Bioethics Blogs

Teaching and Evaluating Ethics Education, Fostering and Measuring Success

At today’s meeting, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) resumed its consideration of the many facets of effective deliberation and education surrounding bioethical issues by looking at two related issues: teaching ethics and deliberative skills, and fostering and measuring the efficacy of ethics-related education curriculum and deliberative processes.

In its 2014 report Gray Matters: Integrative Approaches for Neuroscience, Ethics, and Society, the Bioethics Commission called for the integration of ethics and science through education at all levels. Today, the Bioethics Commission heard about pre-professional bioethics education with presentations from Sue Knight, Ph.D. of Primary Ethics Limited and Robert F. Ladenson, Ph.D. of the Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions.

Knight noted that it is possible to develop ethical literacy in students at all age levels. She said that while older students are able to engage more nuanced and morally complex situations, it can be surprising how very young children are able to identify ethical conduct. “Research shows that from the age of two and a half, children can distinguish between social convictions and moral laws,” Knight said.

Landenson has been seeking a greater focus at both the college and high school levels on deliberation and ethics by promoting an Ethics Bowl. Modeled on the Quiz Bowl format, student teams are assessed in their capacity to present and understand case studies in ethical quandaries. “The teams have to be able to listen to each other with an open mind,” said Landenson. “The team members have to be able to consider seriously different views and appreciate them, not in the sense of being persuaded, but in recognizing how a morally responsible person would hold that position.”

The next panel looked more broadly at what constitutes an effective approach to ethics education and, in a related discussion, what constitutes an effective deliberative process.

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.