Course Descriptions


    Bioethics represents a complex intellectual phenomenon in the canon of newly emerging disciplines. Although an established academic field, it stills struggles to find a formal and coherent methodology for the analysis of ethical problems triggered by advances in medicine and the life sciences. The course introduces students to the historical, theoretical, and thematic dimensions of bioethics. More specifically, the course looks at historical contribution of theologians and philosophers to bioethics; it addresses the theoretical challenges of bioethics as an interdisciplinary field, with an emphasis on dominant theories in bioethics; and, finally, it touches upon the main topics of bioethics, including medical experimentation, assisted reproductive technologies, genetics, transplantation, assisted suicide and euthanasia. View Fall 2017 Syllabus


    The course looks at bioethical questions that concern the beginnings of life. Topics include the ethics of abortion, maternal fetal conflicts, ethical problems in perinatology and neonatology, as well as the ethical judgment on the entire field of assisted reproductive medicine -- from in vitro fertilization, to surrogate motherhood, gamete storage techniques, and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. There is also a clinical component to this class that offers students with an opportunity for engaged learning. Students will be exposed to decision-making in the clinical setting of obstetrics and neonatology departments at various hospitals. View Fall 2016 Syllabus


    The law contributes to public bioethics discourse on a variety of issues, from abortion to assisted suicide and euthanasia, to questions of access to health care. This course looks at the intersection of law and bioethics, relative especially to the study of important legal cases and court decisions. Examples include Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey for abortion, Quinlan, Cruzan, and Schiavo for end of life issues, etc. Students will be exposed to the ethical reasoning of important legal cases and their jurisprudential developments, thus showing how landmark legal cases have shaped bioethical discourse. View Fall 2016 Syllabus


    The increasing medicalization of the dying process poses new ethical problems to health care professionals and patients alike. This course looks at the bioethical problems that concern the end of life. Topics include ethical criteria for withholding and withdrawing treatments, palliative care, proxy decision making for incompetent patients, as well as the controversial questions, newly emerging in both the clinical realm and the law, of assisted suicide and euthanasia. This class will entail a clinical component as well. Students will be exposed to decision-making in the clinical setting of the Intensive Care Unit at various hospitals or in nursing homes. View Spring 2017 Syllabus


    This class focuses on “clinical” bioethics, that is, the ethics of decision making at the bedside, exposing students to the practical mechanisms presiding over such decisions in today’s health care facilities, such as ethics committees, clinical consultations, clinical rounds, etc. In addition to being introduced to some methods and content of clinical bioethics, this class offers students a first exposure to the institutional mechanism mentioned above, together with the opportunity to interact with those who do bioethics in a clinical setting. View Summer 2016 Syllabus


    This course analyzes specific topics in bioethics, such as public policy and bioethics, global bioethics, feminist bioethics, the relation between bioethics and environmental sensibility, history of medicine, sociology of medicine, etc. These courses are taught by affiliate faculty of the Bioethics Institute and introduce students to the interdisciplinary dimensions of bioethical questions. View Syllabus for Legal & Medical Constructions of Sex, Gender, & Sexual Identity, Bioethics & the Brain, Catholic Health Care Ethics, Justice and Health Care


    In a 2012 article entitled “In Defense of Irreligious Bioethics” published in The American Journal of Bioethics Timothy Murphy writes, “The task of bioethics can be understood, in a sense, as enlarging the prospect for society’s informed consent about its choices, by showing what various religious experiences, creeds and commitments mean in relation to other options. To enjoy the benefits that flow from adversarial engagement, the most valuable approach to religion is to repudiate in all its manifestations the idea that there is a transcendent reality to which the immanent world is beholden." Murphy’s negative appraisal of religion gives voice to a common if not a prevailing question within the field of bioethics, namely to what extent (if at all) is its project philosophically, conceptually and normatively compatible with the study and practice of religion? The purpose of this course is to engage this question further and sketch out some preliminary answers. Toward that end, it is structured as follows: In the first part of the course, we will take up a meta-ethical analysis of different approaches to religious ethical inquiry and identify what unique metaphysical and normative contributions they offer. As part of this analysis, we will also explore the different historical and intellectual forces that have suppressed religious perspectives within the evolution bioethics and relegated it to the periphery. Next, we will examine, compare, and contrast how bioethics is framed within the context of three different formative religious traditions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Lastly, we will survey how each of these traditions evaluates significant bioethical principles issues at the beginning of life, end of life and health care. 


    This course introduces students to the theories and problems of moral philosophy, comprising both a historical and a systematic component. Main versions of ethics will be studied, including natural law and virtue ethics, deontological and consequentialist theories. Students will understand the function and importance of ethical frameworks for the articulation of bioethical problems. View Spring 2017 Syllabus