Why bioethics literacy matters

September 17, 2014

From accessible and affordable health care to reproductive technologies, the justice and well-being of our society depend on the ability of people to identify key issues, articulate their values and concerns, deliberate openly and respectfully, and find the most defensible ways forward. But what are the best educational practices to support these societal conversations?

The Hastings Center and the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues have teamed up to publish a series of essays to highlight the best practices in teaching bioethics and to identify gaps in our knowledge of how best to inspire and increase moral understanding, analytical thinking in the moral domain, and professional integrity. The first three of these essays, which appear in the current Hastings Center Report, focus on bioethics education for practicing clinicians.

"The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues and The Hastings Center are committed to improving the ethical literacy of the American public in the domain of bioethics," states an introduction to the essays written by Lisa M. Lee, executive director of the Presidential commission; Mildred Z. Solomon, president of The Hastings Center; and Amy Gutmann, chair of the commission. "Taken together, these papers elucidate a broad range of considerations and point out new areas of research to discover how best to improve ethics literacy among scientists, health care practitioners, and the public."

The three published essays discuss bioethics education for nurses, doctors, and medical students. Other papers, to be published in future issues of the Hastings Center Report, will address the teaching of pediatric ethics issues, bioethics education for science and technology graduate students, bioethics professionals, community health workers, and secondary school students. The papers are edited by Mildred Solomon and Lisa M. Lee. Lee and Solomon will lead a session on bioethics education at the annual meeting of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities in San Diego on October 17.
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The Hastings Center

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