Moral Medicine: Questions in Bioethics at the Cutting Edge

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This course is under review for 2021. Course registration will open to accepted students once courses are confirmed.

Course Description

Medical science has brought enormous advantages to the 21st century: extending human life and reducing suffering. However, there are also major ethical and practical concerns arising with scientific progress. How do we frame, re-frame, and decide these controversial issues as ethicists, doctors, individuals, and as a society?

In this course, students will develop an understanding of both biological concepts as well as the philosophical debates underlying difficult questions stemming from new discoveries in medicine. We will explore and debate 5 major topics in bioethics:

(1) Reproductive Medicine
(2) The New Genetics
(3) Infectious Diseases
(4) Allocation of Medical Resources
(5) Death and dying

These topics touch on many fundamental ethical questions: the right to privacy, what cost we are willing to bear for scientific progress, whether we should pursue perfection and how we create an equal and just society.
Classes will be interactive, with the curriculum consisting of presentations, class discussion, multimedia, and group projects. Students will read both scientific and philosophical articles, watch relevant videos, and read excerpts from literature and journalism. Bioethics case studies will allow students to analyze, research, and critique, along with formal debates. The classroom will be a safe place where students can exercise their debating skills and learn to constructively engage with differing opinions.

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
- Assess and analyze bio-ethical issues and make recommendations and moral arguments
- Understand multiple biological concepts and processes
- Develop robust moral arguments, by stating clear positions and providing compelling justification
- Communicate via the written word and verbal presentations
- Be able to read scientific papers and understand emerging scientific concepts with a value proposition in mind
- Hone critical thinking skills, learning to engage charitably in discussion about moral issues and how to critically consume moral arguments

Prerequisites: There are no educational prerequisites for this course, but a strong interest in biology and ethics is required.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEBI0978
  • Length: 1 week

Program Information

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Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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