The following core courses offer students a solid foundation in bioethics and science policy and a springboard for further exploration and study.
An examination of the relationship between the law and bioethical issues, particularly in research and medical contexts. The course will explore the ways scientific advances affect law and other social institutions, and, conversely, how law affects the development and use of scientific knowledge. Topics include the history of human subject protections, current regulatory and statutory issues in research, and legal decisions governing informed consent, confidentiality, privacy, and other issues.
An introduction to cutting-edge developments in science, medicine, and technology as well as the difficult ethical questions they raise. This two-semester course will meet weekly and feature guest speakers, including policy-makers, regulators, criminal investigators, legislators, activists, and prominent academics in the fields of policy, bioethics, law, and neuroscience. Students will have the opportunity to engage with speakers and to explore potential career paths.
An exploration of questions at the intersection of science and law. This course will cover the history of government funding for research and development, the emergence of research at academic institutions, the effect of new technologies on science policy, the impact of neuroscience and functional brain imaging on the law, and the use of genomics in reproductive technologies.
An examination of the leading issues in bioethics, especially those that arise in the context of clinical decision-making and the doctor-patient encounter. The focus will be on the ethical dilemmas faced by medical providers, patients, and their families: how issues are analyzed, what values are considered, and how disputes are resolved. Topics will include end-of-life care; withdrawal or refusal of life-sustaining treatment; pediatric ethics; transplantation; and rationing of scarce drugs or resources. The course will use real case examples to illustrate these dilemmas and challenges.
This course provides students in the sciences with practical training in the communication of scientific research to non-scientists, and helps them develop skills essential to doing meaningful outreach. Topics covered include the empirical benefits of communicating science; development of speaking, writing, and storytelling practices for diverse audiences; answering difficult, controversial, and critical questions from the media; and tweeting, blogging, and presenting research to engage non-scientists (including the lay public and policy-makers).
An introduction to technology policy and ethics. The course will cover current issues in technology policy, such as privacy, antitrust, harmful content and free expression, law enforcement, human rights, and market entry. Students will be expected to approach these policy issues from the perspective of a decisionmaker in the field, and to integrate ethical considerations into concrete product and policy decisions. There will be 10 class meetings, along with one immersion exercise held on a Saturday.