Roundtable: Brainstorming Ideas on Education and Deliberation

The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) closed its discussion of democratic deliberation and bioethics education with a roundtable discussion involving Bioethics Commission members and presenters.

Amy Gutmann, chair of the Bioethics Commission, kicked off the session by asking the panelists to share their thoughts on how the Bioethics Commission could strengthen bioethics education and deliberation about important bioethical issues.

The following are highlights from the discussion:

Sir Roland Jackson, the Executive Chair of Sciencewise, commented that including diverse and expert voices is critical for good deliberation. “If you’re trying to encourage a deliberative process among the people who have the power and influence that matter, you need a wider group to deliberate,” he said.

Marion Danis, from the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health, noted that the citizenry would benefit from engaging with policymakers and lawmakers on a consistent basis, as opposed to strictly during election season. She asked the Bioethics Commission to “find a way to get governmental and organizational leaders to be more respectful of the efforts people have put in, and not just listen to people when they are trying to get elected.”

Florence Evans, a participant in a deliberative polling exercise, told the Bioethics Commission that, during her participation in What’s Next, California, the purpose of the deliberation was never made completely clear. She emphasized that for deliberation to be successful, participants need to understand the purpose of the exercise, and be able to answer the question: “to what end?”

Lisa M. Lee, Executive Director of the Bioethics Commission, emphasized the importance of starting ethics education from an early age.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.