About the IBC

The gold standard for Immersive Bioethics Education

The information below pertains to the 2016 course iteration.

Each summer, a diverse cohort of doctors, nurses, dentists, policy-makers, hospital chaplains, lawyers, IRB panelists, and others come together on Georgetown’s historic campus to grapple with some of the most profound moral issues they confront in their work, guided by internationally-renowned bioethics scholars from the KIE and beyond.

The course revolves around plenary lectures on key principles of bioethics, followed by small group discussions led by an expert facilitator. Two half-days are devoted to lectures on ‘special topics’ such as neuroethics, environmental ethics, and organizational ethics. The course is bookended by a half-day practical session on clinical ethics and a day-long design workshop on research ethics.

Find out for yourself why repeat participants and new attendees alike laud the IBC as “a life-changing experience,” “the best conference I have ever attended,” and “the ‘Academy Awards’ of bioethics.”


Back by popular demand! A special pre-session dedicated to issues in clinical ethics precedes the main IBC program, hosted by the Kennedy Institute of Ethics’s sister institute, Georgetown’s Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics.

Consider this a clinical ethics toolkit: an overview of the current state of the art in clinical ethics, followed by case study analysis in which various methods, tools, and structures for hands-on problem-solving are presented and applied.

Learn more about clinical bioethics at Georgetown »

Main Program

The main program involves a series of plenary lectures and small group discussions, plus a series of sessions on special topics such as neuroethics, conscientious objection, and disability.

Plenary Lectures

Enjoy a series of foundational lectures from giants in the field of bioethics, in Georgetown’s elegant Copley Formal Lounge. These sessions are designed to give participants a firm foundation in core principles of bioethics: lectures on autonomy, justice, beneficence and non-maleficence

Special Topic Sessions

Choose your own adventure! After the plenary lectures, the schedule is dedicated to sessions which delve deeply into a variety of special topics, which participants may join depending on individual interest. Choose from sessions on genomics, neuroethics, euthanasia, conscientious objection, collaborative reproduction, global food ethics, research ethics, and more.

Small Group Discussion

Dive deeper into topics explored in the plenary and special topic sessions with a small group of fellow participants and an expert facilitator. You’ll learn more about your small group and leader when you register on the first day of the program. Past participants consistently cite their small group experiences as the most intimate, transformational, and essential part of the IBC experience.

Bioethics in the Movies

One evening at the IBC is dedicated to an optional session dedicated to bioethics in a cinematic setting. Participants watch a series of audiovisual clips, reflect together on some of the themes explored, and leave with a new list of films to explore on their own and use in their own teaching and practice with others!

Individual Research Consultations

One-on-one research consultations with information specialists in Georgetown’s Bioethics Research Library, the largest collection of scholarly bioethics materials in the world, are available for free to all registered IBC participants. Need help with an ongoing research project? Want to dive into a new topic? Just want to explore the beautiful historic library? Ask at the Registration Desk about setting up a research consultation with one of our experts.

View the full schedule »


Introduced in 2015 and back for 2016, a special post-session workshop brings participants into Georgetown’s innovative EthicsLab. Join KIE director Maggie Little and the core EthicsLab design team for a full-day session exploring participant-led issues in research ethics, and what concrete, tangible progress might be made on them.

Designed for clinical researchers and others whose work brings them face-to-face with moral issues in gathering medical research, this session asks participants to bring their own “tough cases” in research ethics to be workshopped with the help of design-based inquiry and problem-solving.

Learn more about design + ethics at Georgetown »