To See Differently: Incorporating the Arts into Bioethics Education

  • Terry Maksymowych
Part of the Advancing Global Bioethics book series (AGBIO, volume 10)


Traditional approaches to teaching bioethics courses include, among other things, case studies from clinical or research ethics, chapters on patient autonomy and beneficence, conflicts of interest and the dangers of hidden prejudice. All of these are essential to a good bioethics course. In my experience, however, incorporating the arts—whether it is a poem, short story, film, or a painting or play—enhances the curriculum and encourages students to see differently. The arts have the power to startle, to challenge beliefs, to invite people to see the world through others’ eyes. In our culture, the arts are often relegated to the province of entertainment, but they can be powerful teaching tools, particularly in a field of study in which empathy is highly valued. Every culture has stories, art, music and dance, and these can be used to speak to students in introductory or advanced bioethics courses. In science and humanities courses, they can be used to introduce bioethical dilemmas and promote discussion. An instructor can use examples from the students’ own culture and expand their experience by introducing the arts and particular ethical issues of other cultures. This chapter will focus on the methodology of incorporating the arts into bioethics classrooms, using examples from various cultural traditions.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Academy of Notre Dame de NamurVillanovaUSA

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