promote more respect with diverse cultural groups. I demonstrate the value of Religious Studies training, its texts and methods for conducting this expanded ethics training. With an investigation of the varied meanings of community associated with health and environmental interventions, researchers can be more prepared for engaging community members for collaborative research designs and methods and for producing beneficent outcomes. A need for building community solidarity and capacities is dramatic in geographic communities with disadvantaged conditions. Understandings of moral solidarities, the movements of robust socialities and creative interpersonal relationships are extremely useful to the conduct of participatory research approaches. More integration of biomedical research principles in research reports of community-based studies can advance the acceptance of partnership approaches with research ethics committees and academic research disciplines. A development of virtue training and analyses in community-based approaches is also proposed. The design and conduct of intercultural or interworld research models can be developed with more study on culturally-based meanings of community and knowledge values. New case studies on culturally diverse research methods demonstrate new creative arrangements in participatory research. I urge Religious Studies scholars to offer more expertise to all these ethical dimensions of community-based approaches to health and environmental research.


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