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Penn may soon be extending its expertise in bioethics to undergraduate education.

In the coming weeks, the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Advisory Board will be proposing a bioethics minor to the College curriculum.

The minor will be a collaboration between the College’s Department of Philosophy and the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy in the Perelman School of Medicine.

“I thought it was something Penn was lacking that it should have,” said College junior and DAB Junior Co-Chair Kyle Henson, who submitted the proposal for the minor last semester. “I knew that Penn was strong in bioethics, but the department lacked a structure that allowed for a full education in the subject and did not offer any undergraduate options,” added Henson, a Daily Pennsylvanian columnist.

According to its written proposal, the minor will “not serve as a simple survey of the current state of bioethics, but instead as an education that grants skills useful in many fields beyond academic bioethics.”

The minor would consist of a three-course core of philosophy, bioethics and sociology courses, and students would complete the minor with either three or four electives from a broad range of departments — including Health and Societies, Psychology, Legal studies, Philosophy and Healthcare Management.

The minor “promises to give students a solid core while being flexible enough to accommodate how diverse the field is,” Philosophy professor Adrienne Martin wrote in an email. It also “promises to unify the bioethics resources spread across the College and make them readily accessible to undergraduates … We in the Philosophy Department are excited about the minor and eager to house it.”

Penn is considered by some to be one of the major hubs for bioethics in the nation and, according to Martin, “is without a doubt one of the country’s most eminent institutions in the field.”

“I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say Penn is its own class in bioethics these days, especially with Dr. Gutmann as chair of the President’s Bioethics Commission and our new colleague Zeke Emanuel,” Medical Ethics professor Jonathan Moreno said. Emanuel recently joined Penn as the department chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, as well as the vice provost for global initiatives.

The minor hopes to capitalize on Penn’s strengths in the field.

“Zeke [Emanuel] coming to Penn created the perfect opportunity for the minor,” Henson said. “There is a sense of support for the minor that looks to draw on Penn’s strengths.”

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