bioethics classroom

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  • 1. Lincoln, February 2008 Tackling bioethics in the classroom some practical ideas Dr Chris Willmott Dept of Biochemistry University of Leicester [email protected] University of Leicester
  • 2. Ethics in the classroom Growing importance of (bio)ethics in school curriculum Salters-Nuffield Advanced Biology New AS/A levels from September 2008 Perspectives on Science AS level New GCSEs since September 2006 Citizenship education
  • 3. Bioethics = Bio AND Ethics! Science COULD it be done? Ethics SHOULD it be done? Important that both are being considered: Science without ethics may be immoral Ethics without science may be impossible
  • 4. Ethics - concerns e.g. (regarding Ethics dimension of SNAB A level) Its quite a challenging role for a teacher, I think. If youve not got the in depth understanding of a lot of the ethics which goes behind it it is quite unnerving some of the questions that students can ask you it sort of undermines your authority sometimes Anonymous teacher quoted by Lewis (Jnl Biol Edn 40:101-106, 2006)
  • 5. Approaches Case studies/ scenarios Debate and role-play Newspapers Book extracts Guest lectures TV programmes Structured activity based on news footage Clips from other programmes Knowing whats on and when
  • 6. Approaches Case studies/ scenarios TV programmes Structured activity based on news footage Clips from other programmes Knowing whats on and when
  • 7. Case studies & scenarios Case studies allow real-world framing of otherwise abstract ideas As such, can have a key role in opening up complex issues for students May be genuine or fictional (though latter work best when as close to real as possible)
  • 8. Case study Carl and Julie Carl is a twenty-one year old builder. He is engaged to Julie, and she has recently discovered that she is expecting their first child. In 2001, Carls maternal grandfather died from Huntingtons disease (HD), a late-onset degenerative disease of the nervous system. HD is inherited in a dominant fashion; if you do have HD, you have a 50% chance of passing it on to your children. Carls mum has decided not to take the test to find out if she got the faulty copy from her father, but now that he is expecting to be a father himself, Carl is keen to find out if there is any risk that he has passed on the condition. What are some of the issues at stake for Carl and Julie? What are the consequences of taking the test, or deciding not to? If you were Carl, what would you do?
  • 9. Genetic screening Carl can know his status and prepare accordingly But his mum has made a conscious decision not to know, hence potential harm to her Other consequences: - Carls relationship with Julie? - Carls relationship with baby? - Implications for Carls work? - Insurance implications, etc (Developed from episode of Bitter Inheritance)
  • 10. TV footage why? Familiar visual medium Can be used to: - convey information - as discussion starters Clips save time over full programme
  • 11. What sort of programmes? Documentaries, e.g. - A child against all odds (2006) - Whos afraid of designer babies? (2005) - The dark secret of Hendrik Schn (2004) Drama e.g. - Holby city (various, esp 2006) - The Simpsons (e.g. Trash of the titans, 1998) - Million dollar baby (2004) News clips - topical - pithy summary
  • 12. Example 1: scene setter South Park: Kenny Dies (Paramount Comedy Channel, 16th Jan 2006) This recording is to be used only for educational and non-commercial purposes under the terms of the ERA Licence
  • 13. Example 2: structured news Therapeutic Cloning You are going to see a 3 minute video from Five News on June 16th 2004, discussing an application by a team of scientists at Newcastle University for permission to carry out therapeutic cloning. Read through these questions before you see the clip, so you know what to look out for. From the video Explain how therapeutic cloning would work What is the source of the eggs to be used in this research? What is the stated aim of the research? Thinking deeper In the clip, Professor Murdoch says: Imagine a child, say a ten year old child, now who is diabetic whos cells that normally produce insulin are not working properly, so that child will have to take insulin injections for the rest of their life. Possibly, in five or ten years time, we could be in a situation where we could take a tiny piece of skin from that child, do some work within the laboratory to tell that skin cell to forget that it was ever a skin cell, to learn to become a stem cell, which means that it has no background information about what it is going to be, and then teach that stem cell to become an insulin secreting cell so that cell can be planted back into the child and then the diabetes theoretically would be cured. Compare this with the explanation of how therapeutic cloning would work; - in what ways was it different, and - in what ways was it the same? What objections to stem cell research are mentioned in the video? What other reasons (not mentioned) may cause people to object to therapeutic cloning? What technical difficulties might make this work difficult to achieve?
  • 14. Example 2: structured news Five News Five, June 16th 2004 This recording is to be used only for educational and non-commercial purposes under the terms of the ERA Licence
  • 15. Example 3: technical information A Child Against All Odds BBC1, November 14th 2006 This recording is to be used only for educational and non-commercial purposes under the terms of the ERA Licence
  • 16. Example 4: discussion starter GATTACA Channel 4, September 4th 2005 This recording is to be used only for educational and non-commercial purposes under the terms of the ERA Licence
  • 17. GATTACA questions to consider GATTACA (Dir: Andrew Niccol, 1997) is set in the not too distant future. Having watched the clip, consider the following questions: 1. How realistic is the genetic screening process shown in the film? Which aspects can already be done? Which are likely to be more difficult? 2. Screening of this type would be controversial. What are some of the potential benefits, and what are some of the potential problems? 3. Consider your answers to Q2. What form of ethical thinking does each represent? 4. Does this film offer any insights into current development in genetic screening?
  • 18. GATTACA Science issues Technology shown could offer selection, not enhancement gene can only be included if mum or dad had it! Current PGD? Future PGD? Genetic determinism? How much of us as individuals is down to our genes and how much down to other factors (food intake, trauma, etc)?
  • 19. GATTACA Ethical issues Genetic discrimination Valids v In-valids? A made-man v a faith-birth? A vitro v a utero? Insurance moratorium in UK (until 2011). Risk and social exclusion? What would it be suitable to check for? Diseases? Gender? Physical features? Character traits? What costs to the individual and to society are worth paying in order to select-out diseases? What do such attitudes say about people with disabilities now? Role of genetics in forensics?
  • 20. Knowing whats on and when For scheduled programmes: Radio Times, etc www.trilt.ac.uk Television and Radio Index for Learning and Teaching
  • 21. Knowing whats on and when For scheduled programmes: Radio Times, etc www.trilt.ac.uk Television and Radio Index for Learning and Teaching Need to be member of BUFVC to use TRILT (cost for Schools = 375 per annum) www.tvgenius.co.uk But, news isnt known in advance! Today programme (Radio 4) BBC website, esp. Health and Science/Nature sub-sections
  • 22. Getting hold of programmes & clips Off-Air Recordings - recorded at time of transmission - requires Educational Recording Agency licence Back-up www.bufvc.ac.uk/services/offair.html British Universities Film & Video Council Increasing availability of streamed news clips, esp. on the BBC website, but shortly also on the Newsfilm online site (http://newsfilm.bufvc.ac.uk) Legitimate and unlicensed use of programmes on YouTube, Google Video etc
  • 23. Helpful websites e.g. www.bioscience.heacademy.ac.uk/resources/ethicsbrief.htm Bioethics Briefings Six titles and others to follow
  • 24. Helpful websites e.g. www.beep.ac.uk
  • 25. Helpful websites e.g. www.at-bristol.org.uk/cz/Default.htm
  • 26. Helpful websites: BioethicsBytes e.g. www.bioethicsbytes.wordpress.com
  • 27. BioethicsBytes: Drama
  • 28. BioethicsBytes: Extended Comm.
  • 29. BioethicsBytes: Streamed News
  • 30. Acknowledgements Bonnie Green and David Willis GENIE (the Genetics Education CETL) and the National Teaching Fellowship Scheme Audio-Visual Services, UoL www.bioethicsbytes.wordpress.com del.icio.us/chriswillmott/bioethics