Every Generation Report – blog.Bioethics.gov https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog The blog of the 2009 - 2017 Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues Mon, 09 Jan 2017 23:23:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Perspectives in learning: Incorporating discussion materials and activities on ethics into science curriculum. https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/2016/12/02/perspectives-in-learning-incorporating-discussion-materials-and-activities-on-ethics-into-science-curriculum/ https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/2016/12/02/perspectives-in-learning-incorporating-discussion-materials-and-activities-on-ethics-into-science-curriculum/#respond Fri, 02 Dec 2016 15:00:47 +0000 https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/?p=2135 The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues has released over 60 educational resources that can be used as tools to teach students, researchers, clinicians, and other professionals to recognize and address ethical aspects of their work and understand how deliberation can inform ethical decision-making. These resources draw from the Bioethics Commission’s reports, and while all reports produced to date have been topic-specific, bioethics education and improving bioethics literacy has been a constant thread throughout the Bioethics Commission’s work.

The Commission’s most recent report, Bioethics for Every Generation, outlines a variety of models that can be used to teach ethics, and emphasizes that ethics education is about preparing students how to think ethically, rather than what to think. Bioethics for Every Generation also emphasizes that ethical questions and topics can be incorporated into existing courses, such as biology, chemistry, social studies and history courses, among others.

Frank Strona, the Bioethics Commission’s Senior Communications Analyst and Adjunct Faculty with National University’s Department of Health Sciences recently had an opportunity to sit down and interview Steven Kessler, Instructor of Biology and Microbiology at Santa Rosa Junior College in Petaluma, CA and former Visiting Fellow with the Bioethics Commission, discusses how incorporating bioethics into his science curriculum has affected his students and his work as a science educator.

FRANK STRONA: Tell us about how you have used bioethics to enhance traditional science education.

STEVEN KESSLER:  I incorporate bioethical issues into my traditional science classes in a number of ways.  The most satisfying way is to spend an entire class period delving deeply into one or two (if they are related) issues.  The classroom discussion guides on the Commission’s website have served as a great resource for some questions that can be the basis for these class sessions.  My work as a Visiting Fellow during the spring of 2015 involved working with the commission staff to develop these guides.

When I feel that there is less time to devote to a bioethical issue, I will incorporate the questions and themes into my lectures.  Sometimes, I will then instruct the students to have a short discussion in small groups during class time.  Other times, I simply raise the questions during the lecture and perhaps offer a range of possible responses to these questions.  Even if we do not have a formal discussion, I make sure to give the students an opportunity to ask questions or make comments during the lectures.

Regardless of the format that the content is introduced in, the classroom activities and discussions are the basis for essay questions that the students will work on as a take-home assignment or during in-class examinations (although I always give the questions in advance to ensure the students have adequate opportunity to think deeply and clearly about the issues).  For these questions, I make it clear to the students that I do not grade their position on an issue.  Rather, I mention that I am curious about their position and that I will be grading their explanation of and support for their position. My curiosity is sincere and I want all students to feel safe expressing their points of view. I especially want them to learn how to use reason to support it.

In my basic biology courses, I integrate a wide variety of bioethical issues.  A partial list of these issues includes:

  • The quarantine of health care workers during an Ebola (or other infectious disease) crisis
  • The use of a placebo-controlled trial for potential anti-Ebola drugs during an Ebola crisis
  • Providing anti-HIV drugs to the poor
  • Treating multi-drug resistant tuberculosis in prisons
  • The use of antibiotics in farm animals
  • The genetic modification of foods
  • The genetic modification of humans
  • The patenting of biological organisms, tissues, products, and specimens
  • The history of informed consent (e.g. origins of HeLa cells, compulsory sterilization in the U.S., syphilis studies in Tuskegee and Guatemala)
  • Eugenics programs in the U.S.

FRANK STRONA:  Those are important issues. As you know, the Bioethics Commission has educational resources that address many of these issues (for example, an Ethics and Ebola case study on liberty-restricting public health measures and a Classroom Discussion Guide on ethical issues in neuroscience research). These educational resources were developed to support the integration of bioethics education in traditional and nontraditional educational and professional settings.

KESSLERAll of the topics I’ve mentioned are integrated with the basic science. I find that this is an exciting way to learn the science as it places the material in a broader context.  Some students do not need this broader context to become engaged by the material, but for many students the bioethical issues facilitate their engagement.  Additionally, I find my own passion for the material is greatly enhanced by the placement of the science in a broader societal context. I receive a lot of positive feedback from students and colleagues regarding my own passion and behavior in the classroom.

FRANK STRONA: What challenges do science educators face when incorporating bioethics into science curricula? What tips do you have for overcoming these challenges?

KESSLERThe first challenge to incorporating bioethics into the traditional science curriculum is how to balance all the content in order to meet the course and program learning objectives. Typically, a significant portion of the course material that the instructor plans to cover leaves little time for additional topics.  So a faculty could look at the inclusion of a bioethical discussion as an additional category to the course content. However, in my experience, weaving in the bioethical issues as part of the course provides an opportunity for the student to be introduced to a deeper understanding of the chosen topics and can addresses serve as way to model engaged learning.

Facilitated discussions – online or in-person – are perhaps the best way to use class time to allow the students to gain this deeper understanding. Not only does it offer the student an opportunity to use analytical skills and critical thinking, it also exposes them to other students’ ideas and points of view in a controlled and safe learning environment.  However, when time is the biggest obstacle to addressing bioethical issues, I feel comfortable simply naming some questions, concerns, and controversies during a lecture.  The students can then be provided with additional resources to gain a deeper perspective that tie in to an assigned essays for homework or as exam questions so that they can probe the issues carefully outside of class time.

A second challenge is that basic science instructors do not typically have training in or feel comfortable guiding a discussion about ethical issues.  In my case, I do not always structure the material or course time as a formal philosophical ethics-based discussion, as I am not a professionally trained ethicist either.  Instead, I navigate the topic so it begins with a discussion of the background terminology or information that all participants should share. Then, I ask the students to form small groups and brainstorm the pros and cons of the issue.

I set up several “guidelines” during the small group sessions; I encourage students to avoid assigning any value to the pros and cons at this point. I might suggest to them that they list all the pros and/or cons, even those that seem ridiculous to them at first. I find that an exhaustive list here is helpful in acknowledging as many points of view as possible and allows for a better-reasoned conclusion.  As each group reports back the findings, I do a quick review, after making sure the list seems thorough enough, and depending on how much time we need, I then ask them to start weighing the pros and cons on the list – of course, this naturally occurs during the brainstorming as well – so, that we can move towards a conclusion or recommendation.  I think the approach to a discussion of bioethical issues described here provides an accessible format, and I also expect that many types of instructors could be comfortable with it since this is largely an exercise in reasoning and logic.

FRANK STRONA: What would you say to science educators or others concerned that bioethics might distract from science education?

KESSLERThat is what I consider the third challenge of incorporating bioethics content in the classroom, and that is overcoming the skepticism that exists from other science instructors.  This is something I have experienced.  This skepticism is expressed as criticism of my choice to spend time on bioethics at the expense of an already dense list of material that is required in the course.  (I make sure that I am also addressing all required material as well.)  Another type of criticism I have received is more theoretical.  A colleague has voiced to me a concern that attention to ethical issues muddies the students’ understanding of the science.

Firstly, I consider an avoidance of the ethical issues may convey a set of implied values the instructor may hold or it could leave the students confused.  For instance, if the topic is the genetic engineering of human embryos and the instructor only covers the technical aspects of this (possible future) technology, the students might get the impression that the teacher is promoting the technology, provided that the teacher does not have a cynical tone when presenting the material.  Alternatively, taking even a few moments to acknowledge concerns with the technology provides the students with some assurance that it is acceptable to think more deeply and critically about the technology and rounds out the understanding that there is multiple ways of thinking on the topic.

Secondly, by actively addressing the ethics angle, there is a possibility that the instructor will engage and inspire more students in their overall pursuit of a deep and meaningful education.  I hold that this is the opposite effect of any colleague concerned with distracting the students by addressing ethical issues.

Thirdly, some ethical discussions involve a direct examination of the science. If the discussion revolves around the safety of a technology, then a solid understanding of the science is an important part of assessing the safety. Considering safety then can direct the students to more deeply consider the technical aspects. Additionally, when I bring in the discussion associated with Ethics & Ebola, I am gratified by the attention to the scientific method and clinical trial design that happens as a part of weighing the reliance on placebo-controlled trials.

FRANK STRONA: Incorporating bioethics into science curriculum can be exciting, challenging, and engaging. The Bioethics Commission has developed educational resources for students and professionals including topic-based modules, deliberative scenarioswebinars, and empirical research resources, that address a variety of ethical issues related to public health emergencies, whole genome sequencinghuman subjects research, and more.

As students move into graduate and professional programs, their ethical training becomes more specialized, and can continue to build upon the ethical skills students have learned throughout their life. Developing the skills needed to make difficult ethical decisions does not happen overnight, and like any other skill, requires time and practice.

Incorporating bioethics into science curriculum can enhance a student’s learning experience and encourage further exploration into bioethics through professional or extracurricular activities. All of the Commission’s reports emphasize the importance of incorporating ethics education at all levels of education, because everyone, regardless of their background, will encounter a bioethical challenge at some point in their life.

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Ethically Sound podcast: Full series now available https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/2016/11/23/ethically-sound-podcast-full-series-now-available/ https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/2016/11/23/ethically-sound-podcast-full-series-now-available/#respond Wed, 23 Nov 2016 16:00:54 +0000 https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/?p=2113 bioethics_twitter-v3-08Since the Bioethics Commission was established by Executive Order by President Obama, the Bioethics Commission has released 10 reports on a variety of ethically challenging topics, and has provided recommendations on topics ranging from synthetic biology and neuroscience to whole genome sequencing and public health preparedness. Over the last 10 weeks, the Bioethics Commission has released its 10-episode podcast series Ethically Sound, based on the work produced by the Bioethics Commission. Each episode in the series focuses on a particularly salient ethical challenge that was addressed by the Bioethics Commission, and illustrates how these ethical challenges impact our society. All 10 episodes of Ethically Sound are now available on our website.

Each of the 10 podcasts opens with an introductory vignette from a speaker closely associated with the topic, who recounts a personal or professional experience related to the ethical issues addressed in the particular report. Each episode also features an interview with a member of the Bioethics Commission, who describes how the Commission addressed the topic. Ethically Sound is hosted and narrated by the Commission’s former Communications Director Hillary Wicai Viers.

The Bioethics Commission has also released a new educational resource related to the podcasts, “Ethically Sound Discussion Guide: Podcast Series Discussion Questions.” This discussion guide is designed to facilitate classroom or seminar discussion.  The discussion guide, and all of the Bioethics Commission’s educational materials, can be downloaded for free and adapted for all levels of learners.

This podcast series is the Bioethics Commission’s most recent project aimed at bringing the Commission’s work to a variety of audiences. The Ethically Sound series is now available on our website, as well as on our SoundCloud, YouTube and iTunes pages. Listeners can follow the podcast using #EthicallySound or by following us on Twitter @bioethicsgov. The Bioethics Commission’s reports can be downloaded for free at www.bioethics.gov/studies, and the Commission’s educational materials can be accessed and downloaded for free at www.bioethics.gov/education. We welcome comments and feedback at info@bioethics.gov.

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Ethically Sound Episode 10: Charting a Path Forward https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/2016/11/21/ethically-sound-episode-10-charting-a-path-forward/ https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/2016/11/21/ethically-sound-episode-10-charting-a-path-forward/#respond Mon, 21 Nov 2016 16:00:01 +0000 https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/?p=2052 The tenth and final episode of the Bioethics Commission’s podcast series, Ethically Sound, is now available. Today’s episode, “Charting a Path previewscreensnapz001Forward,” focuses on the Bioethics Commission’s two most recent public meetings, during which the Bioethics Commission reflected on the impact of past, present, and future of national bioethics advisory bodies.

Since the 1970s, the U.S. has had a succession of national advisory bodies to provide Congress or the President with expert advice on topics related to bioethics. Other countries also benefit from advisory bodies that provide advice about bioethi
cal issues. During its twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth public meetings, the Bioethics Commission heard
from members of past bioethics advisory bodies, representatives of international bioethics bodies, as well as officials who have been advised by such bodies.

The podcast opens with a narrative from Alex Capron, Professor of Law and Medicine at the University of Southern California. Mr. Capron chaired the Biomedical Ethics Advisory Committee from 1987 to 1990, and served on President William J. Clinton’s National Bioethics Advisory Body from 1996 to 2001. Mr. Capron presented before the commission during Meeting 26, and reflected on his experiences with both of these advisory bodies. In the podcast, Mr. Capron recounts a challenging experience he faced while describing the disciplinary backgrounds of bioethics advisory body staff to policymakers unfamiliar with the interdisciplinary nature of bioethics.

The podcast also includes an interview with Bioethics Commission member Dr. Daniel Sulmasy, Kilbride-Clinton Chair in Medicine and Ethics at the University of Chicago. The interview was conducted by Hillary Wicai Viers, a former Communications Director with the Bioethics Commission staff. Dr. Sulmasy discussed the importance of looking to past commissions, the legacy of the current Bioethics Commission, and the pressing ethical issues that we could face in the future. Regarding the importance of looking to past bioethics commissions, Dr. Sulmasy said “The past is applicable because many of the most basic ethical questions are perennial. We may encounter new problems, but the most fundamental questions about human finitude, the meaning of human progress, the role of balancing relief of suffering versus other ethical principles, questions of cost, and justice are always with us.”

Episode 10, and all of the other Ethically Sound episodes, is now available on our website, as well as on our SoundCloud, YouTube and iTunes pages. Listeners can follow the podcast using #EthicallySound or by following us on Twitter @bioethicsgov. Stay tuned for our upcoming educational resource, a set of discussion questions to accompany the Ethically Sound series that can be used in a classroom or seminar setting. We welcome comments and feedback at info@bioethics.gov.

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Introducing “Ethically Sound Discussion Guide: Podcast Series Discussion Questions” https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/2016/11/09/introducing-ethically-sound-discussion-guide-podcast-series-discussion-questions/ https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/2016/11/09/introducing-ethically-sound-discussion-guide-podcast-series-discussion-questions/#respond Wed, 09 Nov 2016 18:29:05 +0000 https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/?p=2105 The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) has released a new educational resource, “Ethically Sound Discussion Guide: Podcast Series Discussion Questions.” safariscreensnapz001The discussion guide is based on the Bioethics Commission’s podcast series Ethically Sound. This 10-episode series is based on the 10 reports the Bioethics Commission produced during its tenure. Each podcast focuses on an ethical challenge the Bioethics Commission addressed in a specific report. Each episode opens with an introductory vignette from a speaker closely associated with the topic, and features an interview with a member of the Bioethics Commission.

The discussion guide includes a set of questions for each podcast designed to stimulate classroom or seminar discussion. The questions challenge students and those in professional training to think critically about why certain topics are important to consider, and how certain ethical challenges might be addressed. The questions are suitable for high school, undergraduate, and graduate-level students, as well as professionals in post-graduate training.

The discussion guide is the most recent addition to a series of educational materials designed to facilitate discussion around the topics addressed by the Bioethics Commission. Educators can access a set of classroom discussion guides to introduce students and professionals to the Bioethics Commission’s reports. Teachers and instructors can use our Guides to Deliberation to introduce students and those in professional training to democratic deliberation, an inclusive method of decision-making used to address open policy questions. Deliberative scenarios can help students and professionals use democratic deliberation to collaboratively address and propose a solution to a contemporary ethical challenge. Educators can use our user guides to find educational materials suitable for a particular field, discipline, or level of education.

All of the Bioethics Commission’s educational materials can be accessed and downloaded for free at www.bioethics.gov/education. The Bioethics Commission welcomes comments and feedback on its materials at info@bioethics.gov.

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Ethically Sound Episode 9: Bioethics for Every Generation https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/2016/11/07/ethically-sound-episode-9-every-generation/ https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/2016/11/07/ethically-sound-episode-9-every-generation/#respond Mon, 07 Nov 2016 17:53:07 +0000 https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/?p=2048 ep-9The ninth episode of the Bioethics Commission’s podcast series, Ethically Sound, is now available. This 10-episode series brings the diverse body of the Commission’s work to a broad audience. Today’s episode, “Bioethics for Every Generation,” focuses on the Commission’s legacy report Bioethics for Every Generation: Deliberation and Education in Health, Science, and Technology, which outlines how democratic deliberation and ethics education can be used to address challenging ethical issues in health, science, and technology.

The Bioethics Commission has addressed the importance of democratic deliberation and ethics education in previous reports. In its first report, New Directions: The Ethics of Synthetic Biology and Emerging Technologies, democratic deliberation—a method of collaborative decision making that calls for mutual respect and reason-giving—is one of the five ethical tenets used to assess emerging technologies. In multiple reports, the Bioethics Commission has recommended incorporating ethics education into all stages of training for scientists and health care providers. The report Bioethics for Every Generation describes democratic deliberation and ethics education as mutually reinforcing processes that can help foster a more civic-minded society.

The podcast opens with a narrative from Dr. Lisa M. Lee, Executive Director of the Bioethics Commission. Dr. Lee recounts a challenging experience early in her public health career where she was asked to justify a particular policy. Regarding the importance of ethics in health and science, Dr. Lee said “Science and technology provide us with great tools for improving our experience as human beings, and it is up to us to consider how we ought to use these tools. It is these two parts—the can that science offers and the should that ethics offers—that are critical elements of the decisions we make in health and science.”

The podcast then includes an interview with Dr. Amy Gutmann, President of the University of Pennsylvania and Chair of the Bioethics Commission. The interview is conducted by Hillary Wicai Viers, a former Communications Director with the Bioethics Commission staff. Dr. Gutmann discussed how the Bioethics Commission’s commitment to democratic deliberation allowed it to address ethically challenging topics, and emphasized the importance of ethics education. Regarding the importance of ethics education, Dr. Gutmann said “Ethics education does not teach students what to think, which many parents and educators might worry about. Rather, ethics education helps students learn how to think, and helps students approach ethically challenging topics in a thoughtful and reflective way.”

Episode 9 is now available on our website, as well as on our SoundCloud, YouTube and iTunes pages. In addition to this episode, listeners can access the first eight episodes of Ethically Sound. Listeners can follow the podcast using #EthicallySound or by following us on Twitter @bioethicsgov. Stay tuned for the tenth and final episode in our series, “Charting a Path Forward,” which will be available on November 21, 2016. We welcome comments and feedback at info@bioethics.gov.

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Exploring Democratic Deliberation https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/2016/09/28/exploring-democratic-deliberation/ https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/2016/09/28/exploring-democratic-deliberation/#respond Wed, 28 Sep 2016 14:09:38 +0000 https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/?p=1959 Bioethics Commission member Col. Nelson Michael was interviewed in June by BioEdge, a bioethics news site, about the Commission’s capstone report Bioethics for Every Generation: Deliberation and Education in Health, Science and Technology. In a previous post, we discussed Col. Michael’s discussion of lifelong bioethics education. This post will focus on Col. Michael’s discussion of democratic deliberation, which the Commission recommends in its report.

Democratic deliberation is a method of decision-making that brings diverse voices to the table, and promotes mutual respect and reason-giving in order to identify areas of agreement to facilitate solutions to challenging problems. The goal of reaching consensus on a way forward distinguishes deliberation from debate, which involves participants trying to persuade others that their arguments are correct and more compelling than their fellow participants’ arguments. While participants are encouraged to use facts and reasons to support their various positions during the deliberative process, democratic deliberation is intended to be a mutually respectful process, with all participants entering the deliberation with an open mind and a willingness to consider other perspectives.

Xavier Symons, the BioEdge interviewer, asked Col. Michael about the criticism that democratic deliberation “smother[ed] substantial debate in focus groups and reports,” citing the debates and public deliberation that occurred when the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) in the United Kingdom considered the ethical implications of transferring a healthy nucleus from a mother’s egg to a donor egg in order to avoid certain mitochondrial diseases. Col. Michael responded by noting that “the discussions were facilitated using democratic deliberation…this distinguished those conversations from the kind of debates we are more accustomed to. Democratic deliberation is not foolproof—limitations and challenges exist with every method of decision making. However…deliberation has many advantages. It provides a morally and practically defensible way for addressing hyperpartisan gridlock. It also promotes mutual respect rather than fueling the sharp polarization and heightened differences that make consensus and legitimate outcomes nearly impossible in our current context.”

The Bioethics Commission outlined steps that decision-making bodies can take to engage in democratic deliberation. Deliberation begins with an open question, for which there might be numerous possible paths forward. The Commission emphasized that it is preferable to conduct deliberations with enough time to affect policy decisions. For example, when the Commission considered whether testing an anthrax vaccine on children was ethically permissible, it did so at a time when the country was not facing an anthrax attack, which gave the Commission time to consult with experts, reflect on the empirical and moral dimensions, and make reasoned recommendations. However, the luxury of time is not always possible in emergency circumstances. The Commission encouraged public officials to anticipate as much as possible potential ethical challenges that could arise during emergency situations and address these challenges in advance, since deliberation might not be possible in the midst of a crisis. In order to fully consider the implications of the question at hand, deliberation calls for consulting experts and members of the public alike. Stakeholders from all walks of life, whether they are scholars in the field or community members and leaders, have an important perspective to contribute, and it is necessary to consider these varied perspectives to come to a solution. Participants in the deliberation are encouraged to openly discuss their various perspectives. While vigorous discussion can be a part of the deliberative process, participants must use accessible and explicit reasons to support their arguments, and must maintain a mutually respectful environment throughout the process. At the end of deliberation, participants develop a detailed plan of action that emerges from the deliberation, which includes addressing ethical duties towards those who are affected by the plan.

We have produced a series of educational materials related to democratic deliberation. The “Guide to Classroom Deliberation for Students and Teachers” introduces the deliberative process in a manner suitable for classroom environments. The Commission has also produced several deliberative scenarios that can be used as the basis for deliberation around an ethically challenging topic. The Commission has also produced “Five Steps for Effective Deliberation” in conjunction with the report Bioethics for Every Generation.

The Bioethics Commission’s educational materials and reports can be viewed and downloaded for free at www.bioethics.gov. The Bioethics Commission welcomes comments and feedback on its materials at info@bioethics.gov.

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Bioethics really is For Every Generation: Vice Chair publishes editorial on K-12 Education https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/2016/07/18/bioethics-really-is-for-every-generation-vice-chair-publishes-editorial-on-k-12-education/ https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/2016/07/18/bioethics-really-is-for-every-generation-vice-chair-publishes-editorial-on-k-12-education/#respond Mon, 18 Jul 2016 10:00:33 +0000 https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/?p=1874 James Wagner, Vice Chair of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission), recently published a commentary in Education Week. In this piece on the Bioethics Commission’s tenth report, Bioethics for Every Generation, Dr. Wagner notes that early ethics education:

“prepare[s] students for the road ahead. Each of us will face crucial bioethical decisions in our lives—how to make difficult treatment choices when diagnosed with an illness, how best to care for a sick or elderly loved one, or whether to adopt new cutting-edge technologies to detect a genetic disorder or attack a neurological disease. Ethics education can help prepare us to tackle these tough questions.”

The Bioethics Commission’s report delineates how ethics education can be tailored for different educational levels and life stages (see Fig. 4, adapted from Bioethics for Every Generation, p. Wagner K2 Companion Blog Adapted Figure 4 Cleared 7.12.16 69). Dr. Wagner highlighted key ways to integrate bioethics education at the primary and secondary levels. The Bioethics Commission’s recommendations at these levels included:

  • Recommendation 4: Implement Foundational Board-Based Ethics Education at all Levels: Educators at all levels, from preschool to postsecondary and professional schools, should integrate ethics education across the curriculum to prepare students for engaging with morally complex questions in a diverse range of subjects. Ethics education should include attention to both the development of moral character and virtue as well as the cultivation of ethical reasoning and decision-making skills that can be deployed in a bioethics context. Methods of ethics education should be evidence-based and grounded in best practices.
  • Recommendation 6: Support Opportunities for Teacher Training in Bioethics Education: Education policymakers, teacher training programs, and other funders should support development of teacher training in ethics education to prepare teachers of all subjects to facilitate constructive bioethical conversations in their classrooms. Teacher training programs should anticipate existing educational inequities and provide teachers and students with equitable access to ethics education, with an aim of preparing all students for the bioethical questions that might arise during the course of their lives.

As Dr. Wagner concludes, Bioethics for Every Generation ties together educational recommendations the Bioethics Commission has made over its tenure: “When we strengthen ethics education for future scientists and clinicians and for every member the public, we will be better equipped to move forward as individuals and as a nation. Our hope is that every generation can “do better” as we face the dynamic future of that awaits us.”

For more information on the Bioethics Commission’s educational materials that accompany their reports, please explore our education page: http://education.

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Introducing New Educational Materials from the Bioethics Commission on Classroom Deliberation https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/2016/06/08/introducing-new-educational-materials-from-the-bioethics-commission-on-classroom-deliberation/ https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/2016/06/08/introducing-new-educational-materials-from-the-bioethics-commission-on-classroom-deliberation/#respond Wed, 08 Jun 2016 09:00:35 +0000 https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/?p=1859 The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) has released a set of new educational materials focused on classroom deliberation at the secondary and undergraduate levels. This set of deliberative training materials builds on the work of the Bioethics Commission in its report Bioethics for Every Generation: Deliberation and Education in Health, Science, and Technology.

The new materials include a “Guide to Classroom Deliberation for Students and Teachers,” a “Deliberative Scenario” and “Teacher Companion” on “The Use of Prescription Stimulants for Enhanced Academic Performance,” and a “Deliberative Scenario” and “Teacher Companion” on “Law Enforcement Access to a University’s Genetic Database.” The guide for students and teachers provides a three-phase approach for conducting a democratic deliberation in the classroom setting, and includes recommended readings to aid students in preparing for a deliberation. The scenarios outline two ethically challenging situations that students and teachers can use as the basis of a deliberation, and provide suggestions for supplemental reading. The companions provide teachers with specific instructions for facilitating each deliberation, provide suggestions for expanding or redirecting each deliberation in a variety of situations, and include additional readings that can be assigned to students based on their role in the deliberation.

This set of materials is designed to introduce students and teachers to the process of democratic deliberation, as well as to highlight the educational benefits that deliberation can have in broadening students’ ethics education. These deliberative scenarios, similar to the Bioethics Commission’s other topic-based educational modules, are based on contemporary ethical questions on topics that have been addressed by the Commission, and are designed to provide students and instructors with the means to enhance, encourage, and enrich interdisciplinary ethics education.

All Bioethics Commission educational materials are free and available at www.bioethics.gov/education. The Bioethics Commission encourages feedback on its materials at education@bioethics.gov.

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Bioethics Commission’s New Recommendations Bolster Ethics Education https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/2016/05/26/bioethics-commissions-new-recommendations-bolster-ethics-education/ https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/2016/05/26/bioethics-commissions-new-recommendations-bolster-ethics-education/#respond Thu, 26 May 2016 10:40:00 +0000 https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/?p=1855 The Bioethics Commission has encouraged and supported bioethics education throughout its projects and activities. Our educational materials, related to our reports, are tailored reach a variety of audiences. As the Bioethics Commission nears the end of its tenure, the capstone report Bioethics for Every Generation: Deliberation and Education in Health, Science, and Technology ties together these educational efforts. Among its eight recommendations, Bioethics for Every Generation included three that focus on improving bioethics education going forward.

First, early ethics education should build a foundation of ethical reasoning, literacy, and character formation. A solid basis in ethics will help children grapple with ethical choices far beyond the traditional classroom, such as how to be loyal to a friend or when, if ever, to break a promise. Those who develop curricula for ethics education should use evidence about childhood and adolescent moral development to inform their instruction, selecting questions and topics that are age-appropriate.

Second, in secondary school and higher education, bioethics education should become more targeted, and prepare students for particular ethical challenges that arise in health, science, technology, and engineering. Professionals should explore ethical questions alongside the technical dimensions of their fields, as critical reasoning skills and moral sensitivity help professionals grapple with the distinct ethical dimensions of their work.

Third, teachers and educational administrators need support, including professional development, to provide effective bioethics ethics education. Such efforts are likely to encounter understandable, but surmountable, obstacles. Among these include a hesitancy to engage students in questions of values, especially in matters that are likely to produce disagreement. Professional development can prepare instructors to overcome such obstacles. For example, training can prepare teachers to enlist support and address concerns of administrators and parents and demonstrate how ethics education is rooted in respect, does not seek to indoctrinate students, and cultivates critical thinking.

To assist educators in understanding the intersection of bioethics education and deliberation, Bioethics for Every Generation has an accompanying suite of educational materials, including deliberative scenarios that provide teachers and students with information on how to model deliberation in the classroom. All Bioethics Commission educational materials are free and available at www.bioethics.gov/education. The Bioethics Commission encourages feedback on its materials at education@bioethics.gov.

Bioethics for Every Generation and all other Bioethics Commission reports are free and available at www.bioethics.gov.

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