Bioethics Matures: The Field Faces the Future

The Hastings Center Report , Vol. 35, No. 4, pp. 6-8, 2005

3 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2011

See all articles by Susan M. Wolf

Susan M. Wolf

University of Minnesota Law School

Jeffrey P. Kahn

Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics

Date Written: July 1, 2005


Modern bioethics is now approaching the forty-year mark. Bioethics centers and programs have proliferated in universities around the country. Yet as these programs are becoming more established, seeking to tenure their faculty, to graduate students, and to secure their funding, a set of questions and concerns is arising that all of them share. Has the field of bioethics matured to the point that centers and programs should become academic departments? Should they grant tenure in bioethics, or instead provide a home for faculty tenured in traditional disciplines - law, medicine, and philosophy, for example? Should more universities offer master's degrees and doctorates in bioethics? How secure is the future of bioethics within the academy anyway?

To address these issues, the University of Minnesota's Center for Bioethics and Consortium on Law and Values in Health, Environment & the Life Sciences convened a meeting in Minneapolis for the directors of approximately fifty major bioethics centers and programs around the country, as well as several in Canada. Sixteen bioethics programs cosponsored the meeting (from Case Western Reserve University, University of Chicago, Georgetown University, The Hastings Center, Johns Hopkins University, University of Louisville, Loyola University Chicago, Medical College of Wisconsin, Michigan State University, Northwestern University, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Tuskegee University, University of Virginia, and University of Washington). This article reviews the focal questions, provisional answers, and next steps identified at this meeting.

The meeting was funded by The Greenwall Foundation and the University of Minnesota's Consortium. This work helped catalyze creation of the Association of Bioethics Program Directors (ABPD).

Keywords: Bioethics, bioethics programs, bioethics centers, academic bioethics, university bioethics, Association of Bioethics Program Directors, ABPD

Suggested Citation

Wolf, Susan M. and Kahn, Jeffrey P., Bioethics Matures: The Field Faces the Future (July 1, 2005). The Hastings Center Report , Vol. 35, No. 4, pp. 6-8, 2005, Available at SSRN:

Susan M. Wolf (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota Law School ( email )

229 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States
612-625-3406 (Phone)
612-624-9143 (Fax)


Jeffrey P. Kahn

Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics ( email )

1809 Ashland Ave
Baltimore, MD 21205
United States
410-614-5679 (Phone)

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