For more information about the BMH Minor, please contact:

Elizabeth A. Brown
Academic Advisor for Bioethics
127 Burrowes Building
Department of English
Penn State University
Email : eaf4@psu.edu
Office Phone : (814) 863-8559


For undergraduate and course scheduling support, please contact:

Claudia G. Horner
Graduate Program Assistant
Department of Philosophy
Pennsylvania State University
234 Sparks Building
University Park, PA  16802
Email: cgh12@psu.edu

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 a right to choose the time and means of our own death—and should medical personnel be permitted to assist us? Can we have a meaningful discussion about physician-assisted suicide in a country without universal access to health care? Do we have a right to health care and what does this mean for health care rationing? What demands does social justice make on public health, and what challenges does discrimination pose—whether on the grounds of race, gender, sexual orientation or disability? What do we owe the developing world, particularly when we rely on its population as research subjects for the development of new drugs? How can we ensure that academic research is truly independent when it’s funded by pharmaceutical companies or others in the private sector? What role should religion play in debates about stem cells, abortion and end of life issues? What are the implications of recent developments in medical science for “cognitive liberty” and “genetic privacy”?

These are just some of the questions that bioethics—a relatively new and fast-growing discipline—seeks to ask and answer. Students taking the Bioethics and
Medical Humanities (BMH) minor will have the opportunity to probe these questions, drawing on literature and on recent scholarship from a wide range of disciplines (including philosophy, medicine, law, psychology, sociology, anthropology, public policy, international studies and environmental studies).

Students electing the BMH minor are required to have a basic background of biology coursework, and will take a curriculum that includes 18 credit hours, beginning with an introductory course on basic ideas and concepts in bioethics, followed by a choice of other relevant bioethics and humanities courses, and capped with an integrative course involving original research by the student. The minor will be suitable for students in almost any major, especially students going on to further academic work or careers in medicine, law, the health or life sciences, health policy and administration, informatics or forensics.