Cultural Perspectives in Bioethics
1. Catalog Entry
Cultural Perspectives in Bioethics
Credit hours (3)
This course introduces students to a set of interdisciplinary issues concerning intra- and inter-cultural value and perspectival differences, including their impact on healthcare treatment decisions and/or end of life issues. The “set of interdisciplinary issues” will vary. Examples are: the impact of religious and holistic healing practices on the medical profession; the worlds of injured and PTSD-suffering veterans and their care; visual and performing arts in healthcare. Medical and Social Services professionals will develop useful understandings concerning these differences that enhance their ability to both directly provide and administratively allow effective health care ethics consultations in specific cases. This course is typically conducted in a hybrid format.
2. Detailed Description of Course
Through examining intra- and inter-cultural value and perspectival differences regarding a specific population or mindset, students learn to engage in careful reflection, resulting in practical advice and direction when ethical issues arise. Such issues might concern involuntary commitment for psychiatric treatment, patients or patient’s families refusing certain kinds of treatment on moral or religious grounds, access to certain treatments, proper ways to explain treatment options to patients and their families, and/or appropriate professional behavior and verbal boundaries for healthcare professionals in cases of treatment disagreements.
This course examines these and other basic bioethics issues through a study of particular cultural groups as they relate to contemporary healthcare. Because different instructors teach it, using different populations and cultural perspectives, the specific course content may vary, but in every case the learning goals listed below will be met.
By thinking about the issues raised by these different populations and cultural perspectives in a systematic way, students will gain not only a basic understanding of bioethical decision-making, but also specific techniques for properly providing or directing health care ethics consultations that move people past conflicts and into reality-based treatment directions.
3. Detailed Description of Conduct of Course
This course will be taught in spring semester each academic year. Among the learning activities students can expect, but are not limited to, the following:
• Lecture and discussion led by the instructor
• Small group discussion
• In-class formal or informal debates
• Individual and group oral presentations
• Informal and formal in-class and out-of-class writing assignments
• Individual and collaborative research activities involving library and Internet searches
• Written and oral analysis of cases and/or texts
• Written summaries/evaluations of out-of-class events
• Guest lecturers/presenters
4. Goals and Objectives of the Course
The curriculum is grounded in the educational core competencies of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH). The Cultural Perspectives in Bioethics course is designed to instill primary skills associated with Health Care Ethics Consultations (HCEC), namely assessment skills, or the ability to identify and analyze the nature of the value uncertainty or conflict, and the ability to access relevant ethics knowledge, i.e. literature, policy, guidelines, and standards. A subsidiary and contributory skill is also targeted by the course, namely interpersonal skill, the ability to listen well, educate the involved parties regarding the ethical dimensions of the consultation, and enable involved parties to communicate effectively.
By taking this course, students will be able to:
• Demonstrate knowledge of intra- and inter-cultural value differences that impact HCEC.
• Demonstrate knowledge of intra- and inter-cultural value differences related to medical technology and relationships to caregivers that impact HCEC.
• Demonstrate ability to listen well and communicate interest, respect, support, and empathy to involved parties.
• Demonstrate ability to elicit the moral views of the involved parties and educate involved parties regarding ethical dimensions of HCEC.
• Demonstrate ability to represent the views of the involved parties to others, enable the involved parties to communicate effectively and be heard by others, and recognize and attend to various relational barriers to communication.
5. Assessment Measures
Student progress in achieving the course-specific objectives and the General Education goals established for this course will be measured in a variety of ways. Because several instructors teach this course, the specific assessment instruments employed may vary, but in every case the instructor will typically employ a number of the following methods to evaluate aspects of student learning. However, they are not limited to these assessments.
• Graded and ungraded written assignments may be used to measure the student’s ability to read texts carefully, to identify underlying values and assumptions, to articulate central concepts, to analyze and construct reasonable, practical treatment plans, and to access relevant ethics knowledge, i.e., literature, policy, guidelines, and standards.
• Journals may be used to measure the development of self-reflection and progress in critical and creative thinking about the ideas, issues, population groups, mindsets and texts of the course.
• Class discussions, debates, and small group discussion may be used to measure the student’s logical and practical reasoning and oral communication skills as well as the student’s ability to work with others in a collaborative process.
• Individual and group oral presentations may be used to measure the student’s understanding of particular cultural positions, mindsets or issues as well as the student’s ability to present reasonable and persuasive arguments.
• Quizzes and objective tests may be used to measure the student’s basic knowledge of the course material and the student’s ability to read carefully and think with clarity.
• Essay exams may be used to measure the student’s understanding of the nature and methods of ethical inquiry, knowledge of the course material, ability to analyze and construct practical suggestions, and ability to communicate with clarity.
• Formal papers may be used to measure the student’s understanding of the nature of ethical inquiry and knowledge of specific population groups, mindsets or issues addressed in the course, as well as to measure the student’s ability to produce sustained, consistent and persuasive communications to and with others, to think and write with clarity, and to demonstrate an appreciation of the significance of ethics in the healthcare setting.
6. Other Course Information
Review and Approval
December 10, 2013