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The Bioethics Project: A Research Program for High School Students

Principal Investigators: Josephine Johnston, The Hastings Center; Karen Rezach, Ethics Institute at Kent Place School
Funder: Anonymous donor

The Hastings Center and the Ethics Institute at Kent Place School have developed a program in which high school students investigate a contemporary bioethics issue using a modified version of The Hastings Center’s research methodology.

As a field, bioethics provides emotionally charged, complex, and vexing ethical problems that have relevance to the lives and futures of middle and high school students. Investigation of a difficult bioethics issue provides students with a rich opportunity to engage in interdisciplinary learning about complex contemporary problems. Because these issues are contentious, it can be difficult for students and teachers to broach them in the classroom. In this program, students undertake a rigorous research process to understand the complexities and nuances of a contemporary bioethics issue.

The program has two components: (1) The Bioethics Experience–an intensive summer program in which students are introduced to bioethics and begin to investigate a contemporary bioethics debate and (2) The Bioethics Project–students select a component of the debate to research in detail during the semester. The research culminates in publication of individual essays on a project website as well as a student-led community symposium to present research findings to families and peers.

Examples of websites created by student groups can be found here.