gmcdonog at brynmawr.edu gmcdonog at brynmawr.edu
Mon Apr 2 14:01:52 EDT 2007

Deborah Pellow's comments reminded me of my own doctoral IRB review, which
didn't actually seem to care much about the people involved, but insisted
that my letter had to be in English for work in a non-English speaking
area.  The originals in Castilian and Catalan were sent back....

But this discussion also raises a question that I would like to know more
about from colleagues.  I teach in an interdisciplinary undergraduate
program that deals with issues of both built form and socio-cultural
issues.  Because of the latter interest, ALL of our students need to file
at least initial forms for "low-level" scrutiny on their senior thesis. In
the end, we indicate to them that certain kinds of research are impossible
without starting the approval process months in advance (and generally, I
have agreed with imposing such limits on undergraduate adventures).  in
fact, this has become a good learning opportunity for them to think about
research and responsibility, and we am not sorry that future architects
and planners have been dragged into the discussion.  Yet, I am struck that
students in the humanities (and, to be honest, I have never asked faculty
about their own reviews) can adopt "cultural studies" projects involving
interviews and observation in sometimes problematic situations with no
review whatsoever.  Deborah said Syracuse had no exceptions -- does this
apply to the humanities as well?  This might also be a point of
leverage/discussion in terms of the biomedical dominance of so many IRB

Gary McDonogh
Program in Growth and Structure of Cities
Bryn Mawr College

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