Division of Medical Ethics High School Bioethics Project
Many of the most urgent problems and challenges facing the world today—global pandemics, environmental destruction, genomics, the rise of AI, drug development—are fraught with ethical concerns. Future leaders should have a firm and early grounding in bioethical concepts and methodologies to address them justly and humanely. NYU Langone’s Division of Medical Ethics High School Bioethics Project helps fulfill the need for high school bioethics education by exposing students to the bioethics concepts and methodologies that underlie pursuits in life sciences that many students will undertake in areas as diverse as medicine, biotech and biopharmaceutical development, domestic and global public health, environment and climate science, social science research, and STEM careers. Scientific advances in all these fields regularly raise ethical concerns.
The High School Bioethics Project was established by Arthur L. Caplan, PhD, in 2001 at the University of Pennsylvania. This unique educational outreach effort is an extension of his commitment to engage the public in ethics issues—a cornerstone of his career. In 2012, the project moved to NYU Langone and became part of the Division of Medical Ethics.
Over the course of its lifetime, the High School Bioethics Project has worked to bridge curricular voids between high school life sciences and humanities courses and narrow the gap between academic research and public knowledge. In recent years, we have focused on exposing students from underserved communities and those who may not be familiar with bioethics to the field’s central concepts and teaching them how to apply those concepts to their own lives and futures.
The High School Bioethics Project is funded by a grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.
High School Bioethics Project Objectives
The goal of this self-contained, freely available set of courses is to guide teachers in establishing a foundation in ethical thinking for their students and pique student interest in this discipline for the long run. The lesson plans and learning scenarios cover a wide variety of bioethics topics, in language and case studies suitable for high schoolers, which teachers can integrate into their existing life science curricula. The plans are created primarily by high school interns, who partner with our division’s faculty and staff to construct lesson modules reflecting students’ interests and skills.
Our Lesson Plans and Learning Scenarios
Our collection of lesson plans and learning scenarios advises educators and students on nearly every hot-button bioethics topic, including environmental ethics and climate change, CRISPR and genetic testing, stem cells, vaccines, gender variance, youth participation in sports, physician aid in dying, organ donation, assisted reproduction technologies, and more.
At an individual level, we believe integrating bioethics instruction into high school classrooms and other educational forums equips future generations with the skills necessary for addressing the ethical and policy choices in healthcare and biomedicine that lie ahead. When teachers use our materials and allocate time and space to bioethics instruction in their classrooms, they create an atmosphere that encourages students to apply their own individual experiences, morals, and values to the concepts they learn. Fostering this culture not only brings ethics to life, but gives students the confidence to participate in conversations taking place in the greater scientific community.
High School Bioethics Project Team
Arthur L. Caplan, PhD, Project Director
Lisa Kearns, MS, MA, Associate Director
Selected High School Bioethics Resources
Following are selected high school bioethics media and resources available from other reputable institutions and organizations:
- National Student Bioethics Association
- The Hastings Center Bioethics Briefings for Journalists, Policymakers, and Educators
- Medical Ethicist Art Caplan on Boston Public Radio
- JSTOR Daily’s Bioethics: Key Concepts and Research
- At the Bedside Medical Humanities Podcasts
- Center for ELSI Resources and Analysis Snapshots
- Georgia State University College of Law “Bioethics: Inclusive Voices”
- Know Your Vaccines