Undergraduate Opportunities

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'

How should pandemic planning and response redress structural injustice and promote social change?

Should we use medical science to produce “designer children” or to enhance our mental and physical performance?

diagrams and computer code in front of a double-helix

Where does therapy end and enhancement begin?

Elderly hospital patient being comforted

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?

protesters in front of courthouse

What demands does social justice make on public health, and how does discrimination undermine both individual and public health?

homeless campsite

What do we owe populations in low- and middle-income countries, particularly when we rely on them as research participants for new drug development?

people around a conference table

Does corporate funding of health research imperil research integrity and public trust?

hand outstretched towards technology

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:

  • Interim Director, Bioethics
  • Assistant Teaching Professor, Bioethics
  • Affiliate Faculty, Penn State Law and Rock Ethics Institute
  • Joint Appointment, Department of Humanities, Penn State College of Medicine
Pronouns: She/Her
For advisement questions:

Maddy G. Whittemore

Academic Adviser

202 Pond Laboratory Building
University Park, PA 16802

(814) 865-4597

For course-scheduling questions:

Jill Redman

Administrative Support Coordinator

130 Sparks Building
University Park, PA 16802

(814) 863-8237

For Abington Campus Students:

C. Pierce Salguero

Associate Professor, Asian History and Religious Studies

Penn State Abington


For Berks Campus Students:

Kesha Morant Williams

Associate Professor, Communications Arts & Sciences

Penn State Berks

(610) 396-6218

For more information, please
Download the Bioethics Flyer 

Students may also add the BMH Minor on LionPath.  Refer to the LionPath tutorial on “Using Update Academics” for instructions.