Biomedical Ethics in Global Perspective

Discipline: Public Health
Instructor: Shepherd
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 0800
End: 0915
Field Work: Day 5 - Monday, 19 October | Spain Download Syllabus

This is a course in biomedical ethics that will be equally accessible to students of all disciplines.  Through reading, directed observation, discussion, and writing, it will introduce students to some of the most divisive, sharply debated, and rapidly evolving issues in society today. The course, which explores the intersection among medicine, technology, ethics, and law, will address bioethical principles as well as cultural and legal approaches to the following topics (among others): human reproduction, death and dying, organ transplantation, research involving human subjects, infectious disease and war, access to health care, and informed consent.  Readings and class discussion will focus on health care ethics in the countries we visit and in the U.S.  Along the way, we will increase our skills in ethical reasoning and in articulating the rationale for our views of the right things to do.

Field Work

Country: Spain
Day: 5 - Monday, 19 October

Spain is frequently described as having an “opt out” system for deceased organ donation as compared to the U.S.’s “opt in” system; it also has a very high rate of organ donation from deceased individuals and is often cited as an example in this area.  The objectives of this field lab would be

  • to understand generally available legal and ethical frameworks for organ donation and their potential consequences in terms of numbers of organ donated (the emphasis would be on deceased donor organs, although it would also be interesting to learn about donation from living donors).
  • to appreciate the differences between the legal and ethical norms relating to organ donation in Spain and the U.S.  and to consider how those differences may or may not reflect a country’s cultural and civic norms.
  • to gain general insights into the Spanish health care system.