Healthcare Ethics Course Descriptions & Syllabi

Academic Courses

HCE 642: Healthcare Ethics in a Diverse Society
Offered Fall only, odd years by Dr. Joris Gielen

This course follows a seminar format which after an introductory session devotes most of class time to presentations by students, group discussion and development of the research essay. Through teacher instruction, their own creative research and the critical input of other students the students become aware of the particular challenges which contemporary multicultural society poses to healthcare ethics. The students learn to identify these challenges in a clinical context, and in the field of normative healthcare ethics. Particular attention is paid to health disparities and the difficulties related to the development of normative ethical arguments in a multicultural context. The students learn to develop strategies to overcome these challenges.

HCE 643: Ethics of Care
Offered Spring only, odd years by Dr. Joris Gielen

This course discusses the contribution of care ethics to bioethics. Principlism's very strong influence on bioethics in the Anglo-Saxon world should not make us lose sight of other ethical theories which are conducive to bioethics. Care Ethics presents itself as a promising alternative theory. Throughout this course students learn to analyze bioethical issues using a care ethics approach. In the first part of the course the students are made familiar with the foundations and particular approach of Care Ethics. In the second part, we assess to what extent Personalism can enhance a Care Ethics approach. In the third part, this approach is applied to care for the elderly.

HCE 645: Comparative Religious Bioethics
Offered Fall only, even years by Dr. Joris Gielen

This course follows a seminar format which after an introductory lecture in the first session devotes most of class time to presentations by students, group discussion and development of the research essay. Through their own research and the critical input of other students the students become aware of structural differences between religions in the field of bioethics. Moreover, the students become particularly familiar with bioethics in one religion (Hinduism, Buddhism or Islam).

HCE 648: Clinical Ethics
Offered Spring only, even years by Dr. Joris Gielen

In this course students will be specifically trained in case analysis, scientific presentation and reporting in the field of clinical ethics. The course consists of three parts. In the first part, we undertake a general exploration of the aims of clinical ethics and the place of clinical ethics consultations therein. In the second part, we look at approaches to ethical analysis in case consultation. The students gain insight into the merits of these approaches and learn to apply them to clinical cases. In the third part, we focus on an issue that is central in clinical ethics: decision making. We study the standard of informed consent, and decision making for mentally incapacitated patients and patients who are unable to communicate.

HCE 650: Beginning of Life Ethics
Offered Spring only, even years by Fr./Dr. Peter Osuji

This course will familiarize students to the ethics of reproductive medicine and beginning-of-life issues such as contraception, male womb, surrogacy/outsourcing parenting, artificial reproductive technologies, human cloning, animal-human hybrids, morality of abortion, the moral status of the human embryo, and fetal tissue transplants. The course will look at the various ethical controversies surrounding the definitions of life and of humanity, procreative rights.

HCE 653: Genetics and Ethics
Offered Spring only, even years by Dr. Gerard Magill

The course discusses ethical issues related to emerging trends in human genetics and stem cell research. Topics include: the development of ethics discourse on the human genome; ethics and technology; Consent and Genetics Counseling; Stem Cell Research and Cloning; Germline Modification; Genetics, Disability, and the Vulnerable; Population Screening, including Newborns; Individuals Screening and Tests; Neuro-ethics and Nano-ethics; Patents, Biobanking, and Business. This course is presented in seminar format that dedicates most of class time to conference-style presentation and discussion of the assigned readings as well as to the development and presentation of course research essays. The goal is to provide a systematic overview of major topics in the field to inspire excellence in student conference style presentations and essay research writing.

HCE 654: Research Ethics
Offered Fall only, odd years by Dr. Joris Gielen

The course will familiarize students with the recent issues and debates in research ethics. It will start with an introduction in empirical research in bioethics. This empirical basis will serve as an example from which research ethics will be explored. The course will analyze the various ethical dimensions of different types of research in the field of healthcare, in particular informed consent, risk-benefit assessment, ethical review, and research with special populations. It then offers the opportunity to study in more details subjects as international research, research with children, animal research, ethics review committees, and research integrity.

HCE 655: Global Bioethics
Offered Fall only, even years by Fr./Dr. Peter Osuji

This course focuses on the globalization of bioethics. It addresses the question of universal ethical principles in connection to cultural diversity. Current problems will be discussed, e.g. international clinical trials, benefit sharing, organ trafficking, social responsibility for health, globalised food and culture.

HCE 656: End of Life Ethics
Offered Spring only, odd years by Dr. Joris Gielen

Ethical issues related to the end of life are the main focus of this course. Starting from an analysis of the major moral traditions (Hippocratic tradition, sanctity of life tradition and Enlightenment tradition) as well as the philosophical debate on the goals of health care, specific ethical problems will be analyzed: suffering, death and dying, futility of treatment, withholding and withdrawing treatment, artificial food and nutrition, palliative care, euthanasia, and compassion.

HCE 658: Intensive Research in Healthcare Ethics
Offered Summer only by Dr. Gerard Magill

The course offers an opportunity for students to investigate intensive research topics in healthcare ethics related to their anticipated DHCE Project or PhD Dissertation. The course will guide students from their broad interest in general doctoral topics to the development of a focused research thesis, investigating relevant arguments and literature to support the main components of their subsequent doctoral writing.

HCE 659: Methods in Healthcare Ethics
Offered Fall only by Dr. Gerard Magill

This course provides a foundational introduction to other degree courses in the healthcare ethics curriculum. The course presents an historical and systematic analysis of theoretical approaches to healthcare ethics as well as a study of practical issues. A general ethical typology presents knowledge of the vocabulary and methods in the field. Practical issues are discussed to illustrate the theoretical questions.

HCE 660: Research Writing in Healthcare Ethics
Offered Summer only by Dr. Gerard Magill

The course will engage HCE students in high quality research writing that facilitates writing course research essays and prepares for the DHCE Project and PhD Dissertation (referred to as "dissertation"). A variety of techniques are explored to integrate the related components of research and writing in a course essay or in dissertation chapters. This course also explains the potential integration between course research essays and the dissertation.

HCE 662: Organizational Ethics in Healthcare
Offered Spring only, odd years by Dr. Gerard Magill

The course examines the role of organizational ethics in health care. Business ethics and corporate ethics (with accompanying topics of risk management, compliance, and quality improvement) are included within the description of organizational ethics. The analysis focuses on the integration of clinical, professional, and organizational ethics in health care to foster culturally competent patient-centered care. The study considers relevant standards in the field, such as the Joint Commission’s accreditation standards for hospitals. The concerns that are discussed vary from theoretical issues, relevant principles, and practical topics.

HCE 690: Independent Study
Offered Spring and Fall by Faculty

This course provides an opportunity to do independent reading and research under the supervision of a faculty member with approval of the Director.

HCE 701: Dissertation Hours
Offered Spring and Fall by Faculty

Clinical Ethics Rotations

Please visit our updated Clinical Ethics Rotations page for course descriptions & syllabi.

Other Courses Typically Adopted in the Healthcare Ethics Curriculum

HCE 542: Foundations of Moral Philosophy

There are many different ways of theorizing about moral philosophy and each has its advantages and disadvantages. This course evaluates the advantages and disadvantages of each of these systems of moral philosophy.

HCE 544: Foundations of Religious Healthcare Ethics

The course provides an introduction to the methods of religious discourse in health care ethics. There is discussion of different approaches, policies, teachings, and practices. And a variety of practical topics are engaged to illustrate the variety of religious discourse in the field.

HCE 652: Justice in Health Care Delivery

An examination of religious, philosophical, and policy perspectives on theoretical understandings of justice and on practical issues involving the allocation and delivery of health case, such as access to health care, health care reform, rationing, and managed care.

HCE 580: Healthcare Law & Ethics See, HLTM 577: Legal Issues in Health Care

This course educates students intending to embark on a health-care related career on a wide-range of legal issues in the context of the health care industry. Topics will include practitioner licensing, HIPAA, professional liability lawsuits, and a general overview of the court system. The course also covers current relevant issues before the courts, particularly with regard to Pennsylvania law, such as tort reform, peer review privilege, and arbitration agreements in healthcare-related cases.