A publication released last week by the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (PCSBI) entitled Bioethics for Every Generation: Deliberation and Education in Health, Science, and Technology highlights remarks made by Institute Director Maggie Little and Head of Academic Programs Laura Bishop on bioethics education.
The PCSBI is an advisory panel of the nation’s leaders in medicine, science, ethics, religion, law, and engineering. The Commission advises the President on bioethical issues arising from advances in biomedicine and related areas of science and technology, and seeks to identify and promote policies and practices that ensure scientific research, health care delivery, and technological innovation are conducted in a socially and ethically responsible manner.
This particular report was designed to underscore the importance the Commission places on the tools of deliberation and education, and to demonstrate how the ethics of each mutually reinforce one another to create a more democratic and just society. The report offers eight recommendations to advance the use of both tools as they intersect with bioethics.
The report highlights remarks made by Dr. Little on Goals of and Approaches to Bioethics Education, given as a presentation to the Commission:
“[A] lot of [ethics education], I think, is getting at the kind of subtle, nuanced, rich language that is ethical language because it helps you to interpret what you’re seeing and that helps set the stage for how to think about it. So an example might be…the difference between discrimination and subordination. That’s powerful to people because it lets them name a reality that they might not otherwise have words for.”
It also spotlights comments made by Dr. Bishop from Implementing Innovations in Ethics Education, made during a presentation to the Commission:
“[T]o prepare students for modern life, we need to teach in a way that cuts across disciplinary boundaries to offer skills and resources that transfer across what is all too often a divide between the classroom and life and learning and career outside of school…. The interdisciplinary study of bioethics provides a very natural way for teachers to reach across disciplines, to engage their students in complex and real issues, to provide relevant learning and research opportunities around topics of contemporary concern.”