The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) recently released Bioethics for Every Generation: Deliberation and Education in Health, Science, and Technology . In Bioethics for Every Generation, the Bioethics Commission addresses how bioethics education and democratic deliberation are mutually reinforcing functions that create a virtuous circle that leads to productive civic engagement.
Educators and policymakers should implement bioethics education and deliberative activities to promote values essential to an engaged and civic-minded population. Through its focus on engagement with values and analytical reasoning, ethics education prepares members of communities to discuss not only their individual perspectives and values, but also those of others in the community. In turn, engagement with topics and issues that affect a community can lead to a better understanding of our own values. Civic involvement helps us focus on the kinds of communities we want to create, and on our own ability to contribute through collaborative problem solving. Ethics education and democratic deliberation are mutually reinforcing—in other words, ethics education prepares us to deliberate, and deliberation helps us clarify values and develop a way forward. In this report, the Bioethics Commission recommends that educators and organizers of deliberative activities use deliberation and education when engaging with the ethical dimensions of developments in health, science, and technology.
The Bioethics Commission outlines several examples of how deliberation can enhance education, including various deliberative classroom activities. Additionally, the Commission highlights the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl, which teaches college students how to engage in ethical reasoning by deliberating in teams about specific cases, including topics in bioethics.
The Bioethics Commission also addresses the important role bioethics advisory commissions play in supporting public bioethics education and engaging in deliberation. Specifically, the Bioethics Commission recommends that future bodies continue to explore, reimagine, and reinvigorate their role in education and democracy, and that they encourage discourse and civic involvement in developing health, science, and technology policy.
This Bioethics Commission has implemented deliberative practices, and made significant contributions to bioethics education, including the development of educational tools that range in scope and format, are intended for many audiences, and are available for free on Bioethics.gov .