Living with Moral and Ethical Uncertainty:

Bioethics - Is it the Answer?

Carol Pollard-Levy
Science / Health & Fitness

Course Description

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to reduce the stresses in your life and not be buffeted and perplexed by many of the daily concerns we face? Want to learn some effective tools to enhance your moral and ethical decision-making? Come find out about bioethics! Bioethics concerns itself with what it means to be human and what exactly are our rights and responsibilities to ourselves and other living beings who inhabit Planet Earth. The questions that will be discussed concern:  the preservation and enhancement of human life along with appropriate respect for all things in nature; careful assessment of the benefits and dangers in advancing knowledge and possibilities for action; and requirements of responsible and fair decision-making regarding the needs and goods of the human community and the world environment. Case studies will be examined and used to enhance discussion.


1. Ways to think critically about bioethics using the following approaches: The Principles; Casuistry; the Bio-Psycho-Social Model; Feminist Ethics; Virtue Ethics; and more. 
2. Ways to think critically about bioethics with focus on case studies.
3. End-of Life Issues: Palliative Care; Grief; Life Extension; The Caregiver's Role;  Physician Assisted Suicide.
4. Perspectives on Aging: Use of poetry and guided discussion to focus on "wisdom," "sadness," the richness of the "older life," empathy and respect for the disabled, and what, if anything, we owe our aging parents and relatives.
5. Global Health: Focus on women's and children's health and education as a way to lift societal burdens; war, poverty, and epidemics; the many forms of Medical Tourism; financial burdens or benefits; and ethical “judgment calls.” 
6. Mental Health: What is “normal” and its meaning in context of society and for the individual; creativity; bias by medical personnel and others; gender issues; role of emotional intelligence; “Affluenza” as a legal defense; DSM-5; talk therapy vs. “the pill.” 
7. Environmental/Animal Ethics: What is the "environment" and who, or what, is worthy of moral consideration; human-centered or biocentric focus on climate change; welfare and use of animals -  food and in medical experimentation; intrinsic values of all life; the meaning of “personhood” in environmental and animal ethics; the role of religion and politics.
8. Sum it all up! Health and Reverence for Life: Coming to terms with our human-centered needs and wants and what is right for the world.

About the Instructor

  • Carol Pollard-Levy, MA, MSc, MEd, spent ten years working in hospital administration and ten years after that as the founder and executive director of an international human rights organization. The connection between these two areas – healthcare and human rights – became very clear once she discovered the field of bioethics. She is one of the founding members and associate director of Yale University’s Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics and is the immediate past director of Yale University’s Summer Institute in Bioethics ( She has appeared on national and international talk shows, both radio and television, and is a lecturer, writer, and commentator on human rights issues as well as the field of bioethics.