Author: April 5, 2018
Ethics is a musty-sounding word, often redolent of ancient Greek and Latin, civics classrooms, and philosophers from the distant past. Yet as a concept, it permeates our society and is found throughout university environments everywhere. Here at our University we have Ethics & Compliance, Research Ethics, Code of Ethics, Responsible Conduct of Research and Ethical Teaching, the Center for Bioethics, etc. And yet, ethics itself remains neatly sectioned off, isolated in its silo. For some people, ethics is just part of a bureaucratic checklist, one way to avoid a lawsuit, and a slightly remote, almost distasteful, obstacle to the ambitions of promotion, tenure, and power.
I invite you to consider the bold empowerment of ethics as an integral part of our lives. Ethics can simplify and inform so many things if we bring it to the center of our awareness. In our professional lives, ethics demands that we have expanded consciousness, that we behave and make decisions every day in line with what we know to be right—as an individual and as a society—and that we hold the shared values of the University as a core value to inform our behavior. From this perspective, ethics informs our research, clinical practice, teaching, and administrative roles. It compels us to do the right thing, not just for ourselves, but for the University, our patients, our families, our communities, and the world.
In our current times, living our ethics isn’t easy. They clash with the market pressures and economic strains of healthcare system negotiations, state budget shortfalls, competitive insurance, and the demands of the private biomedical sector. Even identifying common beliefs and values becomes arduous given the (predictably) constantly changing demographics and zeitgeist of our world.
We need a resource that:
- Fosters vigorous discussion of the essential questions of how we behave ethically as individuals and an institution, and how we make virtue sustainable both economically and personally.
- Cultivates a leadership that is inclusive of varied views, open to contrarian positions, advances inclusivity and equality, and is committed to being a place for intelligent discourse (a platform that only the University can accommodate, and frankly is called on to develop in the current, complex society).
- Prepares and inspires the next generation of health and ethics professionals with a strong foundation from which to address the increasingly complex ethical issues faced by health care and society.
- Designs, and delivers trusted resources for researchers, healthcare providers, educators, and students; engages as a collaborative partner in designing research studies and clinical trials.
The AHC Center for Bioethics has seen significant changes in leadership, focus, and membership since its creation. It has a strong history, but is in need of a new design to meet our needs of today and tomorrow. I am looking to the members of the AHC community for guidance on what you need from the next iteration of the Center for Bioethics and how its success—in scholarship, education, service, and relevance to the community—should be evaluated going forward.
Ethics demands that we have expanded consciousness, that we behave and make decisions every day in line with what we know to be right—as an individual and as a society—and that we hold the shared values of the University as a core value to inform our behavior.