Programs to Teach Bioethics in Secondary Schools

Referenced in Teaching Bioethics at the Secondary School Level by Laura J. Bishop and Lola Szobota, Hastings Center Report September–October 2015; 45(5): 19-25

(We want to acknowledge every program, every person involved, and each funder so please contact Laura Bishop if you have additional information to add)

Each of these programs made — or is making a contribution — to bioethics education at the secondary school level. Different approaches or models were used based on available resources of funding, time, and personnel. Comments about the pedagogical approach are not intended to be critical but to highlight specific ways in which each program developed and implemented their goal of providing information and resources to high school teachers and students interested in learning about bioethics issues and topics.

Explore the full set of High School Bioethics Curriculum Project resources →

The High School Bioethics Curriculum Project is an initiative of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University.

Program and Funders and Collaborators (F&C) Intended Audience Pedagogical Approach Philosophy and Goals Key/Principle Players Publications or Online Resources (see article reference list for full citations)
First Generation Efforts — Foundation and Inspiration
1970–1980: American Biology Teacher HS/College Teachers and Professors Bioethics introduced in science classes

No formal training provided to teachers
Bioethics could be used to help teach science George H. Kieffer, Jon R. Hendrix, Thomas R. Mertens, Sheldon Gottlieb, Sara McCormack Wilson Kieffer, "Can Bioethics Be Taught?" (1979) and "Should Bioethics Be Taught?" (1980);
J.R. Hendrix and T.R. Mertens, "Empowering Teachers to Meet Students & Peers' Educational Needs" (1990);
S.M. Wilson and Others, "Teaching about Technological Death and Dying and Euthanasia" (1979); S.F. Gottlieb, "Teaching Ethical Issues in Biology" (1976)
1980–1990’s: Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana

College Training workshops provided to undergraduate professors of biology

No formal training provided to teachers
Bioethics could be used as a means to engage incoming college students in science Jon R. Hendrix "Search Biosocial Goals and Human Genetics: An Impact Study of NSF Workshops" (1987)
1984–1990's: Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Bioethical Issues Teachers/students Accessible resources/timely topics; expert commentary

No established program
Materials presented arguments from two different perspectives and primed the discussion of bioethics Carol Levine, Editor of the Hastings Center Report Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Bioethical Issues (book series Levine edited 1984-2012 (14th ed.; now Gregory Kaebnick, current Hastings Center Report editor, edits 15th (2013) & 16th (2015) editions)
Second Generation Efforts — Development and Exploration
1989–2014: New Choices, New Responsibilities: Ethical Choices in the Life Sciences: A Program on Bioethics for High School Biology Courses, New Jersey

F&C: Collaboration between the Hastings Center, Roche, NJ, (Roche Pharmaceuticals) and New Jersey Science Supervisors (NJSSA) now known as New Jersey Science Education Leadership Association (NJSELA)
High School teachers

Middle School Cases added in 1995
Case Studies with developed lesson plans and teacher resources provided; immersion into the program and follow up day during the academic year

Professional development program limited to New Jersey teachers
Developed materials used to enhance public understanding of the use of animals in research and of other bioethical issues;

Used Hastings Center Decision Model
James Simes, Lola Szobota

Aarti Mallya, Toni Adamiak, Donna Griggs, Chris Russoniello
New Choices, New Responsibilities: Ethical Choices in the Life Sciences: A Program on Bioethics for High School Biology Course (1990) (teaching strategy, units on genetics, animals in science, AIDS, environmental responsibility);

Case study supplement 1995 (middle and high school)

2nd ed. 1997, and partial revisions in 2004 & 2005 adding unit on organ transplantation
1998–2006: Kennedy Institute of Ethics High School Bioethics Curriculum Project, Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University, Washington, DC

F&C: The Greenwall Foundation and an Anonymous Bequest to Georgetown University
High School Collaboration between bioethics experts, classroom teaching experts, and bioethics information specialists; Interdisciplinary program with developed case studies; week long program with intense immersion; emphasized the possibility of team teaching; film lending library; film and book bibliographies; customized resources by request for teachers and students from Bioethics Research Library

Limited funding; part-time staff
Encouraged teachers to incorporate bioethics questions and issues in to existing curriculum rather than requiring separate stand alone bioethics resources; no single theoretical or decisional model endorsed

Later interdisciplinary model incorporating theoretical tools developed by Laura Bishop
Kennedy Institute of Ethics

PI: LeRoy Walters, Founder: Ruth Guyer

Second Director: Laura Bishop

Lead Teachers: Lola Szobota (science) Linda Anderson (history & ethics), Mary Lou Dillon (social studies)

Louisana Regional Lead Teachers: Linda Harvison (economics and administration), Carol Boudreaux (religion), Lori Harper (biology)
Case Studies and Materials for four units: Babies Born at Risk (neonatal ethics), Organ Transplantation, Research Involving Human Subjects, and Eugenics

Introduction to Ethical Theory for the Purposes of Teaching Bioethics Issues and Topics in the High School Classroom [Teaching Ethics Manual for Secondary School Teachers] (c2006)

"Bioethics Cases and Issues: Enrichment for Social Science, Humanities, and Science Courses"
2000–2010+?: Northwest Association for Biomedical Research (NWABR) Ethics in the Science Classroom, Seattle, Washington

F&C: Eisenhower Professional Development Higher Education Program Funds; NIDA (2000-2003); NIH/SEPA; SEPA/CAUSE (2002-2006); NSF/CURE (2007-2010)
High School biology and science teachers Week long program with intense immersion; online teacher resources and science experts available for local school visits; solid research and data collection about teacher use and program impact

Program requires a fulltime staff devoted to the program; Professional development mainly aimed at Washington State teachers in science classrooms
Provided resources to teachers to use within their classrooms along with professional development;

Initially used variation on Hastings Center Decision Model until later development of specific model by Jeanne Chowning
Jayne Mackta (NJABR), Susan Adler (NWABR), Carolyn Landel, Jeanne Chowning, Susanna Cunningham, Lola Szobota, Michael Pritchard, Laura Bishop, Bruce Fuchs, and Louisa Stark Ethics Primer;

Ethics and Science of HIV Vaccine Research, the Ethics and Science of Stem Cell Research, and Ethics and Genetics of Nicotine Addiction.
2002–2012: Center for Bioethics, University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, PA

F&C: US Department of Education & The Greenwall Foundation
High School teachers;

High school students
Provided web based resources, homework help, Bioethics Briefs and Bioethics Modules

employed standard answers; no individual reference help
Focused on developing an online resource for high school students Dominic Sisti; Arthur Caplan; other staff Bioethics Brief (various topics) and Bioethics Modules (various topics)

As of July 2012, this project is part of the Division of Medical Ethics at the New York University School of Medicine
Other Second Generation Contributors
1994–1996: Two Week Summer Institute, Long Island, NY

High School Intense immersion over a two week program with follow up

Program was short lived due to death of Ted Goldfarb
Provided an instructional guide with model lessons as an online resource (1999) Theodore Goldfarb, SUNY, Stony Brook, LI, Michael Pritchard, Western Michigan State University "Ethics in the Science Classroom: An Instructional Guide for Secondary School Science Teachers with Model Lessons for the Classroom"
Ronee Yashon High School teachers Provided resources on bioethics and legal issues

No teacher training
Focused on providing resources on classroom discussion Ronee Yashon 1993–1997: Case Studies in Bioethics I and II; Landmark Legal Cases for Science Teachers
1997–2006: Brian Schrag, editor; Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, Bloomington, Indiana

F&C: NSF Grant Numbers SBR-9421897 and SES-9817880
Undergraduates and Graduate students Research ethics focus; commentaries written by graduate and post-doctoral fellows in physical, natural, social sciences & engineering Provided substantive and expert educational resources around research ethics Brian Schrag Research Ethics: Cases and Commentaries Volumes 1–7

For information about these resources, visit
Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, University of Santa Clara, CA

F&C: donors to the Markkula Center
High School and Middle School students Program targeted at-risk middle and high school students through "character-based literacy"

Limited to local area
Program focused on providing literature for character education Markkula Center The Center suggests using literature for character education
University of Iowa's Biotechnology Center Science teachers Provides support for teachers through summer workshops, an online bioethics course, and school outreach in the areas of biotechnology and agriculture

Iowa focus
Biotech resources University of Iowa's Biotechnology Center
National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science at the University at Buffalo, State University of NY

Undergraduate science professors; expanded in recent years to include high school teachers Professional development workshops; teacher developed database of case studies and supporting materials for use in classrooms

science focus
Provides professional development training and resources in using the case study method

Teacher developed case study database for teacher use
Clyde (Kip) Herreid, Nancy Schiller
The Genetic Science Learning Center (GSLC), University of Utah High School teachers and students Very engaging computer animations, accessible information to support teaching of science aspects of bioethics issues

not a curriculum program
Provides online resources to help teachers teach and students learn genetics concepts in engaging ways Louisa Stark
Staff members
1995: New Jersey Association for Biomedical Research (NJABR) Programs

Videodiscovery, Inc.

High School teachers and high school students Employed computers for classroom use; program permitted individual student self-timed instruction

required special technology to play the VideoDisc
Introduced media and computer aided independent learning idea Jayne Mackta, Executive Director, NJABR and D. Joseph Clark, Executive Producer "Bioethics Forums: Critical-Thinking Activities for Biology Students" (VideoDisc for teacher and student use) (offered both a Teacher's Manual and a Student Resource Book)
NJ Center for Ethics Education High School teachers Limited life span Teacher education and support Jayne Mackta
Helen Blank
Speaking of Ethics! A Guide for Classroom Teachers
Third Generation — Government Involvement and Expansion
National Institutes of Health, Office of Science Education Curriculum Supplement Series High school science teachers Collaboration between educators and bioethics experts; fully developed curriculum modules ready for use in the classroom; national platform; free

no face-to-face teacher training
Offered decision making framework using key questions; did not strive for consensus in answers NIH Office of Science Education, NIH Center for Clinical Bioethics, and Education Development Center staff and writing team Exploring Bioethics Curriculum Supplement
President’s Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues Public education and professional, undergraduate and high school education student education In-depth analysis by experts on issues for which there is contemporary concern; national platform; Executive level body currently advising on policy for the US

materials require interpretation for use by younger students
Make materials accessible to US citizens and students so that the work of the Commission could be integrated and discussed in public life President’s Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues – see list of commissioners and staffers Multiple study guides, webinar materials, and other educational resources are available at:
Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School (formerly Pope John Paul the Great Catholic High School) High School students Bioethics is integrated into all curricular areas and included as course electives

Program requires 5 bioethics courses and offers 2 elective bioethics courses

Requires full commitment by faculty and staff and continuing professional development; requires specialized bioethics curriculum developed specifically for the high school course
Provide a school environment that integrates bioethical values, concepts, throughout the curriculum

“The following three concepts permeate the entire Bioethics curriculum like a recurring theme:

1) The exalted dignity of every human person because of his God-given powers of intellect and free will,
2) The objective nature of ethical norms as laws which are derived from human nature, and
3) The relation of moral norms to genuine human fulfillment.
School administration, faculty, students, parents Information about Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School’s Bioethics Curriculum:

See the course catalog (accessible from the link above) for bioethics course titles and descriptions.
Graduation requires 2.5 bioethics credits, or at least .5 credits for each year in attendance.
Kent Place School Grades K–12 Ethics Institute presents a specialized program for students, faculty, parents, and community

Reaches students 5th grade to 12 grade

Requires full commitment of faculty, parents, and community
Promote ethical awareness through ethical decision making

"Our Mission: To promote the process and practice of ethical decision-making in primary and secondary school communities. To provide ethics-related programs to the Kent Place School constituents and the greater community. To become a center for research and resources on ethics-related issues relevant for the 21st century."
Karen Rezach, Director of The Ethics Institute
Eva Lazar, Ethics Institute Program Coordinator

School administration, faculty, students, parents, community
Ethics Institute; uses Ethics resources created by the Kennedy Institute of Ethics and the Hastings Center
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) Teachers, undergraduate and high school students Resources are developed by experts in the field and widely available to teachers and students, require no registration or fee, flexible schedule; great adjunct materials for home schooled or interested students

Impact of such courses on students especially high school students remains to be seen; no college credit is yet possible for high school students
Quality, online and free education should be accessible to all Universities, staff developers Some examples of bioethics or bioethics-related MOOCs are:

Kennedy Institute Introduction to Bioethics MOOC

Peter Singer Practical Ethics Course MOOC

Michael Sandel Justice Course
International Efforts
Eubios Ethics Institute High school teachers in Australia, Japan, New Zealand Three independent surveys provided feedback from teachers on their knowledge and teaching of a variety of topics in biotechnology

Results were published but no evidence of continuing work
NA Dr. Darryl R.J. Macer, Director of the Eubios Institute in Tsukuba, Japan Y. Asada et al., “High School Teaching of Bioethics in New Zealand, Australia and Japan,” Journal of Moral Education 25, no. 4 (1996): 401-20.

D. R. J. Macer et al. High School Teaching of Bioethics in New Zealand, Australia and Japan (Tsukuba, Japan: Eubios Ethics Institute, 1996),

D. R. J. Macer, “High School Bioethics Education Network in Japan,” in Bioethics in Asia, ed. N. Fujiki and D. R. J. Macer (Tsukuba, Japan: Eubios Ethics Institute, 1998), 152-66,
Portuguese Conselho Nacional de Ética para as Ciências da Vida General public, high school teachers Served as a nation-wide effort to support the teaching of bioethics in high school Established to encourage reflection on the current issues National Ethics Council for the Life Sciences Proceedings
Colecção Bioética | 10 Educação e Formação em Bioética - Actas do 9th Seminário do CNECV
2004: Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) — Singapore Ministry of Education Primary and secondary school teachers and students National program supported by Singapore’s Ministry of Education

Character and civic education is supported from earliest elementary years through high school studies

Requires continuing support and teacher professional development
Provide teachers and students with a curriculum focused on character education National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Centre for Biomedical Ethics of the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine

Professor Leonardo D. de Castro, Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow and Professor Alastair V. Campbell, Th.D., Centre Director at NUS.
2010: Bioethics Matters: Bioethics Education High School teachers and High school students especially in New Zealand independent, stand-alone program; flexible and accessible

new model of provision

limitations of solo practitioner
Provide teachers and students with training and tools to address complex issues in biotechnology Deborah Stevens