Category: Academic Paper

2018, Academic Paper

Behind the Scenes of To Catch a Predator: Uncovering the Environmental and Genetic Factors that Lead to the Development of Phedophilia


Today we refer to scientific experts rather than exorcists to inform our understanding of the world around us. As a result, epilepsy is considered a medical condition as opposed to demonic possession. Nevertheless, there is an alarming parallel between society’s response to epilepsy in biblical times and society’s response to pedophilia in the 21st century. Modern science informs us that we are a product of our environment and biology. The justice system, however, punishes rather than treats those who do not win the genetic and environmental lottery. Scientific research transformed the climate around epilepsy; yet despite recent efforts to change how we view pedophilia, misconceptions surrounding this condition still exist. The public sees pedophilia as a conscious choice when in reality it is a complex condition which develops from a host of environmental and genetic factors that need to be analyzed to inform the public and our justice system.

2018, Academic Paper

A Third Definition of Death? An Investigation into the Implications of Advanced Medical Technology on Death in the Islamic Tradition


Muslims are not in agreement about when death is. Human judgment is inherently flawed, so Muslims defer to Islamic texts on issues of ethics. Medical technology has advanced so fast, and the universe of Muslims and Islamic thought is so wide, that there is no agreed upon standard for death. Determining the time of death is of utmost importance from an Islamic legal perspective. The death of an individual triggers many different legal processes and creates an obligation for a community to bury the body. Physicians with ulterior motives, such as organ transplantation, have entered the discourse on the Islamic definition of death in lieu of Islamic scholars. A return to classical Islamic rulings on responsibility for murder reveal that Muslims have confronted complex issues of death before, and are directly analogous to current biomedical issues. Although there is no consensus definition of death in the Islamic tradition, adopting a third category of life and death based on accepted historical rulings wherein one is “alive but legally dead” shows promise as an Islamic definition in light of recent advances in medical technology.

2nd Place – Academic Paper

2018, Academic Paper

The Role of Gospel in the South African AIDS Epidemic


The Role of Gospel in the South African AIDS Epidemic investigates how Black South Africans combined historical musical traditions with gospel styles imposed upon them during colonization to create a musical style that is distinctly political. This paper investigates the existence and development of this style in HIV activism during the era of AIDS denialism in South Africa. The piece sheds light on effective activism and artistry as well as grounds analysis within the context of the HIV epidemic, an epidemic which continues to impact largely marginalized communities today.

2018, Academic Paper

Addressing the Narratives in Health-Centric Data Collection A Case Study of Chicago and Johannesburg


How we think about social and health problems depends upon data: data informs what those problems are and whom those problems affect. Health-centric data collection often occurs at a national or international level; however, large scale data collection fails to adequately express inequities that occur at local levels. Within cities, inequities in quality of life, environmental exposure, and socioeconomic factors impact traditionally cited health metrics, such as disease prevalence disease or mortality rate. Global cities do not have a standardized method, or even conceptual framework, for collecting small-scale data that measures a holistic set of indicators. This lack of framework precludes local actors from making pragmatic and effective public health decisions. This study will employ a geospatial analysis of two cities with comparatively rich data—Chicago and Johannesburg–to highlight the potential of localized data to inform local health decisions regarding allocation of health resources. The project aims to contribute to an increasingly standardized model for localized urban data collection in order to increase the capacity of cities to reduce urban health inequities.  

3rd Place – Academic Paper

2018, Academic Paper

The Dilemma of Life-extending Treatments


The subject of Islam and bioethics covers all medicinal fields in relation to religion, leading intellectuals to continuously attempt to determine one eventual conclusion that would ideally retain both teachings from the divine sources and common ethical righteousness. From abortion, organ transplantation to brain death, the practice of Islamic bioethics covers all medical matters while attempting to justify and rationalize the physician’s role along with the patient’s consent, in an Islamic point of view. The matter of death in Islam is indeed a rather overlooked one, as it triggers fear for most of the people who thus, subconsciously, desire to delay that moment when ‘their time comes.’ But life-extending treatments have actually become more popular over the past decades, and the growing use of modern biomedical technologies has triggered many debates with regards to the definition as well as the ethical aspect of the act of delaying the process of death.

2018, Academic Paper

The Privilege of Living and Dying


In this paper, I argue for the right of the elderly to make their own decisions about healthcare as they approach the end of their lives. Ageism and current laws are a common hindrance to the proper care of the elderly. The wishes of older patients to undergo treatment are often dismissed and, in most cases, a decision to discontinue care and end suffering with assisted suicide cannot be honored. Doctors take a paternalistic approach, determining care for their elderly patients without taking into account their circumstances, life events or belief systems. The idea that these individuals have lived their life, and that administering new or substantial treatments would put an unjustified burden on limited resources, is prevalent among many in the medical profession. To combat this problem and allow the elderly to retain autonomy, medicine must incorporate “narrative care,” an approach that uses individual stories, as well as the patient’s wishes, to create personalized treatment plans. 

Real-life accounts of experiences with end-of-life care, including those of my own grandparents, are used to highlight the importance of taking cues from patients themselves. The controversial subject of legalizing “medical aid in dying” is also extensively discussed, with arguments presented on both sides of the issue. The importance of measures to safeguard against coercion while giving the elderly the option to end their lives with dignity is also considered. Together, these narratives combine to present an argument for changing policy to facilitate individual end-of-life decision-making regarding life and death.

2018, Academic Paper

The Legacy of Henrietta Lacks: Reconciliation and Intersectionality


Medical malpractices are performed daily, but what can we do to make them better? Henrietta Lacks was undergoing treatment for cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1951 while doctors examined her cells from a routine biopsy. These cells held the secret to the cures and vaccines to nearly every modern medical epidemic in history. Lacks, however, being a poor black woman from inner-city Baltimore, neither gave consent for this tissue sampling, nor was compensated for the remarkable contribution her cells gave to the medical community. Johns Hopkins Hospital has created numerous programs and events to educate the public about consensual sampling and avoiding malpractices, but is this enough? This paper first explores the bioethical dilemma of Lacks’ case and establishes the moral harm done. Following, this paper analyzes the attempts that have been made by Johns Hopkins to take responsibility for their actions. I argue that their lack of intersectionality in accounting for Lacks results in the lack of desired value in their reconciliation. I suggest that Johns Hopkins should instead look to work directly with the community they hurt. Lacks may now have her own website, but her own family still does not have basic access to health care. People whose intersections hurt them in a sociopolitical arena are considered to have a parallel lower moral standing in society. Therefore, medical professionals discount the realities and experiences of this said population; as moral status decreases, so declines health standards. This is a crucial element of bioethics that is often overlooked in cases of reconciliation, including and especially in the case of Henrietta Lacks.

2018, Academic Paper

The Role of Narrative Ethics and Autonomy in Health Care


This paper presents a narrative that exemplifies several key problems that arise from the heavy-handed focus on autonomy as a moral value. It approaches a moral dilemma from a narrative ethics perspective by breaking down a real-world, documented series of events and carefully analyzing the intentions and roles of the several important actors in it. The paper argues that by ignoring narrative ethics, the medical practitioners involved in this narrative allowed their patient to acquire a level of autonomy in her decision making that was disproportionate to the level of control and self-awareness that she exercised over her own medical situation, leaving the door open to operational blunders. But where did everything go wrong and what can be done to fix this problem? This paper demonstrates that by failing to engage in active, intellectual, doctor-patient dialogue, the GPs in this example unknowingly allowed a bioethical dichotomy to form between themselves and their patient, and that the use of narrative ethics could have potentially bridged this gap. Rather than subordinating the value of patient autonomy, this paper actually highlights its importance by proving that narrative strategies are beneficial for medical practitioners to recognize when and how much “voice” they should allocate to their patients. This paper is divided into several sections: an introduction of the story, characters, and theories that are explored in the essay, a cross-sectional analysis between the actions and intentions of different actors and how these are juxtaposed with narrative ethics, and finally a brief summary of the importance that the conclusions reached in the paper have on the world of bioethics.

2018, Academic Paper

The Ethics of a Legal Organ Market


In the United States, about 75,000 people are on a waitlist for a kidney transplant, but only one in four patients will end up receiving a kidney. This large gap between supply and demand raises the question of why it is illegal to buy and sell organs. Even though a legal organ market seems incredibly far-fetched, the moral arguments for why people should not be able to sell their organs contain many inconsistencies. This essay will address ethics concerns with the legalization of an organ market using the principles of nonmaleficence, autonomy, and justice.

2018, Academic Paper

The Image of Disability: Can Art Be A Catalyst For Change?


This paper seeks to elucidate the bioethical challenges of using art as a tool to redefine society’s understandings and perspectives of disability. Historically, art has molded society’s perception of various bodies from ideal female beauty to male stereotypical masculinity and homosexuality. Yet, scrutiny of the portrayal of people with disabilities through the lenses of art history, bioethics, and disability studies suggests that art has conformed to the medical and social models of disability, instead of the people it portrays. Although some contemporary artists, like Marc Quinn, have attempted to combat these long-standing stereotypes, it is debatable whether they have done so in a way that is unbiased in its representation of the disabled body, or whether they have merely conformed the disabled figure to fit society’s concept of aesthetic worth. This paper examines the complexities of portraying the disabled body in art and, by opening a dialogue with a member of the disabled community, seeks to find a way that art can be used as a tool to change the public’s perception of the disabled.

2nd Place – Academic Papers