A Student Research Program from The Hastings Center and
The Ethics Institute at Kent Place School
In the spring of 2013, after an extensive application process, nine Kent Place School students were chosen as the second group to participate in The Bioethics Project—a student research program developed by The Hastings Center, an internationally recognized institute for the study of bioethics, and the Ethics Institute at Kent Place, a leader in high school ethics education. The Bioethics Project is an interdisciplinary program that bridges subjects such as science, philosophy, critical reading and writing, history, and politics. This year, the program focused on the issues of “The Donor.”
Beginning with a summer internship and continuing throughout the duration of the 2013/14 program, students have learned how to identify and analyze contemporary ethical dilemmas that emerge in the context of science and medicine—issues ranging from the fair distribution of resources in health care, to debates surrounding modern reproductive technologies. This symposium is their chance to share their findings with their families and school community and to lead us all in a conversation that tolerates opposing viewpoints and acknowledges the complexity inherent in complex social debates.
The Bioethics Project is modeled after The Hastings Center’s hallmark research methodology, which emphasizes the importance of bringing stakeholders and experts together to explore the ethical and social implication of a given bioethical issue. As students explored the debate over using medicine for human enhancement, they became the “experts,” honing in on a subtopic within this larger theme. Some examples of their research questions include the commodification of organs, the use of animals for transplantation, and the ethical issues surrounding the question of who society permits to be both donor and recipient.
Summer Internship: Students took an intensive crash course in ethical decision-making and bioethics, in which they were introduced to ethical concepts through engagement with a range of major topics and cases, each of which illustrated key ethical principles and the tensions between them. By the end of the summer, students had identified their individual research topics.
Research and Mentorship: At the start of the 2013-2014 school year, and with the guidance of Kent Place teachers and Hastings Center mentors, the students conducted their individual research projects. In the fall, they presented their preliminary findings to their teachers, mentors, and to each other at a day-long project workshop. Students articulated their findings and conclusions, and provided feedback to one another about areas for further research and development.
The Website and Community Symposium: With the benefit of the workshop feedback, students completed their research and drafted essays describing their findings and conclusions. These essays are published on this website. The community symposium is the culminating event of The Bioethics Project. It is an opportunity for the students to unveil their website and lead their community in educational workshops that showcase their research and analysis.
The Partners: The Hastings Center and The Ethics Institute at Kent Place School
The Hastings Center has for over 40 years led the field of bioethics, conducting interdisciplinary research on some of the most contested in medicine and science. Over this time, it has developed a distinguished track record of bring diverse people and perspectives together in workshops that are respectful and substantive. Its process is remarkably conducive to both finding areas of agreement and clarifying where moral differences exist.
The Ethics Institute at Kent Place has developed ethics education for Kent Place School students, teachers, parents and other community members and teacher training for primary and secondary school faculty to help them integrate the teaching of ethics into existing curricula in a variety of subject areas.