Undergraduate Minor in Bioethics and Medical Humanities (BMH)
The intercollege Bioethics Program provides undergraduate students with an interdisciplinary and flexible opportunity to explore the field through the Minor in Bioethics and Medical Humanities.
Grappling with the 'Big Questions'
Should we use medical science to produce “designer children” or to enhance our mental and physical performance?
Where does therapy end and enhancement begin?
Do we have the right to choose the time and means of death—and should health professionals be permitted to actively assist us?
Do we have a right to health care, and what does that mean for health care rationing?
What demands does social justice make on public health, and how does discrimination undermine both individual and public health?
What do we owe populations in low- and middle-income countries, particularly when we rely on them as research participants for new drug development?
Does corporate funding of health research imperil research integrity and public trust?
What are the implications of recent developments in medicine and AI for “cognitive liberty” and “genetic privacy”?
These are just some of the essential questions that bioethics—a relatively new and fast-growing discipline—seeks to answer. Students enrolled in the Bioethics and Medical Humanities (BMH) Minor have the opportunity to probe these—and many other—pressing issues, drawing on recent scholarship from a wide range of disciplines, including: philosophy, medicine, law, psychology, sociology, anthropology, public policy, art and literature, international affairs, and environmental studies.
BMH Minor Requirements
Students must take 18 approved course credits. The curriculum begins with a mandatory introductory course covering basic bioethics concepts (BIOET 100/PHIL 132). Subsequent classes are selected from this list of relevant offerings. Students may petition for class substitutions. Permission for substitutions depend on the student’s other course work, as well as the nature of the requested course. The BMH Minor culminates with a required capstone (BMH 490), which involves original student research.
Skills Building and Professional Preparation
While the BMH Minor is beneficial to students in almost any major, it offers particular value to students planning to attend medical, dental, veterinary, or law school, as well as to students pursuing careers in health care, life sciences, public policy, humanities, informatics, or forensics. The knowledge and skills developed through the BMH Minor provide students with the tools they need to help tackle the major challenges facing society in the areas of medicine, public health, nutrition, and the environment—among many others. Moreover, BMH Minor graduates leave Penn State better prepared to engage as global citizens in a world that urgently needs talented stewards.
If you have additional questions about the BMH Minor, please contact:
For advisement questions:
For course-scheduling questions:
Students may also add the BMH Minor on LionPath. Refer to the LionPath tutorial on “Using Update Academics” for instructions.