|Selected Courses

Medical Ethics, Human Health, and Human Suffering (Haverford College)

The 20th century witnessed remarkable advances in medicine, but, by century’s end, a range of ethical violations and concerns muddled both research and clinical practice. The course looks at why ethical guidelines became necessary, how technologies changed the contours of the medical landscape, and how the challenges of the public and private health sectors often have stood in conflict. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the medical enterprise today? What contributions have been made by governments, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, the media, patients, doctors, nurses, and the healthy public to what is working and what is not? What can be fixed and how?


Bioethics of the Natural World (Haverford College)

The power of the natural world is at once awe-inspiring and frightening. The earth’s landforms, oceans, atmosphere, living organisms, and ecosystems continually undergo change, renewal, and destruction. Increasingly, human activities have been triggering dramatic environmental changes, many of which are destructive. The environmental ethics movement provides lenses through which to examine how human activities and values are affecting the earth’s evolution. Can this perspective also provide strategies for action and renewal? The course explores structural, chemical, biological, radiological, and ecological damage to specific sites, species, and systems and then focuses on a search for strategies for remediation, reconstruction and repair. What changes must individuals, communities, policy makers, and others make in order to bring about environmental justice, halt environmental racism, and better defend the earth’s vitality and integrity?


Bioethical Dilemmas (Haverford College)

This course is a survey of six broad subject areas in bioethics: (1) the use and abuse of humans in research and in the clinic, (2) new genetic and reproductive technologies, (3) environmental justice, contamination, and remediation, (4) the use and abuse of animals in research, the food industry, circuses, and zoos, (5) issues in organ transplantation, and (6) peacetime and wartime bioethics. The focus is on case studies and the dilemmas that they pose, how decisions are made, who is affected by the outcomes, and what it all means. For each case, bioethical principles of justice, beneficence, nonmaleficence, autonomy, caring, truth-telling, and others help in understanding and parsing the complex issues.


Toward an AIDS-Free World (Haverford College)

What will it take to rid the world of AIDS? The course examines scientific, social, political, epidemiological, and economic factors that have complicated efforts to halt the spread of HIV and AIDS. Some people have actively thwarted AIDS research and the development of effective treatment strategies; others have pioneered policies and protocols that work. The course uses case studies from around the world to provide insights into approaches that have proved successful for slowing the advance of this daunting disease.


Infections and Inequalities (Haverford College)

A writing course that focuses on medical and social issues associated with infectious diseases and epidemics of humans and animals. Policy makers and societies choose how to distribute resources for preventions and treatments, often basing their decisions on political and social rather than medical, ethical, and public health considerations. The readings explore a range of infectious diseases and epidemics, the agents that cause them, the responses of communities to epidemics and to those who are ill, and policy decisions made by communities as they consider therapies, prevention strategies, and even quarantines. The work of a few key individuals is highlighted based on their visionary ideas and approaches to public health and equal access to preventions, treatments, and cures. Students critique and practice writing about infections, epidemics, and social justice issues in a range of forms.


The Nature of Nature (Johns Hopkins University)

A reading course that includes short stories, essays, articles, nonfiction books, novels, and other narrative forms that specifically address the beauty, power, and vulnerability of the natural world. How do exemplary writers develop and incorporate themes of nature into their writing? What are the relations of humans, animals, plants, insects, and other living organisms with one another and with their ecological niches? How have humans been affecting nature through preservation work, control efforts, and harmful acts?


Viewpoint Journalism (Johns Hopkins University)

A writing workshop about commentaries, op-eds, columns, essays, and other opinion pieces. What distinguishes viewpoint journalism from straight reporting? Students study the work of accomplished, well-known opinion writers. They develop expertise in subject areas of their own choosing and write a range of pieces that express and support their points of view. Students critique the work of one another.


Writing and Talking about Science (UCLA)

This course introduces researchers to the specifics of written and oral communications about clinical research. It is part of a graduate program in clinical investigation for physicians and researchers. Students learn about and practice effective writing techniques, communicating to a range of audiences (from research peers to the public), free writing, writing research papers and grant proposals, developing respectful informed consent documents, writing clinical narratives, and writing for the public. Also discussed are steps and missteps in the publication process.