The Rock Ethics Institute, working with faculty across several colleges and campuses, has recently established an undergraduate minor in Bioethics and Medical Humanities. Students in this program address fundamental issues in bioethics about when life begins and ends, and how to resolve tensions between a physician's clinical judgment and the patient's wishes. They also explore the novel ethical challenges posed by recent technological advances in fields such as stem cell research and brain implant surgery. However, Penn State students go beyond what is often called “quandary ethics,” and consider broader questions of health policy and global health. They learn to tackle the big questions in bioethics. For example, is there a human right to health care, and if so, what are the limitations on such a right and on whom does the obligation fall to satisfy it?
The Rock is also working with faculty across the University to develop a new graduate program in bioethics. We intend to bring together—in the same classroom—medical students, law students, health policy graduate students, life sciences Ph.D. students and liberal arts graduate students to discuss a variety of issues in clinical ethics, research ethics, health policy, the environment and global health.