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2020, Journalistic Reporting

Neuroethics: The discourse taking place today and being implemented tomorrow

SARAH HUTCHISON

As neuroscience and neurotechnology continue to rapidly advance on the global stage, it is crucial to cultivate the emerging field known as neuroethics. This up-and-coming area of study encompasses ethical evaluations of neuroscientific research and addressing the complex issues that follow. What is “normal”? Who will have access to the newest neurotechnology? Are full body-to-head transplants possible? What is soon to be reality, and what is merely science-fiction? What happens if things go wrong?

These questions may not be completely answered, but such issues can begin to be properly addressed through the development of a new and inclusive system of neuroethics. James Giordano is a Professor in the Departments of Neurology and Biochemistry, as well as a prominent leader in this field who has developed the Neuroethics Studies Program of the Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics at Georgetown University Medical Center. With the expert guidance of Prof. Giordano, this report seeks to elucidate the significance of neuroethics in our contemporary world and establish how the leaders of tomorrow can best prepare for the exciting challenges ahead.

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2020, Multimedia + Performance

DNa (Discarded Narratives in Action)

MADDY RICE

Every month for the past two years, I’ve made a monthly pilgrimage from the gates of Georgetown University (or beyond) to the CVS on lower Wisconsin Avenue to pick up three prescriptions: sumatriptan and two kinds of antidepressants.
I was prescribed sumatriptan to treat migraines. I was prescribed antidepressants to treat depression and anxiety. Every month, I pick up three plastic bottles from CVS and a month later discard them in an attempt to address or avoid or treat pain.
More than twenty little orange bottles accumulated on my shelves since I started collecting them at the beginning of June. That line of bottles were shells of my attempts to avoid pain. They stood in as physical relics of something intangible. In a way, they were proof that the pain had been real. In throwing them away, I felt like I was rejecting that awareness. In throwing them away, I was passing a form of pain from myself to the space where they would end up.
The artificial bamboo garden, Discarded Narratives’ “Current Project,” grows from the tension between necessary medicine and plastic waste. Bamboo is indigenous to every continent except Europe, but golden bamboo is an invasive species in the eastern United States. Turning plastic pill bottles cap-to-cap, they look like golden bamboo and draw parallels between botanical invasion and plastic accumulation, between site-dependent belonging and condition-dependent medicinal utility. It was initially conceived as an in-person collaboratively designed and constructed piece, but the construction time was set to begin just when we went into shelter-in-place conditions for COVID-19, so the piece became digitally collaborative and constructed from my own materials.
With that thematic baseline, I created an anonymous survey asking people to share what they left behind, or saw a loved one leave behind, in the course of receiving medicinal treatment for mental illness, or what they lost by not receiving medicinal treatment. I wrote those anonymous comments on construction paper leaves and attached them to the bamboo stalks. Together with over 30 online strangers, I grew a garden from everything we’ve left behind trying to move beyond our pain.
Like the Law of Conservation of Energy, the pain of our bodies is not destroyed. I want to transform it. I want to see if pain can remain memory instead of becoming pain in ourselves or in our environment again, if memory can become story and narrative and action.

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2020, Academic Paper

Human Rights and Bolivia’s Pluralist Legal System

KATRINA SCHMIDT

In 2009, Bolivia rewrote its constitution to rename itself the Plurinational State of Bolivia, emphasizing the diversity of indigenous communities in the country. The constitution significantly decentralized Bolivian government and expanded the autonomy afforded to indigenous groups, including practicing their own legal traditions. Activists within and outside Bolivia criticized this move, claiming that indigenous legal practices, which include punishments like exile and lashings, could violate human rights. However, by studying first-hand accounts from indigenous communities practicing traditional law, this paper demonstrates that granting indigenous law the same weight as “ordinary law” empowers rural and remote communities to pursue reconciliation and justice within their own communities.

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2020, Literary + Creative

Emit’s Assisted Suicide Center

SARAH MARTIN

Emit’s Assisted Suicide Center is the product of my personal exploration
of the ethics of youth assisted suicide in a world where a pill could erase all memory of a person’s existence. The aim of this piece is to give the
reader the opportunity to explore their emotional and intellectual
response to this futuristic form of euthanasia.



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2020, Literary + Creative

Bravo!

ALICIA TACORONTE

Bravo! is a mix of creative nonfiction and fiction. The piece jumps between storyline and short story vignettes, but the significant themes circulate my dealings with mental health, what a diagnosis of bipolar might look or feel like, and the fears that come along with it. Hopefully, the piece shows that alarm doesn’t go away, but that how you deal with it evolves.

Bravo! is connected to the Bioethics Research Showcase because health comes in all different forms. Although mental health has seemed to trend on social media and current conversations, there is a lack of exposing how to deal with knowing something won’t go away. There is a lot of diagnostic tools or discussions about how to deal with the actual symptoms, but nothing about the headspace it puts someone in. And that headspace can make “healing” or dealing with a mental illness even more difficult. My project wasn’t created for this showcase, it was a way for me to cope and understand myself, but the themes, I hope, connect with someone that needs to hear, “it isn’t always going to be okay, and that it’s okay to be scared, in fact, it’s normal and there are people willing to talk about it.” And I hope someone who knows someone going through this sees that there is an aspect of space and healing only their friend can go through and that they just need to be there when it is over.

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2020, Academic Paper

The United States: Power, Responsibility, and Climate Change

ETHAN CANTRELL

This paper explores the responsibility of the United States to take a leading role in efforts to combat climate change, specifically as shaped by Simon Caney’s power and responsibility principle. Starting with a recognition of the United State’s global role, I then analyze how this global leadership position and power have not translated to global climate leadership by the United States. The core of my argument lies in an application of Caney’s specific version of a capacity principle, further resting on the crucial and privileged role of the United States in global climate action moving forward.

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2020, Literary + Creative

Marieke Vervoort: A Lens for an Ethical Discourse on Euthanasia

KATHERINE DAMMER

On October 22, 2019, Belgian Paralympian Marieke Vervoort ended her life through planned euthanasia. She was 40 years old, and had decided it was time for her painful journey with reflex sympathetic dystrophy to come to an end. The non-terminal nature of her disease stirs up ethical debates, consistent with the varying laws across the world about euthanasia for non-terminal condition. By using Vervoort’s case as a reference point, I assert that euthanasia should not be legal for individuals with non-terminal diseases. Ending someone’s life if they do not have a terminal condition violates the bioethical principle of nonmaleficence because it brings about harm that would not have occurred in the near, predictable future.
However, an argument in favor of legalizing euthanization for non-terminal patients also involves a bioethical principle: respect for autonomy. This principle asserts that no one else besides the patient should be able to decide whether their life should be continued. Euthanization should extend to non-terminal conditions because the loss of dignity and autonomy are not exclusive to terminal conditions.
The disability argument is an important rebuttal to these arguments. Many disabled people do not have full scope of autonomy and independence, but that certainly does not mean they should end their lives. The laws would also be difficult to define and implement, since they could involve subjective terms like “sound of mind.” It would be better to have no legal euthanization of non-terminal patients.
To further understand this issue, it would be interesting to see data on how voluntary euthanization affects suicide rates and the emotions of patients’ loved ones. It would also be interesting to investigate Vervoort’s identity as an athlete and how this affects her sense of self, her autonomy, and her decision to end her life. Ultimately, I assert that euthanizing non-terminally ill patients should not be legal. It can lead to violation of nonmaleficence, harm to vulnerable patients, and blurred lines, all of which can bring about moral and legal problems for individuals and society.

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2020, Literary + Creative

Just Another Day?

AVERY VAN NATTA

This project was born out of an exploration into the commercialization of gun violence through the symbols and garb that represent it. I began thinking about it after watching the Men’s Fall/Winter 2020 fashion shows, many of which highlighted military inspired details or survivalist elements in the clothes that were presented. Why did people find this cool? Why did I find this cool? I started thinking about the commercialization – meaning “to render [something] commercial, to make a matter of trade” – of objects that represented violence, like bullet proof vests, or military-style buckles and harnesses. While exploring the integration of this type of imagery into pop culture and the modern closet, I came across an article written in 2010 published in the Fashion and Style section of the New York Times that gave examples of the many ways in which Kevlar and other ballistic technology was being integrated and hidden in everyday clothes (La Ferla). This led me to realize that it’s not the technology that’s new, it’s the fact that we’re willing and eager to display and wear it so openly. An article published in Vogue in 2018 dubbed this new style “Warcore”, as a play on“Normcore”, or a normative and traditional style of dressing (Yotka); maybe this new trend is just illustrating a larger shift in society, one where, daily, we consider the survivability of the spaces we’re in, and are not shy about showing this consideration. The word survivability was not one I had thought much about until I started doing research about school shootings. One teacher, in a video made by the New York times about the effects of gun violence on classrooms, said that she often walks into classrooms and says, “This classroom wouldn’t be very surviveable”(How, 0:01:16). While young adults may be embracing the dangerous imagery, wearing it on their bodies and taking control of it in this way, adults and parents often approach it differently. This is why I chose to write my piece from the perspective of a parent, because I wanted to depart from my reality and imagine life a different way. I was also motivated by a study that found that “the public blamed parents [of shooters] at least as much as other factors” like media or politics (Lawrence), largely because of the commonality of childhood trauma in the adolescence of school shooters (Peterson). These two different veins of research made me think about the differing responsibilities of both teenagers and parents in confronting, preparing, and preventing school shootings
Additionally, on the last pages of this document I’ve included pictures of a mock-up of the vests I describe throughout the story. Though obviously it is just a rough draft of what I imagine, I thought that it could be beneficial to attempt to provide a physical illustration.

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2020, Academic Paper

Why the Green New Deal Can Implement the Well-being Model of Justice

PETER GUTHRIE

This paper analyses the Green New Deal (GND), as outlined in House Resolution 109 of the 116th Congress, through the lens of Madison Powers and Ruth Faden’s well-being theory of justice. In a 2011 paper titled “Health Capabilities, Outcomes, and the Political Ends of Justice,” Powers and Faden argue that public health policymakers should strive toward securing six “irreducible,” “unranked” ends of justice. They are: personal security, being respected, attachment, self-determination, reasoning, and health. This submission argues that their framework is also an ideal ethical guide to public policy in the face of climate change, given the multifaceted and totalizing threat it poses, particularly to already-vulnerable communities. Adopting Powers and Faden’s framework, the paper then evaluates the GND against its power to secure these six ends of justice. It concludes that the GND, if implemented, is uniquely able to secure these ends. Only a climate policy, or set of policies, as expansive as the GND is adequate to combat the equally expansive threats posed by climate change. Furthermore, the Resolution shows great care in acknowledging how climate change threatens specific communities’ health, livelihoods, senses of place, spiritualities, and other pillars of well-being. In addressing these challenges, the GND’s plan to secure well-being for all is uniquely ambitious and community- and place-centric. While the GND is notably silent on the US’s ethical obligations to the rest of the world in the era of climate change, this domestic plan could stand alongside equally justice-informed international efforts to promote resiliency and mitigation. Ultimately, anything less expansive than the GND will prove ineffectual against the myriad threats to well-being the nation is facing now will face more severely in the coming decades.

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