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.

In the first year of study, all graduate students in the MA in Bioethics and Medical Humanities program are required to complete the interdisciplinary core of 12 credit hours, extending over two semesters. This core seminar, BETH 401: Foundations in Bioethics I, and BETH 402: Foundations in Bioethics II, is taught by faculty in the Department of Bioethics and area healthcare institutions. The course covers basic topic areas in bioethics: methods and theories of bioethics and medical humanities, reproductive ethics, pediatric ethics, death and dying, organ transplantation, research ethics, neuroethics, public health ethics, and novel biotechnologies and genetics. The class meets twice per week in the evenings for seminar sessions.

In the first year of study, all graduate students in the MA in Bioethics and Medical Humanities program are required to complete the interdisciplinary core of 12 credit hours, extending over two semesters. This core seminar, BETH 401: Foundations in Bioethics I, and BETH 402: Foundations in Bioethics II, is taught by faculty in the Department of Bioethics and area healthcare institutions. The course covers basic topic areas in bioethics: methods and theories of bioethics and medical humanities, reproductive ethics, pediatric ethics, death and dying, organ transplantation, research ethics, neuroethics, public health ethics, and novel biotechnologies and genetics. The class meets twice per week in the evenings for seminar sessions.

The BETH 402C: 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 adviser. 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.

All students must complete BETH 405: Clinical Ethics Rotation over two semesters for a total of three credit hours (except students in research ethics concentration who only complete one-1.5 credit). Students are exposed to clinical cases as they arise, hospital ethics committees and ethics consultation programs, institutional review boards (IRBs), and hospital policies covering “do not resuscitate” orders (DNR), advance directives, withdrawal of artificial feeding, organ procurement and transplantation, and medical futility. They will become familiar with the clinical, psychological, social, professional, and institutional contexts in which ethical problems arise. Schedules will need to be somewhat individualized to meet student needs. The current locations for this course are Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Louis Stokes Cleveland Veteran Affairs Medical Center, MetroHealth System, and University Hospitals of Cleveland. A preceptor and site coordinator will be available and responsible for each hospital.

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.

This three credit course BETH 410 Foundations of Medicine, Society, and Culture includes topics of 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 enrolled in the BETH 602 MSC Seminar is an opportunity for students to attend a variety of talks and events throughout University Circle and the greater Cleveland community. This allows students to engage in learning environments outside of the classroom.

Research Ethics Concentration Requirements

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

This spring semester course, BETH 421 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 BETH 455/456 Research Ethics Journal Club 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 discussions.

BETH 503 Research Ethics and Regulation 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.