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February 11, 2002

Campus community welcome to hear speakers in new course on bioethics

Chancellor Greenwood to speak Feb. 12 at class jointly offered by Chemistry, Philosophy Departments

By Ann M. Gibb

Chancellor M.R.C. Greenwood will speak on "How is Science Policy Set?: Government Regulatory Agencies" on Tuesday, February 12, at 4 p.m. in Classroom Unit 1. Her talk is one in a series of guest lectures in Bioethics in the 21st Century: Science, Business, and Society, a new course jointly offered by the Chemistry and Philosophy Departments. All Tuesday lectures in the class are open to the public at no charge.

The implications of cloning, as with Dolly the sheep, are among issues covered in a new course on bioethics. Photo: BBC News
Cotaught by David Deamer, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and Ellen Suckiel, professor of philosophy, Bioethics in the 21st Century: Science, Business, and Society explores major ethical issues arising from research in genetics, medicine, and the industries supported by this knowledge.

"In order to think deeply about these matters and be prepared to deal with the difficult moral questions which arise, one needs to understand both the empirical observations from the natural sciences and the ethical theories from philosophy. So we're presenting and integrating both sides for the students," Suckiel explains.

Guest lecturers from science and industry give students a real-world perspective on the moral issues involved in applying research to practice. During the quarter each student has the opportunity to be a panelist within the course. Following the guest lecture and in consultation with Deamer and Suckiel, the student panelists generate topics for class discussion each Thursday.

Offered for the first time this quarter, Bioethics in the 21st Century: Science, Business, and Society is proving successful with the students, instructors, and guest speakers. Enrollment is strong and class discussions are lively. "It's been enlightening for both the science and humanities majors to have the ethical implications of genomics and biotechnology discussed, and Ellen and I are learning a lot as well," said Deamer. The class will be offered again in winter quarter 2003.

Upcoming speakers include Jay Ogilvy, president, General Business Networks, Berkeley (February 19), and Brent Constantz (Ph.D., Earth sciences, 1984), of Corazon Inc., Menlo Park (February 26). More information about the class and a complete list of guest speakers is available online.

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