Links for Learning
Curriculum Connections for High School Teachers and Students
This months Links for Learners will support high
school curriculum in:
Christian lifestylesethical decision-making;
critical thinking skills; compassion toward those most vulnerable
Life sciencesissues in developing technology;
biological and medical ethics
Understanding Basic Terms in This Months Article
Look for these key words and terms as you read the article.
Definitions or explanations can be researched from the article
itself, or from the resource materials cited throughout the
Link for Learners.
Is Ethics Important?
A lone research scientist experiments on human subjectsFrankenstein.
More scientists clone ancient dinosaur genesJurassic
Park. A mother chooses to pull the plug on life support
for her comatose daughterSteel Magnolias. Just
of movie themes with bioethical issues.
These issues, and others far more complex, exist because
of dramatic developments in science and technology. With change
questions with ethical implications. Are there justifiable
reasons to withhold life-sustaining treatment from the elderly?
From handicapped babies? Who is eligible for a transplanted
organ? Should a habitual drug user receive priority over a
mother of three children when an organ is available? Who gets
vaccinated first in the event of biological warfare? Can we
use tissue from an aborted fetus to treat currently incurable
For a teen, it may seem that these questions, while interesting,
imply future choices. Why be concerned about them now?
First of all, ethical choices aren't reserved for adults.
Any high school student faces difficult choices. What's wrong
with plagiarizing material from the Internet for my book report?
I need a strong GPA for my college applicationswhy can't I
copy test answers to get better grades? I can lie to my parents
about my drinking, can't I? What they don't know can't hurt
Secondly, your future ethical choices will be shaped by how
you make choices now. It's no secret that many adults cheat
on exams, lie on resumes and alter business data to suit their
own agendas. The odds are that these adults developed the
habit in high school and college.
Another consideration: Some teens are already researching
and indeed creating original work in this field. For example,
the annual Siemens
Westinghouse Competition in Math, Science and Technology
presents scholarships to teens who have done exceptional research.
In 2002 two teens from William L. Dickinson High School in
Jersey City, New Jersey, won the top prize in the team category
for their genetic research project. Juliet Girard and Roshan
Prabhu identified genes that contribute to early flowering
time in rice, a discovery that could contribute to increased
crop production for hungry populations.
Critical Thinking Skills
What differentiates a morally mature person from a habitual
cheater? Ethics. Ethics is something like a lens through which
we view the world.
According to the Josephson
Institute of Ethics, ethics centers on "principles
that define behavior as right, good and proper." The
Institute provides online at no cost a well-thought out guide
to making ethical decisions. The guide is a blueprint for
developing morally mature individuals, persons who are in
charge of their own choices. Each of us has the power to make
choices. We are each responsible for those decisions.
(medical ethics) studies moral issues specific to the fields
of medical treatment and medical research. As a discipline,
medical ethics traces its roots all the way back to the ancient
Greek Hippocratic Oath. Centuries later, the American Medical
Association established its first professional code of ethics
in 1846. The atrocities inflicted on detention camp occupants
in World War II led to the more recent Nuremberg
Code for research ethics on human subjects. Bioethics
presently impacts multiple professional fields: medicine,
law, teaching, nursing, sociology, philosophy and theology.
Washington Association for Biomedical Research believes
that "Understanding the social implications of biological
knowledge and biomedical technology is an important civic
Even at the high school level, science ethics is becoming
a classroom staple. According to the Howard
Hughes Medical Institute, "ethics education is reshaping
high school science." While some believe that values-based
instruction has no place in the science curriculum, others
see bioethics as a necessary component.
In the opinion of Sister Carol Taylor, the subject of this
month's article, every Catholic, indeed every citizen, needs
to be concerned with bioethics. All of us deal with birth,
with living and with deathand modern science offers us many
choices as we move through these experiences. As director
of clinical ethics for Georgetown
University, Sister Carol and her staff help countless
patients and medical practitioners make difficult decisions.
Career professionals in health care have moral obligations
to their patients' health and well-being, according to Sister
Carol. A "faith-based voice," she readily acknowledges
differing viewpoints. Some see health care as "a commodity
to be sold." Do you view children as gifts of God and
nature, she asks, or as products to be sold? How you answer
the question will shape your practical decisions.
Accurate information is key to an informed decision. These
resources can help you gather data.
· The Kennedy
Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University. Their high
school bioethics curriculum project outlines summer courses
available to high school teachers.
· Georgetown University's Center
for Clinical Bioethics Consult Service
· The Linacre Centre
for Healthcare Ethics
· The National
Catholic Bioethics Center
· The high
school bioethics program at the University of Pennsylvania
offers online help with bioethics homework.
· The Human Genome
Project, a 13-year effort coordinated by the U. S. Department
of Energy and the National Institutes of Health.
of bioethical terms.
and Ethics Newsweekly, a PBS program and a newsletter,
offers a series
on bioethics. First aired in 2001, transcripts of the
programs are available online. The series discussed topics
such as cloning, stem cell research, and reproductive bio-technology.
· Other Links for Learners on stem-cell
research and cloning.
· This site's feature Cloning
and Catholic Ethics.
Try accessing some of these Internet sources for further
general reference. Be aware, however, that some of these
sites may charge for downloading articles contained within
the site’s archives.
United States Conference
of Catholic Bishops
of Vatican II
The New York Times
The Los Angeles Times
The Washington Post
The Miami Herald
The Associated Press
site to a number of online news publications
The History Channel
The Close Up Foundation Washington, D.C.-based
Channel One online resource for the school channel