Undergraduate Minor: Course Descriptions
This course introduces students to the ethical dimensions of clinical medicine and offers them the basic language and methodology with which to critically examine these dimensions. The course format integrates lecture and active case discussion to provide both the necessary philosophical grounding and the real-world skills sought by students. The course will provide an introduction to basic ethical theory and various approaches to clinical ethical decision-making. In addition students will engage particular ethical issues, including truth-telling, informed consent, killing and letting die, conscientious objection and physician-assisted suicide. Students will investigate these issues through weekly in-class case discussion and periodically through written case-analysis.
This course examines the ethical issues in health care ethics through the lens of Catholic moral thought. Students will first be introduced to the terminology and approaches of secular bioethics in order to understand similarities and differences between a secular and Catholic approach. Students will then explore theological foundations for health care ethics, including Christian anthropology and the meaning of the Christian life as it relates to issues that arise in health care. The course will engage specific teachings of the Catholic Moral tradition that bear directly on issues of health care ethics, including reproductive technologies, contraception, end-of-life decision making and physician-assisted suicide. While studying these issues, students will become familiar with differing, sometimes opposing, viewpoints and approaches of Catholic thinkers. A course format integrating lecture and active case discussion will provide both an understanding of principles and the opportunity to develop practical dilemma-solving skills.
HCE 203 will focus on a broad theoretical survey of the most common systems of moral inquiry in public health. It will discuss consequentialist and deontological theories of public health ethics along with their main interlocutors: Virtue ethics and Communitarianism, among others. Students will be prepared to be, not only knowledgeable of what various ethical systems and traditions have to offer to the public health dialogue, but also prepared to engage in critical analysis of the already-dominant ethical perspectives within public health. Thus, students will be prepared to engage in careful examination in the threshold questions of public health. For example: To what extent is public health paternalistic? Must it engage the coercive power to the State to be effective? To what extent do public health policies usurp an individual's or a community's freedoms? How do and how should public health policies balance these competing values and rights?
This course examines practical problems in clinical biomedical ethics. It employs a case-based approach with supplementary readings on the general principles of biomedical ethics. Clinical problems related to the practice of medicine will be examined contextually, with attention to institutional, cultural, discursive and moral issues that undergird controversies in clinical ethics.
Health, illness and disease are critical concepts in bioethics with far-reaching social and political implications. For instance, any attempt to educate physicians or regulate heath insurance must employ some standards that can be used to assess whether people are ill or not. This course will examine various concepts and theories of disease (including both objectivist and constructivist accounts), asking questions like "How do we decide if something is a disease?," "Who gets to decide?" and "What are the societal implications of calling something a disease?". The course will engage these questions and examine their ethical significance by looking at specific examples of how we conceptualize disease, (e.g. mental illness diagnostic categories and criteria) and the use of enhancement technologies in the practice of medicine.
Across the health disciplines, prevention and population health activities are increasingly recognized as integral to the practice of their professions. These developments, along with managed care pressures, have made the health professions increasingly prone to reducing humans to populations or abstract groups. These disciplines and their discourses are also involved in the construction of specific and not necessarily unbiased conceptions of what constitutes health, wellbeing and disease. A growing number of scholars are becoming aware of the need for an ethics of health care and public health that considers the possible unintended but still untoward effects that these narrative and cultural constructions have for people, especially when the persons under discussion are being rendered as essentialized subjects instead of full persons. This course will attempt an appropriately rich consideration of the cultural constructions of the health professions and examine the ethical issues that arise.
This course examines current controversies in end-of-life care, utilizing a discussion and case-based teaching methodology. Various topics will be examined and discussed, from both pro and con perspectives. Topics will include: the definition of death, physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia, advance directives and end-of-life decision-making, killing vs. letting die and organ donation.
This course examines controversial ethical issues surrounding the use of reproductive technology and medicine. Both pro and con perspectives are critically discussed. Topics include: the moral status of the human embryo, maternal-fetal conflicts, contraception, sterilization, in vitro fertilization, surrogate motherhood, prenatal screening, cloning, and the derivation of embryonic stem cells for research purposes.
This course examines the current state of research ethics in light of the resolution of historical controversies and the emergence of current ones. We will utilize movies, novels, current news events, and other media. The course will explore the ethical and regulatory norms that govern research today as well as particular cases that push their boundaries.
(Cross-listed as PPHS 424)
This course is designed to introduce undergraduate students to the ethics and practice of geriatric medicine and the spiritual dimensions of end-of-life care. In addition to weekly seminar discussions, students will spend three hours each week volunteering, shadowing and engaging with residents at Beauvais Manor on the Park. In large part, seminar discussion will proceed from the students' experiences at Beauvais, likely reflecting on issues such as the human experience of death and dying, meaning and transcendence, suffering and hope, and relationships at the end of life. In addition, discussion will integrate issues encountered in various fictional narratives of death and dying, assigned throughout the course.
Note: This course has specific GPA and eligibility requirements for registration including: 3.0 overall GPA, 3.0 math/science GPA, drug screen, TB test, background check and flu shot. Because some of these requirements take time to complete, you should contact Donna Nonnenkamp as soon as you think you might be interested in registering for the course.
This course will examine the ethical and jurisprudential issues related to areas of health care typically included in the field of bioethics. Specific issues that will be studied include reproduction and birth, informed consent, determination of death, end-of-life decisions, and physician-assisted suicide, among others. The course will introduce students to the leading ethico-legal approaches in analyzing cases and examining the judicial history and politics that gave rise to these.
This course will explore the troubling history of the relationship between the American medical research establishment and African Americans, from slavery times up until the present. Tracing these historical abuses to the current research ethics climate between African Americans and research, as well as the safeguards and approaches currently implemented to improve this climate. Students will have the opportunity to actively engage the current state of affairs by thinking out of the box and creating potential solutions, and envisioning different future trajectories of this fraught relationship.
What is race? Is race a biomedical reality or a social construction? What does it mean to be scientifically designated as a member of a certain race for medical purposes? Is racial medicine (treating different races with different medical practices) the same as racist medicine? How do we study race?
In order to understand the complex role of race in medicine and medical research today, this course will examine race from an interdisciplinary standpoint. It will begin by looking at the historical trajectories of the concept of race in different fields, including sociology, anthropology, genetics and law, and how these have interacted with our folk understandings of race. We will then examine how this evolving concept of race has shaped the medical study of race and health, including research regulations, journal requirements, and assumptions and categories of research studies themselves. Third, we will look at how race manifests in health practice today, including general treatment, identification and treatment of mental illness, and race-based/personalized drugs and screening. We will conclude with an examination of how all of these interactions with race relate to the experience and practice of raced doctors and patients in the healthcare system today.
Note: This is a graduate-level course. Contact Stephanie Solomon, PhD for details about registration.