Edinethics Logo



Stem Cells   

Human Enhancement   

Democs & Public Engagement   


About us   


Many emerging technologies raise ethical and social issues which mean that they may not necessarily be warmly greeted mean by the wider public. There is a widespread acknowledgement that these ethical and social issues are matters over which we need to discuss together as a society. Part of the business of exploring the boundaries of science and developing new technologies on behalf of our society means that we need to engage with ordinary people - not merely as buyers of products in the supermarket, but as citizens who wish to engage with the process of development. How we should do this, and when, are much debated subjects. The GM food crisis showed what may happen if public are offered products without considering their ethical views, concerns and choices. But how early should publics engage a complex and still largely future technologies like synthetic biology or human enhancement?

Edinethics believes we should start where people are. We (and before that the Church of Scotland SRT Project) have been working closely with the New Economics Foundation (nef) for nearly 10 years, to help develop tools for engaging citizens to be aware and to think about new technologies which could impact their lives, about which they might want a say.  We will be developing some pages to tell you some of the things we have done, but here as a starter are two recent tools which Edinethics has been developing with nef.

Democs Card Games

The first is a card game called Democs (DEliberative Meetings Of CitizenS. Edinethics director Donald Bruce was one of the original consultants on the project which created the Democs concept and its first game on stem cells in 2001.  Democs games have since been made for a wide variety of issues from cloning to climate change. Donald Bruce has written or co-authored games on the following subjects, many of which can be downloaded free from this or other sites.

  • Human enhancement in the EC FP7 project ETHENTECH. Download the Game.
  • Human Embryonic Stem Cells to Test Medicines for Toxicity. Download the Game.
  • The original Democs game on Stem Cells and Cloning for Therapy and Regenerative medicine, now in its 4th revision, will be available in a downloadable version soon.
  • GM food : an updated version of the game created for the 2003 GM Nation? UK public consultation, will be available in a downloadable version soon.
  • Nanobiotechnologies : produced for the EC FP6 NanoBio-Raise programme and being revised for the NanoAthero project.
  • Synthetic biology : created by Edinethics for the ESRC Genomics Forum and the Scottish Government.  Download the Game from the Genomics Forum website.
  • Biofuels, funded by the Biotechnology Research Council (BBSRC). Download the Game and the Instructions

To find out more about the idea of Democs games see What is Democs? and How does a Democs Game Work?

  • Download games designed specially for schools on the New Economics Foundation website - including animal experiments, climate change, GM food, neuroscience  and stem cells
  • Download a wider selection of games in many European languages on the EC-funded Play Decide website.

Advice on making up the game kit from the download:  We find light white card of 120 - 160 gsm weight is easier for players to handle than ordinary paper. Check what your printer can handle. There's quite a lot of cutting up to do. A guillotine may help.   It will help a lot to read the instruction booklet to get the idea of what's entailed in playing the game. Then go for it!

Play the Game!

We are looking for groups of 6-8 people to play Democs games on human enhancement. Absolutely no expert knowledge is required - indeed that's the whole point! Would you be interested? If so email us at Edinethics.


Open Up! is the name of a new way of exploring issues in the form of a 'Argument Map'. It's a sheet of A3 paper folded up. As you open it up, you learn about the issue, read some case study stories about it. Finally you reach a map in which you trace your way through sets of questions which have been written to help you think about the implications of the technology. And you can write your comments, and if you want, vote on a sliding scale : Yes- Maybe-Not sure-Don't think so-No.

  • Download the Open  Up! argument map on human enhancement (pdf file).
  • Download the Open  Up! argument map on animals in medical research (pdf file).
  • Return to Top of Page
    Back to Edinethics Home Page