Minor Course Descriptions

Select the courses below to read their descriptions.

  • While now largely viewed as a secular discipline, it is important to recognize how the field of bioethics was and still remains deeply theological in its origins. Indeed, some of the earliest and most influential bioethicists were Roman Catholic and Protestant theologians who viewed their work as Christian theology proper inasmuch as they sought to probe and answer a number of fundamental existential, metaphysical and normative questions raised by the modern advent of scientific research and medical technologies. Accordingly, the purpose of this course is to introduce students to the historical, theoretical and thematic dimensions of bioethics by way of retrieving and exploring its theological heritage. As such it will proceed in four main stages. In the first part of the course we will identify and examine the significant ethical traditions that bioethics draws from. Next we will explore some key sources of theological ethics and the integral role it played in the emergence of bioethics. From there we will then address the various reasons why bioethics has become increasingly secular in its evolution as well as the reasons why many contemporary bioethicists now see a return to theological ethics as necessary. Finally, we will explore how the Christian tradition in particular provides a rich normative background that informs the ethical framing and a clinical approach to a variety of bioethical topics including medical experimentation, assisted reproductive technologies, genetic medicine, withholding treatment, assisted suicide and euthanasia.

  • To whom? By whom? And according to what? These three questions have long been essential to a broader examination of distributive justice and their significance is especially apt when applied to a discussion of health care policy. The purpose of this course is to engage in an extended reflection on that discussion by first probing and critically assessing essential philosophical, theological, and ethical traditions of distributive justice and then to explore how they have shaped public discourse and policy on access to and the allocation of health care resources. Accordingly, we will spend the first part of the course familiarizing ourselves with Classical/Biblical, Utilitarian, Libertarian, Liberal Equality, Communitarian, Capabilities, Care Ethics, Black Radical Liberal and Catholic conceptions of justice to understand how the constellation of rights and duties they articulate instruct societal questions of who is eligible to receive health care, how much, and who/what is responsible for its provision. We will then use the second part of the course to explore the various policy mechanisms that are available to achieve a just health care system. In particular, we will focus our attention on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) as a practical departure point to discuss the legal, economic, and ethical dimensions of just health care reform.