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Speaker: Amy Brown, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Bioethics and Humanities, SUNY Upstate Medical University (our 2017 visiting Andrew Markus Scholar)

Abstract:  Bioethics education is an essential component of health professions training, and the principle of justice is fundamental to both clinical and research ethics. Nascent healthcare providers are taught that they have a moral obligation to provide optimal care to all patients, regardless of individual, sociocultural and economic characteristics. Increasingly, trainees in healthcare are taught that justice cannot be achieved simply by treating all patients equally, but that it requires treating patients as individuals in the context of their culture, community, and socioeconomic resources, and that this, in turn, requires special and sometimes greater efforts on the part of some patients than others. This is one version of equity in healthcare. However, students do not enter health professions training as blank slates. Their personal identities and sense of a moral self exist, though still formative, especially for younger trainees. There is an important intuitive distinction between social justice and fairness, and some programs and policies motivated by social justice (e.g., affirmative action) are attempts to correct previous unfairness to one group via actions that now appear unfair to another. The question then arises: what happens when students’ pre-existing values and beliefs, shaped by their lived experience, conflicts with contemporary notions of what a “good physician” or “good nurse” is and does?

In this talk, I will explore the applications of moral foundation theory to bioethics education and to healthcare practice and discuss some of the challenges of teaching social justice as a part of medical education in the context of the current political climate in the United States.

Bookings: If you would like to come to this seminar, please email

Forthcoming events

Methodological Issues in Nutritional Epidemiology and the Assessment of Preventable Mortality

Tuesday, 17 September 2019, 2pm to 3pm @ Richard Doll Lecture Theatre, Richard Doll Building, Old Road Campus, OX3 7LF

Mini-Symposium: Large prospective studies of diet and health: research in the Nuffield Department of Population Health

Tuesday, 17 September 2019, 3.30pm to 5pm @ Richard Doll Lecture Theatre, Richard Doll Building, Old Road Campus, OX3 7LF

Ethox/WEH Seminar - Newborn Screening for Sickle Cell Disease in Tanzania: Understanding ethical, social and resource based implications

Wednesday, 18 September 2019, 11am to 12.30pm @ Seminar room 0, BDI, Old Road Campus, OX3 7LF

Oxford-Peking University Joint Symposium on Precision Medicine

Thursday, 19 September 2019, 10am to 6pm @ Seminar rooms, BDI, Old Road Campus, OX3 7LF

CKB Workshop - Infections, immunity and cancer: aetiology and beyond

Friday, 20 September 2019, 1pm to 5pm @ Seminar rooms, BDI, Old Road Campus, OX3 7LF