Undergraduate Minor in Bioethics and Medical Humanities

The Bioethics and Medical Humanities Minor

15 credit hours total

Faculty Contact and Advisor: Prof. Erin Lamb Erin.Lamb@case.edu

Bioethics and Medical Humanities together comprise a vibrant area of scholarship concerning the most important and cutting-edge ethical and contextual issues surrounding biomedical research, health, and healthcare delivery. The study of such issues touches upon our most central human values and related behaviors. Exploring these questions is of crucial importance for all students, whether they plan to enter a career in the healthcare professions, biomedical research, law, nonprofit administration, or some other career path. The topics covered in Bioethics and Medical Humanities will help prepare students to become responsible world citizens in an increasingly complex biomedical environment. 

The CWRU Minor in Bioethics and Medical Humanities formally recognizes a student’s coordinated course of study comprised of courses currently offered by the Department of Bioethics and other departments in the College of Arts and Sciences. The Bioethics and Medical Humanities Minor is designed to give students ethical and social training centered around multi-level analyses of health, the delivery of healthcare and biomedical research, and to do so in a highly interdisciplinary manner.

I. REQUIRED COURSES (9 credit hours total)

These required courses are offered every year. Additional sections of these courses will be provided by the Bioethics faculty if necessary, based on student demand for the Minor. Students may choose three of the four courses listed below.

BETH 210: Perspectives on Health - Introduction to Medical Humanities and Social Medicine (3 credits)

This survey course is designed to give students a broad overview of medical humanities and medical social sciences. Students will engage materials from a wide range of disciplines and learn how to analyze which perspectives afford and obscure which types of knowledge relevant to health, illness and clinical practice.

BETH 271 – Bioethics: Dilemmas (3 credits)

This course introduces students to central ethical problems and issues surrounding biomedical research and the delivery of health care. Topic areas include clinical ethics and end-of-life decision making and research ethics.

BETH 371 – Advanced Bioethics (3 credits)

This course offers upper-level instruction on many key bioethical issues introduced in BETH 271. Students begin with an in-depth analysis of the philosophical and practical challenges involved in medical decision making for adults and pediatric patients. Next students examine ethical issues surrounding biomedical research. The course concludes by addressing the broader ethical problem of what duties we owe to future generations in terms our reproductive choices and the distribution of long-range burdens and benefits.


II. ELECTIVE COURSES (6 credit hours total)

Additional courses may be added to this electives list upon request by individual students. Any courses not on this this must first be approved by Department of Bioethics faculty director of the Minor (Dr. Erin Lamb) and must have substantial bioethics or medical humanities content (greater than 75%). Students receiving approval from the faulty director for any new elective course must also fill out a form at the Office of Undergraduate Studies.

Please review the Bioethics Undergrad Course Offerings for a comprehensive list of BETH courses for students. 


BETH 315 – Bioethics Short-Term Study Abroad Courses (3 credits) (Costa Rica, Spain, France, The Netherlands)

Each of these courses explores cross-cultural issues in bioethics, ranging from public health to euthanasia to bioethics and film.

BETH 360 – Science and Society (3 credits)

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. In order to illuminate these larger themes, this course focuses on two exciting areas of scientific inquiry: stem cell research and human gene editing.

BETH 371c – Advanced Bioethics Clinical Observation (1 credit)

This course is a one-credit class intended to give students experience in the clinical setting to better understand the ethical dilemmas that healthcare professionals face everyday. 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.

BETH 406 – Bioethics and Religion (3 credits)

This course examines the role of religion in a religiously pluralistic society, particularly as it pertains to the delivery of health care in the United States. This course offers insight on how religion shapes questions of justice in patient care and the ethical tools provided by Islam, Buddhism, and Evangelical Christianity.

ENGL 217B – Writing for the Health Professions

This course offers practice and training in the professional and technical writing skills common to health professions (e.g., medicine, nursing, dentistry).

ENGL 330 – Victorian Literature

This course will examine a wide array of British literature written during the nineteenth century. In particular, we will focus on how Victorian writers represented the workings of the human mind and traced the development of character in a number of different genres. We will also study the interplay between Victorian literature and the development of psychology as a discipline during the second half of the nineteenth century.

ENGL 341 – Rhetoric of Science and Medicine

This course explores the roles language and rhetoric play in constructing, communicating, and understanding science and medicine. It surveys current and historical debates, theories, research, and textual conventions of scientific and medical discourse.

ENGL 379 – Topics in Language: Writing and Healing Aspects of contemporary language studies.

Topics might include history/theories of rhetoric, discourse studies, cognitive linguistics, metaphor, language acquisition, stylistics. The version of this course that would count toward the Minor in Bioethics and Medical Humanities will consider linguistic and rhetorical approaches to healthcare, including narrative medicine, writing therapies, and other uses of language in the practices of healing.

ENGL 386 – Studies in Literature and Culture: Literature and Medicine

Boundary-crossing study of the relations between literary and other aspects of a particular culture or society, including theoretical and critical issues raised by such study. The version of this course that would count toward the Minor in Bioethics and Medical Humanities will be focused on literature and medicine.

HSTY 151 – Technology in European Civilization

This course introduces students to the relationship between technology and its social, political, and cultural settings, and to the values invested in technology at significant historical moments.

HSTY 152 – Technology in America

Origins and significance of technological developments in American history. Emphasis on the social, cultural, political, and economic significance of technology in American history. HSTY 202 – Science in Western Thought II The development of Western thinking about the natural world and our relation to it, as part of the culture.

HSTY 241 – Inventing Public Health

The core principle of this course is that public health is a concept that was formed in different ways at different times in different places. Course participants will learn about the close relationship between public health agencies and agendas and various kinds of social authority: political power, moral influence, colonial power, and others. Ultimately, the aim of the course is to show participants that even though public health seems a supremely common sense practice, it had a highly contested birth and early life that was anything but natural or pre-ordained. That complicated birth continues to shape public health to this day.

HSTY 243 – Age of Prozac

Although often experienced as an intensely individual, private, and painfully isolated affliction, depression has profound social and cultural dimensions. This course will neglect neither biological (neurochemical or genetic) perspectives, nor personal or psychological aspects, but will emphasize perspectives derived from history, anthropology, and sociology. While there may be tangential attention to bi-polar disorder ("manic depression"), the emphasis will be on unipolar depression. The course will conclude with an in-depth exploration of the rise of pharmaceutical treatments.

HSTY 293 – History of Drugs

This course will survey the rise and political, social, and cultural effects of drugs in modern societies with an emphasis on the late 19th and 20th century United States. First we will examine the global emergence and popularization of drugs as part of what David Courtwright has coined the "psychoactive revolution." Then, we will narrow this broad lens by shifting our gaze to narcotics in the expanding U.S. nation. Specifically, we will examine the shifting demographics, nature of, and debates regarding narcotic consumption, regulation, and policy--and how these disparately affect and shape the lives of diverse populations. Finally, we will explore the human toll of narcotics in post-World War II culture and cities.

HSTY 342 – Water

This seminar will explore the history of the meaning of water--that is, the social, cultural, and/or political significance placed on water by individuals and governments in different times and places. It will also examine how humans have acted upon water, and how it has acted upon humans, with great consequences for human life. This seminar will look at the history of water in the context of science, technology and society; public health; political science; and environmental history.

HSTY 346 – Guns, Germs, and Steel

Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel won the Pulitzer for non-fiction in 1998. Diamond, a physiologist, explains that Western Europe came to occupy and dominate large areas of the globe because of natural resources present in certain regions of the Old World since the end of the last Ice Age. Where a historian might look for answers in the written evidence left by historical individuals, Diamond examines ancient patterns of plant diffusion or the place of mountain ranges and deserts in the development of technologies. This seminar is about applying the history of a specific time and place namely North America from European contact to 1850 - to Diamond's general environmental explanations and models. Placing Diamond's broad explanations within specific historical contexts is revealing.

HSTY 373 – Women and Medicine

Students in this seminar will investigate the experiences of American women as practitioners and as patients. We will meet weekly in the Dittrick Medical Museum for discussion of texts and use artifacts from the museum's collection. After a unit exploring how the female body was viewed by medical theorists from the Galenic period to the nineteenth century, we will look at midwives, college-trained female doctors and nurses, and health advocacy among poor populations. We will then look at women's experiences in terms of menstruation, childbearing, and menopause, before exploring the cultural relationship between women and psychological disorders.

HSTY 395 – History of Medicine

This course treats selected topics in the history of medicine, with an emphasis on social and cultural history. Focusing on the modern period, we examine illnesses, patients, and healers, with attention to the ways sickness and medicine touch larger questions of politics, social relations and identity.

PHIL 101 – Introduction to Philosophy (3 credits)

Basic problems of philosophy and methods of philosophical thinking. Problems raised by science, morality, religion, politics, and art.

PHIL 203 – Revolutions in Science (3 credits)

Historical and philosophical interpretation of some epochal events in the development of science.

PHIL 204 – Philosophy of Science (3 credits)

Conceptual, methodological, and epistemological issues about science: concept formation, explanation, prediction, confirmation, theory construction and status of unobservables.

PHIL 305 – Ethics (3 credits)

Analysis of ethical theories and concepts of goodness, right, and obligation.