The demand for bioethics could not be clearer during these pandemic days. This is true regardless of whether one is engaged in health professions, science, social science, art, humanities, or other areas of focus.
The faculty and administration at Penn State’s Berks Campus have recognized and embraced this and then worked to bring the Bioethics and Medical Humanities (BMH) Minor to their students.
“This program offers a remarkable opportunity to enhance the degrees of students in all of our divisions. I could not hide my excitement when our partnership with the intercollege Penn State Bioethics Program came together. I look forward to working with faculty and students in Humanities Arts & Social Science (HASS), Engineering, Business, and Computing (EBC) and Science to grow this minor here at Penn State Berks,” said Kesha Morant Williams, associate professor of Communication Arts & Sciences, and Bioethics and Medical Humanities Penn State Berks Minor Coordinator.
The flexible, 18-credit-hour minor includes, among other things, an introductory bioethics course, an upper-level ethics course, and a capstone. It is a perfect match for students on the pre-medicine or pre-health professional track, pre-law track, or pre-veterinary track, as well as those in social sciences, information technology, engineering, art, or humanities.
“This is a program we were eager to offer because of its relevance and interdisciplinary approach. And because we wanted to give students the opportunity to critically engage in key questions related to bioethics and other current and future issues in our life and society,” said Belén Rodríguez Mourelo, head of the division of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences at Penn State Berks Campus.
In collaboration with colleagues in the intercollege Penn State Bioethics Program, based at University Park, and support from Berks Campus administration and faculty, the BMH Minor is now available to Berks students. In fact, the first student has already been enrolled at Berks and is already nearing completion of the minor.
“I chose the Bioethics and Medical Humanities Minor because it has given me optimism and preparedness when navigating the complexity of health and wellness in our world. This minor provides me with knowledge about personal and public health; and I’ve also gained skills to help reduce and eliminate health disparities. This minor helped me understand the social and environmental factors that play such an important role in health. As I near graduation, I believe I am better prepared to engage in conversations about health in meaningful and life-enhancing ways,” said Emma Peoples, a Penn State Berks Communication Arts & Sciences Program major and BMH minor student.
Upon graduation, students with the BMH minor regularly go on to professional degree programs and esteemed post-baccalaureate fellowships.
“It’s so exciting to see the need for bioethics recognized and to work with extraordinary colleagues from across Penn State to bring this offering to students,” said Michele Mekel, interim director of the Bioethics Program. “In addition to a grounding in a field applicable to both work and life, students in the BMH Minor also get the mentorship and nurturing typically associated a small college while enjoying all the benefits of a big university.”
The BMH Minor is also available at the University Park Campus and the Abington Campus, and it is currently in development at other Commonwealth campuses.
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