Religion and Bioethics


Biomedical ethics is a field that is continually confronted with technological and scientific advances, yet some issues remain constant. This course will examine philosophical, theological, ethnological, and clinical dimensions of suffering, compassion, and care, with a view to discerning the contemporary social, ethical, and political implications of these classic concerns in biomedical ethics. General topics will include the:  (1) the problem of sickness and suffering in medical, anthropological, and theological perspective, (2) the need to balance compassion and respect for both caregivers and care recipients, particularly in the context of family care, and (3) the evolving relationship between religion and bioethics, particularly in the context of increased attention to the role of spirituality in healing.  Specific topics will include acute and chronic pain, disability, terminal illness, and aging, along with distinctive issues related to families, gender roles in caregiving, and the situation of religious and ethnic minorities in health care systems.  In addition to providing opportunities to consider of suffering, compassion, and care as more general issues for religious and biomedical ethics, this course will be an ideal preparation for those considering careers in clinical medical ethics, or for those already in the field who may be seeking opportunities for reflection on their own ethical practices.


“Very useful. This is the reason why I came to HDS. Intriguing, invigorating, intense. It is a very good class.”

 “There should be more classes like this in the curriculum.  I learned so much about caregiving–something I might otherwise not have though about until later in life.”

“Very useful, since I am interested in hospital chaplaincy. I would recommend it for students with a pre-existing interest in bioethics.”

 “It was absolutely useful to my studies because of its interdisciplinary approach. That is, we studied from theological, philosophical, and political perspectives. The list of reading assignments was excellent. As well as the concentration on modern issues.”

 “Overall, reading materials are excellent, insightful, and very, very interesting. They were extremely helpful. They were successfully coordinated. The combination of topics of each session and the reading assignments is perfect!”

 “I really enjoyed this class. Class discussions were really illuminating.”

 “Good instructor; useful discussion; good sources.”

 “Excellent books, knowledgeable and approachable prof. Enjoyable class.”