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Bioethics (USAL, CWRU)


 Universidad de Salamanca.

 BETH, 315/415 – 2013


Suzanne Rivera,
Ph.D., M.S.W., Department of
Bioethics, School of Medicine. 216-368-4515

Householder, Ph.D. SAGES, College of Arts and Sciences

Dra. Maria Teresa Lopez de la Vieja, Facultad de Filosofia, Universidad de Salamanca

 Course Description:

Taught by faculty from CWRU and the University of Salamanca, this 3-credit course will introduce undergraduate and graduate students to theoretical and practical aspects of comparative bioethics.

European health professionals and bioethicists work in an environment that differs from the American context in at least three important dimensions: the political structure of their health care systems, the
cultural influence of their religious histories, and the theoretical perspective of continental moral philosophy.  The University of Salamanca, one of the oldest universities in Europe (known as the “Oxford of Spain”), will be our “home base” for examining the interplay of these three dimensions in shaping institutional and professional approaches to specific problems in bioethics, including end of life decisions, organ procurement and allocation, research ethics, and environmental bioethics (“eco-ethics”).

The course will include lectures, writing exercises, guided field experiences, and regular discussion sessions with the course faculty.  Prior to the trip, students will attend four (4) hours of class at CWRU to become familiar with historical, cultural and political influences relevant to the in-country  iscussions.  Following the trip, students will meet with CWRU faculty for an additional two (2) hours to discuss their experiences and synthesize their observations.  

Course Goals:

Through participation in this course, students will be able to:

Compare and contrast approaches to bioethics in the United States and Spain.
Identify major ethical issues raised in the practice of medicine and research.
Analyze the ways in which cultural traditions and national history influence and are affected by science and healthcare technology.

Course Structure:
Two 2-hour seminars conducted by CWRU faculty prior to the trip.
Five days of lectures, site visits, and discussions during the trip.
One 2-hour seminar after the trip, during which students will discuss their observations of similarities and differences in approaches to bioethics issues between the U.S. and Spain.

Course Requirements:

Attendance and active participation in all lectures and activities (at CWRU and in-country).

A brief (no more than three double-spaced, typed pages) “response to the readings” reflection piece on the assigned readings for Session One due at the Session Two class on February 23, 2013.  While in country, a brief writing exercise each classroom day (5 total assignments).

Following the trip, one 5-7 page paper (undergrads) or two 5-7 page papers (grads).  The final papers are due on Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 5:00 p.m., and should be submitted via Blackboard. See below
for description of paper assignment.


Attendance and active participation will constitute 10% of the grade.

The “response to readings” piece will count for 10% of the grade.

The in-country writing exercises will count for 20% of the grade.

The final paper(s) will count for the remaining 60%.

On Campus Sessions:

Session One:  Bioethics in the U.S. and Spain (February 2, 2013 from 12-2)

This session will serve as an introduction to the course.  We will discuss course logistics and review the historical, political and cultural influences on bioethics as an academic discipline in the U.S. and in Spain.

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