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Laura Williamson

by Rob Peeler Oct 30, 2017
Laura Williamson

Associate Professor of Biobehavioral Health

Department of Biobehavioral Health

College of Health and Human Development

Senior Research Associate in the Rock Ethics Institute

216 BBH Building
University Park, PA 16802

Office Phone: (814) 865-4672


  1. Ph.D., University of Liverpool


Laura Williamson is an associate professor in the Department of Biobehavioral Health and a senior research associate in the Rock Ethics Institute. She holds a PhD in Philosophy (University of Liverpool) and a first class honors degree in Theology and Classics (St. Mary’s College, University of Surrey). Williamson specializes in Health Ethics with a focus on public health and the ethical challenges associated with involving citizens more fully in health policy and practice. She has conceived and led a number of community-based ethics events. Williamson has published two co-authored monographs, Xenotransplantation: Law and Ethics (Ashgate, 2005) and Impairment and Disability: Law and Ethics at the Beginning and End of Life (Routledge, 2007). Her work has appeared in academic journals including the American Journal of Public Health, American Journal of Bioethics, Journal of Medical Ethics, and International Journal of Drug Policy. Williamson has held a Wellcome Trust, Research Fellowship and grant funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, British Academy and Medical Research Council. In 2012, she was invited to act as an expert witness for the appellants in the landmark legal case Carter et al. v Canada (Attorney General).

Williamson is writing her third monograph which investigates ways to enhance the impact and quality of ethical debate when involving citizens in health. This work will inform her teaching and citizen involvement programs at Penn State—supporting diverse audiences to recognize and think through the values-based challenges in and between different health systems of which they are part. It will also inform bids for grant funding to examine the impact of tensions between the international commitment to citizen involvement in health, and other health promotion tools like stigma and ‘nudging’.