Our Mission

The Kennedy Institute of Ethics is a center for practically engaged ethics at Georgetown University. Established in 1971 with a founding interest in medical ethics, it is one of the oldest academic ethics centers in the world.

Its founding scholars helped invent the field of bioethics, launching a tradition of creative leadership that continues today through cutting-edge research, innovative teaching, and high-impact projects, all driven by a spirit of continuous experimentation.

Collaborating with partners within and beyond the academy to tackle the most pressing ethical issues of our time, the faculty and staff of the Institute work every day to make Georgetown’s Jesuit commitment to ethics engaged in the real world a reality.

» transformative learning

Georgetown’s mission of educating “men and women for others” with a capacity for “ethics engaged in the real world” makes the Institute a central part of campus intellectual life. We are proud to sponsor learning opportunities at all levels: from undergraduate and graduate students, to high-schoolers, post-doctoral researchers, and professionals.

» cutting-edge research

Our scholars work in areas ranging from health policy and genetic ethics to critical studies of oppression and justice, authoring foundational texts in bioethics and earning numerous awards and grants, including over a dozen lifetime achievement awards. Our Bioethics Research Library is the best in its class, and our Journal is one of the oldest in the field.

» high-impact projects

Our portfolio of projects making a mark at Georgetown and beyond includes a free online course that’s educated tens of thousands of global learners, an on-campus event series dedicated to challenging topics in bioethics, an annual showcase of exemplary undergraduate work in ethics, and more.

» invention & experimentation

Carrying on in the inventive spirit of our Institute’s founders, the Institute is proud to house Ethics Lab, an on-campus incubator for projects that aim to make a complex world more ethical. The Lab is a leader on campus in developing a signature design-driven approach to learning at Georgetown, and a nexus of activity and opportunity for students and alumni.

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We believe in ethics “beyond the soundbite.”

Real-life ethical issues—from perennial questions about health, life, and death, to new challenges posed by technological advances and cultural shifts—deserve sustained attention and careful thought.

Practical moral problems demand action and rigorous reflection at the very same time.

Our teaching, research, service, and ongoing experiments all strive to find that balance between theory and action, because

a morally complex world needs practically engaged ethics.

Carrying a legacy of creative leadership into the twenty-first century.

Through collaborative scholarship within and beyond the academy, sustained partnerships with partners in the real world, and a diverse portfolio of innovative educational offerings, the faculty and staff of the KIE work every day to make Georgetown's Jesuit commitment to ethics engaged in the real world a reality.

To me the Kennedy Institute is the meeting ground of past, present, and future.

It is the best of philosophy in its depth of inquiry.

It's the best of Georgetown in its commitment to conversation for the common good.

And it is the very embodiment of an emergent, forward-looking, interdisciplinary field where theory, practice, policy, and innovation all come together.

— Vice Provost for Education Randy Bass, Georgetown University, February 2014