The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethics Issues (Bioethics Commission) recently hosted a webinar entitled “Multidisciplinary Implementation of Bioethics Commission Education Materials.” In the hour-long presentation, three Bioethics Commission staff members (including myself) demonstrated how the Commission’s educational materials can be used in three different settings: a philosophy course, a biology course, and a law school lunch-and-learn.
Research Analyst Misti Ault Anderson opened the session by introducing the Bioethics Commission and its commitment to education throughout its work, and highlighting recommendations that call for education in three of its past reports. In addition, Anderson demonstrated how to access all of the educational materials, which are available for free download and use at Bioethics.gov.
Next, Senior Policy and Research Analyst Karen Meagher demonstrated how to use two of the Bioethics Commission’s modules—Informed Consent Background and Informed Consent in Privacy and Progress—in an existing undergraduate philosophy course. Meagher showed how an existing syllabus could be revised to include lectures and discussion about informed consent in genetic and genomic research.
Then, Anderson demonstrated how to use the same two educational modules in two kinds of undergraduate science classes—an introductory biology class and an upper-level research seminar. She highlighted the versatility of the modules, showing that teachers can adapt the materials to fit the level of the students.
Finally, I demonstrated the use of the same two modules to build a law school lunch-and-learn training session on informed consent for genetic research. I emphasized the importance of teaching ethics to law students and showed that the pedagogical materials are not stand-alone documents; instead, instructors can access additional materials from the Bioethics Commission, including its reports, to design workshops, exercises, and discussion questions.
A robust discussion session followed, with attendees from institutions across the country asking insightful questions. Participants asked about using the modules in other settings, including in secondary school, in a medical pharmacology course, and for clinical research staff orientation. In addition, the panelists answered questions about the importance of the Bioethics Commission’s educational materials and offered tips regarding how to get students and teachers interested in learning about bioethics.
A recording of the session is now available on the Bioethics Commission’s YouTube channel, bioethicsgov. There, you can also find a video of Commission Members discussing the importance of bioethics education, and another webinar hosted by staff on advancing bioethics education. All of the Bioethics Commission’s educational materials are available for free use at http://Bioethics.gov/education.