Nancy Berlinger


Senior Research Scholar

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Nancy Berlinger is a senior research scholar at The Hastings Center and a Hastings Center fellow. Her training is in the humanities. Her current scholarship and empirical research focus on ethical, societal, and global dimensions of population aging (Bioethics for Aging Societies), with special attention to dementia care and to housing equity for older adults. She also works on ethical challenges in immigrant and community health, with attention to the role of policy in limiting or expanding health care for these populations. Other areas of longstanding interest include understanding problems of safety and harm in health care systems, and developing guidance for health care practitioners in end-of-life and crisis conditions.

She has a cross-cutting interest in understanding how shared ideas and values (narratives) shape human experiences of flourishing, health, risk, and care, and differing futures for people and places. Her research collaborations often aim to discover how narratives supportive of equity and flourishing for socially marginalized populations can be integrated into public conversations, policy development, and professional work under non-ideal, real-world conditions.

She also directs The Hastings Center’s Sadler Scholars initiative for doctoral students from underrepresented communities, and is an adjunct professor of English at Lehman College, City University of New York (CUNY). She has been an academic writing resident at the Bellagio Center of the Rockefeller Foundation for a book project on migration humanities.

She received her BA in English and history from Smith College, her PhD in English from the University of Glasgow, and an MDiv from Union Theological Seminary, with a concentration in social ethics. She traces her orientation toward real-world, non-ideal problems of equity, health, and flourishing to her first job, in an HIV/AIDS service organization before the advent of effective antiretroviral therapies.

Her research websites and networks include: Bioethics for Aging Societies; Housing, Aging, and Health Research Network; Bioethics in Community Health;
Study to Examine Physicians’ Pandemic Stress (STEPPS); Covid-19 Ethical Framework and Supplements:

See PubMed indexed publications here


 Berlinger N.  Are Workarounds Ethical? Managing Moral Problems in Health Care Systems (Oxford, 2016).

Berlinger N, B Jennings, SM Wolf. The Hastings Center Guidelines for Decisions on Life-Sustaining Treatment and Care Near the End of Life: Revised and Expanded Second Edition (Oxford, 2013 [1987])

Berlinger N.  After Harm: Medical Error and the Ethics of Forgiveness (Johns Hopkins, 2005)

Selected reports and edited volumes

 Molinsky J, N Berlinger, B Hu.  Advancing Housing and Health Equity for Older Adults: Pandemic Innovations and Policy Ideas. Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University and The Hastings Center. October 2022.  Report and Recommendations

Berlinger N, K de Medeiros, MZ Solomon, eds. What Makes a Good Life in Late Life? Citizenship and Justice in Aging Societies. Hastings Center Report 48, no. 5 (2018): SS1-SS84. Report

Chin JJ, N Berlinger, MC Dunn, MK Gusmano, eds. Caring for Older People in an Ageing Society: A Singapore Bioethics Casebook, Volume II National University of Singapore. May 2017.  Full text of both volumes:

Berlinger N, C Calhoon, MK Gusmano, J Vimo. Undocumented Patients and Access to Health Care in New York City: identifying Fair, Effective, and Sustainable Local Policy Solutions: Report to the Office of the Mayor of the City of New York. The Hastings Center and the New York Immigration Coalition. April 2015.  Report and Recommendations

Selected essays and commentaries

Berlinger N. “The Place in ‘Aging in Place’: Housing Equity in Late Life.” Hastings Center Bioethics Forum. September 30, 2022.

Berlinger N. “With No Dementia Cure in Sight, It’s Time for Communities to Become Dementia Friendly.” STAT News. August 14, 2019.

Berlinger N. “More Than Just Sanctuary, Migrants Need Social Citizenship,” Aeon. August 29, 2017.

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