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School of
Medicine

Bioethics

Course Offerings

Course Offerings

BETH 271. Bioethics: Dilemmas. 3 Units.

We have the genetic technology to change nature and human nature, but should we? We have the medical technology to extend almost any human life, but is this always good? Should we clone humans? Should we allow doctor-assisted suicide for the terminally ill? This course invites students from all academic disciplines and fields to examine current and future issues in bioethics--e.g., theory and methods in bioethics; death and dying; organ transplantation; genetics; aging and dementia; fertility and reproduction; distributive justice in health care access. The course will include guest lecturers from nationally-known Bioethics faculty. Offered as BETH 271, PHIL 271. 

BETH 314. Global Health: India. 3 Units.

Bioethics is the study of ethical controversies arising at the intersection of biology, medicine, technology, politics, law, philosophy, religion, and culture. This course will discuss and analyze the issue of health in India; recognizing that health is more than the diagnosis and treatment of a disease. Using three diseases (HIV/AIDS, leprosy, and tuberculosis) students will explore the relationship between culture and health care outcomes. Relevant issues addressed in the course include the history of British rule in India, Hinduism, the Caste system, poverty, access to education and public policy. Faculty will introduce readings on the history of India, medical anthropology, religion and the law. Students will then be given the opportunity to focus on a particular topic, research the existing literature, present their findings to the class and create a plan to observe the chosen topic while in India during the Summer semester. Course instructors include Nicole Deming, JD, MA Assistant Professor of Bioethics; Deepak Sarma, Ph.D., Associate Professor of South Asian Religions; and Gopal Yadavalli, MD Assistant Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Infectious Diseases Clinic at the Cleveland VA Medical Center. The course will also invite guest lectures from many different departments and schools to share their expertise and experience in the areas of Global Justice, Anthropology, and Human Rights. 

BETH 315. International Bioethics: Policy and Practice. 3 Units.

Taught by CWRU and international faculty, this course will include 7-10 days of intensive didactic and experiential learning in one of several "host" countries. Examples of sites include Free University of Amsterdam and University of Utrecht in the Netherlands; the University of Paris in France; and Ben Gurion University in Israel. It will afford a unique opportunity to gain perspective on important bioethics issues in different societies, i.e., euthanasia, public health policies, access to healthcare, and stem cell research. At the international site, students will spend 6 hours per day (5 days) in a seminar (involving didactics, discussion, and guided-observation clinical experience). There will be two 3-hour preparatory sessions, required reading, and two 3-hour post-trip sessions. Requirements: preparation, attendance, and class participation, a 12-15 page paper (undergraduate credit) and a 15-20 page paper (graduate credit). Graduate credit will also require students to prepare a presentation for a post-intensive session. Enrollment will be capped at 25. This course has an additional fee to cover costs of travel and lodging. Limited scholarships are available. Offered as BETH 315 and BETH 415. 

BETH 315A. International Bioethics Policy and Practice: Women's Health in the Netherlands. 3 Units.

This 3-credit course allows students to familiarize themselves with social policies and practices related to women's health in the United States and the Netherlands. Issues covered in the course include birth control and family planning, abortion, prenatal testing, childbirth, health care disparities, cosmetic surgery, prostitution and trafficking in women. This course also addresses the US and Dutch national policies regarding the public provision of health care for women. The course places an emphasis on the ways in which social norms shape policies over time, which political actors are involved in shaping women's health policy, and the balance between women's health as a matter of the public good or individual responsibility. This course substantively explores gender-specific cultural values and practices in relation to women's health in the United States and the Netherlands and will help students develop the analytical skills necessary for evaluating social policy and ethical issues related to women's health. Offered as BETH 315A and BETH 415A. Counts for CAS Global & Cultural Diversity Requirement.

BETH 315B. International Bioethics Policy and Practice: Public Health in the Netherlands. 3 Units.

This one week 3-credit intensive course will be held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Taught by faculty from CWRU and Utrecht University, this course offers students a cross-cultural perspective on ethical dilemmas raised by the practice of public health in the United States and Northern Europe. Additionally, this course examines policies related to prostitution, drug use, sex education, infectious disease prevention, and access to health care and how they differ in the cultural and political settings of U.S. and the Netherlands. We will examine both the rationales and outcomes of Dutch and American policies, stimulating course participants to consider their own views on these often controversial issues. Prior to the trip, students will attend lectures at CWRU, which will acquaint them with the theoretical approaches to public health ethics and major issues raised in the practice of public health. In these pre-trip sessions, students will also analyze and report on a case study designed to stimulate critical thinking on comparative public health ethics. In Amsterdam, students will attend lectures that will be supplemented by site visits and discussion sessions aimed at exploring the ethics of public health policy and practice in the Netherlands. Following the intensive week in Amsterdam, students will meet with instructors at CWRU for two hours to discuss their experiences and compare policies and practices in the U.S. and the Netherlands. Offered as BETH 315B and BETH 415B. Counts for CAS Global & Cultural Diversity Requirement. 

BETH 315C. International Bioethics Policy and Practice: Health Care Costa Rica. 3 Units.

This 3-credit course gives students the unique opportunity to observe patients and practitioners encounter in a radically different health care system. Costa Rica has one of the most comprehensive health care systems in the Western hemisphere, featuring the innovative use of mid-level health care workers organized in basic comprehensive health care teams. This has resulted in a longer life expectancy than the United States, despite a per capita GDP of only $10,000 per person. Students will gain first-hand experience of Costa Rican health care through field experiences at sites including a national hospital in the capital city, San Jose; a peripheral treatment clinic in a smaller town; and observation of the work of an integrated basic health care team in an indigenous reserve. Following each visit, students will discuss the practical and ethical dilemmas that practitioners face in the context of the Costa Rican health care system. Specific topics include health inequalities within and between nations; the ethics of transplantation, medical research, and end-of-life care; and health care in rural environments and with indigenous populations. Offered as BETH 315C and BETH 415C. Counts for CAS Global & Cultural Diversity Requirement. 

BETH 315D. French Connections, A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Medical Ethics. 3 Units.

This 3-credit course is a collaboration between Case Western Reserve University and the University of Paris. The course includes a ten-day trip to Paris, France over Spring Break. This course offers a cross-cultural comparison of the French and American medical systems. Students will have the unique opportunity to learn first-hand how the French medical education system is structured and how the social, cultural and political contexts in France shape medical and ethical issues. The trip includes guided field experiences in French clinical settings as well as opportunities to engage with French faculty members and physicians about contemporary issues in bioethics. Ethical issues that may be considered may include reproductive rights, decision-making involving severely impaired newborns, withholding/withdrawing life-sustaining treatment and issues in organ donation and transplant. The course also will also emphasize the role of French culture and history while in Paris with museum and site visits designed to complement seminar content and offer real-life illustrations of course content. Prior to the trip, students attend six hours of lectures, either at Case Western Reserve University or via a web-based tutorial. They are expected to become familiar with the representative articles assigned for the course and be prepared to integrate those readings into pre-trip class participation and active participation while in France. Following the trip, students meet with the instructor for an additional four hours to discuss and synthesize their experiences. Offered as BETH 315D and BETH 415D. Counts for CAS Global & Cultural Diversity Requirement. 

BETH 315E. International Bioethics: Policy and Practice--US and Spanish Perspectives, Salamanca Spain. 3 Units.

This 3-credit hour course will introduce advanced undergraduate and graduate students to theoretical and practical aspects of bioethics in a European context. Continental health professionals and bioethicists work in an environment that differs from the American context in at least three important dimensions: the political structure of their health care systems, the cultural influence of their religious histories, and the theoretical perspective of continental moral philosophy. The University of Salamanca in Spain, one of the oldest universities in Europe (known as the "Oxford of Spain"), will be used in this course as a focal point for examining the interplay of these three dimensions in shaping institutional and professional approaches to specific problems in bioethics, including end of life decisions, organ procurement and allocation, reproductive ethics, health care justice, and environmental bioethics ("eco-ethics"). This course will help advanced students who are already grounded in American bioethics develop the analytical skills necessary for evaluating European bioethical scholarship and policy-making, while helping less advanced students develop a familiarity with fundamental similarities and differences between bioethics in Spain and the U.S. The course will include a one week trip to Salamanca, Spain where students will be taught by instructors and faculty from the University of Salamanca. Teaching will include some guided field experiences and regular discussion sessions with the course faculty. Prior to the trip, students will attend 4 hours of class at CWRU to become familiar with elements of political theory and moral philosophy relevant to the in-country discussions. Following the trip, students will meet with instructors for an additional 2 hours. Offered as BETH 315E and BETH 415E. Counts for CAS Global & Cultural Diversity Requirement. 

BETH 315F. Bioethics Themes as Expressed in Spanish and American Culture: Film, Television, and Literature. 3 Units.

This 3-credit intensive course will be held in San Sebastian, Spain. Taught by faculty from CWRU and University of the Basque Country, this course offers students a cross-cultural perspective on bioethics in the United States and Spain. This course uses the medium of film, complemented by readings in bioethics, film criticism, and medical research, to introduce students to a number of compelling bioethics problems facing physician-scientists today, including: when life begins, the nature and limits of informed consent, use of randomization without equipoise, medical imperialism (or the appearance thereof), the treatment of so-called "orphan" diseases, use of deception in research, and financial conflicts of interests caused by among other things, the involvement of the pharmaceutical industry in the drug invention process. Offered as BETH 315Fand BETH 415F. Counts for CAS Global & Cultural Diversity Requirement. 

BETH 315G. Death, Dying & Euthanasia: Netherlands & the USA. 3 Units.

Is it ever permissible for physicians to kill their patients? In the Netherlands, the answer is yes. In the United States, it is no. Are the Dutch sliding down a moral slippery slope? Are the Americans compromising the rights and dignity of dying patients? This 3-credit course is a unique opportunity to examine a range of Dutch and American end-of-life policies and practices with special focus on the unique ethical, cultural, religious, and legal contexts in which they developed. This course will compare how two liberal democracies, the United States and the Netherlands, have handled difficult end-of-life issues, including The Dutch regulation of euthanasia; Regulation of physician-assisted suicide in the state of Oregon; Terminal sedation; End-of-life decisions in newborns; Withholding and withdrawing of artificially-provided fluids and nutrition; The legal basis for end-of-life decision making in the USA; Palliative care and hospice; Public trust in medicine and physicians. In the United States, teaching methods will include lectures, case discussion, and exposure to how some of the course's themes are reflected in popular culture such as movies. Offered as BETH 315G and BETH 415G. Counts for CAS Global & Cultural Diversity Requirement. 

BETH 353. Hindu and Jain Bioethics. 3 Units.

This course will provide both an introduction to basic Hinduism and Jainism and an introduction to Hindu and Jain bioethics. We will ask: How would a Hindu or a Jain respond to issues concerning euthanasia, abortion, and other topics of controversy. Are these answers altered in the North American context or in the light of recent technological changes? Offered as RLGN 353, RLGN 453, BETH 353, and BETH 453. Counts for CAS Global & Cultural Diversity Requirement. 

BETH 360. Science and Society. 3 Units.

This course examines the complex ethical and other value relationships that exist between science and society. Students will be encouraged to question the simplistic view that science proceeds independently of societal values and contentious ethical commitments. A range of other social factors, such as ethical belief systems, political forces, and large-scale financial interests all influence new scientific and technological developments. In order to illuminate each of these larger themes, this course focuses on three exciting areas of scientific inquiry: stem cell research; synthetic biology; and nanotechnology. Each of these contentious scientific fields provides an excellent view into the challenging ethical, cultural, social, political, and economic issues that will face students, both as scholars and as citizens. No prior technical knowledge is necessary for any of these scientific areas. All relevant scientific information will be provided during the course by the professor. Offered as BETH 360, BETH 460 and PHIL 360. 

BETH 371. Advanced Bioethics. 3 Units.

This course offers upper-level instruction on many key bioethical issues introduced in BETH/PHIL 271. The class follows a discussion-intensive seminar format. Students begin with an in-depth analysis of ethical issues surrounding the conduct of clinical trials, both within the U.S. and through U.S.-sponsored research abroad. Next students examine the philosophical and practical challenges involved in medical decision making for adults and pediatric patients. This course concludes by addressing the broader ethical problem of what duties we owe to future generations in terms of our reproductive choices and the allocation of health-related public expenditures. Each of these general topic areas - clinical trials, medical decision making, and future generations - is of crucial importance for all students whether one plans to enter a career in biomedical research, the healthcare professions, or some other career path. Everyone is a potential patient or the family member of a potential patient. The topics covered in Advanced Bioethics will help prepare students to become responsible participants in an increasingly complex biomedical world. Offered as BETH 371 and PHIL 371. Prereq: BETH 271 or PHIL 271. 

BETH 371C. Advanced Bioethics: Clinical Observation. 1 Unit.

This course is a one credit class intended to supplement BETH 371: Advanced Bioethics. In this course, students will become familiar with the clinical, psychological, social, professional, and institutional context in which bioethical problems arise. Students are exposed to clinical cases as they arise, to hospital ethics committees and ethics consultation programs, to institutional review boards (IRB), and to hospital policies covering "do not resuscitate" orders (DNR), advance directives, withdrawal of artificial feeding, and medical futility. The clinical rotation will consist of 20 hours of supervised observation where students attend structured clinical activities such as ICU rounds, case conferences as well as shadow clinicians that work with the Department of Bioethics and are used to having students at various levels of observers. The purpose of the clinical rotation will be to give students first-hand observational experience in the health care system and how the key bioethical issues discussed in BETH 371 manifest in the clinical setting. The primary locations for this course are MetroHealth Medical Center and Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center. Prereq: BETH 271 or PHIL 271. Coreq: BETH 371 or PHIL 371.