PRESS RELEASE: 12.06.11 Hastings Center, Kent Place School Embark on Pioneering High School Bioethics Program

(Garrison, NY ) The Hastings Center and the Ethics Institute at Kent Place School are joining forces on a pilot project in which a group of high school students will engage in a dynamic, in-depth exploration of the use of medicine for human enhancement, a major topic in bioethics.

Selected students from Kent Place School, an independent girls school in Summit, N.J., will research this controversial topic using a modified version of The Hastings Center’s research methodology, which involves bringing together a diverse group of people with a range of perspectives for a careful and respectful investigation of a multifaceted dilemma in bioethics.“My colleagues and I are regularly amazed by how much can be learned about a difficult bioethics issue by inviting people with a multitude of perspectives to the table to engage in respectful and rigorous discussion and debate,” says Josephine Johnston, a codirector of the project and a research scholar at The Hastings Center. “We are excited to work with students and teachers from Kent Place School in modifying our basic approach for the high school setting.”

For the pilot project, Kent Place students will research cases related to human enhancement under the mentorship of Hastings Center scholars. Students will present and discuss topics such as cosmetic surgery and performance-enhancing drugs. The results of the project will be presented to parents and community members at a public forum and published on a public Web site.

“Without a doubt, the Hastings Center-Kent Place School project is an exciting opportunity for members of our entire school community,” says Karen Rezach, a codirector of the project and director of both the Ethics Institute and of the Middle School at Kent Place. “Our students will be afforded the chance to work one-on-one with some of the finest bioethical research scholars in the world, further develop their ability to articulate a position on a complex issue, and respectfully appreciate the differing points of view of their project colleagues. The greater community will be exposed to biomedical ethics and given the opportunity to broaden their knowledge and perspectives on issues that are most relevant to life in the 21st century.”

In addition to providing an intellectually rich and stimulating learning experience for a group of Kent Place School students, the project will explore how The Hastings Center’s methodology can be applied more generally as an educational tool in high schools. Using what they learn in this pilot project, Hastings and the Ethics Institute aim to create resources that would allow teachers and students in the United States and elsewhere to use this methodology to investigate a series of bioethics issues.

The Hastings Centeris an independent bioethics research institute founded in 1969 to address ethical, legal, and policy issues in medicine, health, and the life sciences. Much of the Center’s research is in three broad areas: care and decision making at the end of life, public health priorities, and new and emerging technologies.

The Ethics Institute at Kent Place School,founded in 2007, fosters the study of ethics and ethical decision-making in primary and secondary school communities and provides ethics resources and programs to Kent Place constituents, independent schools, private schools, public schools and the greater community.

Contact: Michael Turton, Communications Associate
845 424 4040 ext. 242