Core Courses

Traditional Program Requirements

All students regardless of concentration are required to take the core courses in the Traditional Program. We believe that laying a Foundation in Bioethics and Medical Humanities and Clinical Ethics is critical to those entering the healthcare world.

The first of the two required seminar courses, this course covers basic topic areas in bioethics and medical humanities: theories and approaches to bioethics and medical humanities; procreative liberty and reproductive ethics; pediatric ethics, death and dying; and organ transplantation. The course meets twice weekly and is taught in seminar format by Department faculty members and area clinicians who are experts on specific topics.

This course completes the required seminar core and covers the basic bioethics topic areas: research ethics, public health ethics, neuroethics, bioethics and novel technology including genetics, stem cells, microbiome. The course meets twice weekly and is taught in seminar format by Department faculty members and area clinicians who are experts on specific topics.This course is recommended to be taken after BETH 401: Foundations in Bioethics I.

The Bioethics and Medical Humanities Capstone paper is an opportunity for the student to demonstrate mastery in an area of Bioethics and Medical Humanities. It is intended to show engagement with interdisciplinary literature in bioethics and medical humanities and also an ability to construct and support an argument. The specific topic in bioethics and medical humanities is chosen by the student in consultation with a faculty reader. This 1.5 credit hour core course will include semester-long learning and will normally be taken in conjunction with the enrollment of the core course BETH 402: Foundations in Bioethics II. 

In this course, students will become familiar with the clinical, psychological, social, professional, and institutional context in which ethical problems arise. This course exposes students to clinical cases, to hospital ethics committees and ethics consultation programs, to institutional review boards (IRB), and to hospital policies covering the "do not resuscitate" orders (DNR), advance directives, withdrawal of artificial feeding, organ procurement and transplantation, and medical futility. Requires minimum of 8 total hours of rotation experience per week during two semester 10-week rotations. Locations for this course include: Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Louise B Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, MetroHealth System, University Hospitals of Cleveland. Recommended preparation: BETH 401 or concurrent enrollment.

Medicine, Society, and Culture Concentration Requirements

Students in the Medicine, Society, and Culture concentration also complete two course requirements in addition to the traditional program requirements.

Topics will include comparative medical systems and concepts of health, medical history, illness narratives and narrative ethics, social determinants of health and health inequalities, analysis of representations of illness and medicine in literature and the arts, and medical rhetoric. Students who complete the course should develop a command of the basic problems, approaches, and literatures in the social and cultural contexts of health sickness, and medicine. Students will be able to identify epistemology, theory, methodology and data from neighboring disciplines and understand affordances and costs in each.

Students will explore particular issues and themes in biomedical ethics in depth through independent study and research under the direction of a faculty member.

Research Ethics Concentration Requirements

Students in the Research Ethics concentration also complete three course requirements in addition to the traditional program requirements.

The Research Ethics Practicum (80 hours, 1.5 Credits) is designed to complement the theoretical and conceptual training received in the course, Critical Issues in Research Ethics. By way of a series of campus-wide rotations, students learn about the practical, everyday side of research administration, compliance, and scientific review. Students will work with key staff in research ethics centers, and observe their day-to-day operations, as well as attend institutional review board (IRB) and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) meetings. They will become familiar with human subjects, animal, and tissue research regulations and policies as these are applied in an institutional/academic research context. Students will also spend time in a clinical trials unit and tour animal care facilities. The practicum has the following overall objectives: (1) students will be able to identify, analyze, and understand research ethics issues as they develop in the context of actual institutional research governance (2) students will gain an understanding of methods of ethical research design and implementation.

This in-person seminar course will discuss current topics in biomedical research ethics via recently published articles in both the scholarly literature and the popular science press. For each session, students will choose articles with instructor’s guidance, prepare discussion questions, and lead discussion.

This course will introduce students to key ethical requirements and issues that arise in the design and implementation of scientific research. Historical developments leading to the establishment of national and international guidelines for ethical conduct in research with human subjects will be addressed. Specific international and national guidelines for ethically responsible research will be explored with attention to their merits and limitations in the conduct of research. Informed consent, a fundamental requirement for ethical research will be examined. The function and role of institutional review boards (IRBs) will be described with attention to challenges faced by investigators in adhering to regulatory requirements. Ethical issues associated with risk assessment and recruitment strategies will be examined. Ethical issues that arise in the implementation of biobanks and stem cell research will be discussed. Challenges associated with the development and production of pharmaceuticals will be assessed. The importance of scientific integrity in the conduct of research will be examined with special attention to conflicts of interest and scientific misconduct such as research fraud. The role of advocacy in promoting research will be addressed. Research ethics and human rights will be explored. The course will end with a discussion of emerging issues in research ethics. Case examples will be used to illustrate ethical complexities surrounding the topics discussed.