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Web Schedule Fall 2019

Revision Date: 21-Aug-19

HUM-2020-VO01X - Bioethics

Synonym: 186499
Location: Online
Credits: 3 (45 hours)
Accelerated Section: This course has special meeting dates and times. See comments below or consult VSC Web Services - Search for Sections in the VSC portal for specific dates and times. If you have any questions call the site office offering the course.
Day/Times: Meets online
Semester Dates: 09-03-2019 to 10-21-2019
Last day to drop without a grade: 09-12-2019 - Refund Policy
Last day to withdraw (W grade): 10-01-2019 - Refund Policy
Faculty: Mercedes Pour-Previti | View Faculty Credentials
This course has started, please contact the offering academic center about registration
This section meets the following General Education Requirement(s):
Human Expression
  1. Many degree programs have specific general education recommendations. In order to avoid taking unnecessary classes, please consult with additional resources like your program evaluation, your academic program page, and your academic advisor.
  2. Courses may only be used to meet one General Education Requirement.

Course Description:

This course explores ethical issues and decision-making processes involved in biomedical research and practice, as viewed from legal, medical, social and philosophical perspectives. Students will apply philosophical frameworks, theoretical approaches, argument development skills, and critical thinking to address moral questions pertaining to the beginning and end of life, biotechnology and genetic experimentation, justice in healthcare, responsibilities of physicians, environmental health and other pertinent subjects.

Essential Objectives:

1. Discuss individual, social, cultural, and ethical implications of making decisions on a range of moral issues related to healthcare and biology (including right to life and death, reproductive issues, sexual assignment, cloning, and the role of religion in healthcare), and reflect on varied positions surrounding these.
2. Identify and define key concepts, facts, theories, and perspectives important in clarifying and resolving bioethical concerns including patient choice, confidentiality, informed consent, access to information, and physician/family relationships.
3. Discuss types of criteria which physicians, hospital administrators, government officials, and legal professionals use in making decisions affecting human life and how these affect individuals, families, and various populations.
4. Examine current controversies in biomedical research from political, social, and philosophical perspectives.
5. Explore philosophical and cultural implications of bioethical issues such as allocation of and access to healthcare resources, differential treatment of certain groups, and environmental health, and describe their effect on specific populations.
6. Demonstrate critical reasoning, research, and argumentation skills in analyzing and developing informed positions about significant bioethical controversies.

Additional Instructor Pre-Assignments/Notes/Comments:

** Please note: THERE IS NO TEXT FOR THIS CLASS. This class will be taught exclusively with Open Source and Hartness Library materials. You will need reliable and ready access to a good internet connection. There will be no traditional textbook. If you think you need the structure and traditional support of a text, please choose one of the other sections of Bioethics.**

This course is offered as an intensive this semester. This means that though we will only meet for seven (7) weeks – the workload will be significant each week (my mantra will be: rigorous, but reasonable). If you enjoy reading, exploring ethics, and challenging debates, however, the exciting material will pull you through the weeks. Please review this syllabus carefully before you decide to take this course so you understand what will be expected.

Welcome to Bioethics. This is a class for anyone who is thinking about pursuing a career in the health care field, anyone curious about how we as humans make decisions about ourselves and our values, or anyone interested in exploring some of the contemporary ethical dilemmas of our society. The reality is at least one of the issues we will discuss this semester will probably impact either your personal or professional life in the future. When that time comes, all of us, whether as caregivers, family members, health care professionals, or patients, will be better prepared to confront and deal with the issue if we have spent some time exploring it academically.

This class meets the Human Expression requirement for most CCV degrees and is a core requirement of the CCV Medical Assisting degree. There are no prerequisites for this class, but students should be confident in their reading and writing skills as this is a rather intensive and online Humanities course.

Humans have largely created the field of Bioethics (not only because we like to dissect human reality into manageable academic disciplines) as we have, primarily in the past eighty years, changed what is possible in the realm of medicine. New tools, drugs, procedures, capabilities, and understanding have made what was impossible possible. We can insert stents into the veins and arteries of heart attack patients, map brain activity during a coma, transplant vital organs (some of which may be artificial), and through surgery and drug therapy, change males into females. Of course, what we can do is progressing every day. And each year we develop a more comprehensive and accurate understanding of how the human mind and body function and communicate. And yet, with each advance of what we can do, we must pause to consider if we should do it. We will examine the very nature and purpose of medicine as we look at some perennial debates in bioethics and try to come to a rational and human understanding of the issues.

While this is not technically a philosophy course, we will spend some time exploring ethical theory and argument procedures so that we are able to frame each question rationally and begin our discussions from a shared starting point. It is imperative that all members of this class realize that we are going to have to tackle issues which may involve faith, traditional belief, cultural sensitivities, and some personal experience. Respect for all voices is paramount; an open mind is essential.


As an online class, we will obviously gather virtually - but a lot of the work you do will be almost physical. You will need to read materials carefully, view streamed lectures and videos critically and carefully, write academic essays and posts, and keep notes of all this activity so that you are ready to share your insights with your peers. I will post viewing and observation note taking guides to help you with all of this. My responsibilities also include posting the following: "terms" of week so we all learn to use and understand a new vocabulary of bioethics, mini-video introductions of each week's topic, frequent and timely response to both your work on the post and discussion forums, and honest and constructive feedback on your writing and ideas.

In order to explore this topic we must first agree that this course will be a bit different than other courses. The topic demands your participation and your contributions. For that reason, your “presence” on the different forums is paramount to your success in this course, and I will use your participation in the discussion board to log your attendance. Since this is an intensive, if you miss two weeks you will automatically fail this course. (Also see Grading Criteria below)

As this is in an online course, expect the amount of personal work to be serious, but not overwhelming. You will be reading and writing every week and should really work to stay current if not ahead of the reading in order to be successful. You have all assignments outlined or planned below so should be able to plan around any significant busy times in your own lives. As this is an online course I need to be rather firm with deadlines – for both your benefit and mine. Any late written work (essays/exams) is automatically graded a full point lower for every day it is late and will not be accepted a week past the due date. Discussions and post are only counted if posted within the week. However, since we are all adults and realize that life does happen, know that if you do have a personal emergency you can always email me before the work is due.

In terms of the actual methods we will use to explore this topic, you can expect:

  • Weekly microlectures which may or may not include a powerpoint.
  • Assigned reading almost every week (which I expect you to keep notes on).
  • Assigned viewings regularly throughout the course (which you should also keep notes on).
  • Weekly discussion forum and post forum (both of which are outlined below).
  • Low-risk weekly reading/vocab quizzes designed just to make sure we are all on track.
  • One short essay, one presentation, and one final exam (again outlined below).
  • Regular visits and interaction with the course and your peers through Moodle. I do expect everyone to be on the site and active at least three times a week for a total minimum of three hours.
  • Interaction with your instructor either by email or phone as you feel is needed.

I do reserve the right to shift this syllabus slightly as the course progresses if our class situation warrants so.

Texts & Required Materials:

This is a textless class. The course will be taught exclusively with open source and Hartness Library materials.

One film or novel/book of the student's choosing as the topic of the final presentation. You will require access to a computer with the ability to record sound and some presentation software (powerpoint, etc - you have free access through CCV). A list of acceptable books/films will be available in the Canvas classroom.

Evaluation Criteria:

Please know that this course runs Tuesday - Tuesday. Work must be posted before 12 am on Tuesday to be considered submitted in the week prior. However, in the forums below take note of the due dates of original posts and responses.

In anticipation of internet/computer/access issues please have a backup plan. Know where you can access a computer and/or internet in your community and utilize multiple backup options. Your local CCV and libraries are great resources. Extensions for computer issues do not exist.

30% Discussion Forum: Each week I will pose a question or questions on the week’s topic. In your response, I ask that you demonstrate that you have done the readings or the viewings, have thought critically about the issues at hand, and are attempting to share your experiences to further the group discussion. This is where I am looking for you to use the week's readings or viewings to inform your answers to posted questions or discussion topics. This forum is a bit more informal - though all writing should have a tone fitting for professional exchange(No "text-language" - though the occasional smiley face helps to alleviate any miscommunication in our online community). In order to earn full credit in this forum:

  • the original post must be a minimum of a full paragraph piece 250-400 words
  • you must have at least two responses to your peers which approach short paragraphs
  • you must respond to every peer that responds to your substantive post.

Discussions only count if posted within the week they are due. In order to receive full credit and allow time for your peers to comment, please post by Friday night.

30% Posts (both public Forums and private Journals): Most weeks I ask you to post a more formal reflection on the week’s topic. This is a writing you compose and then post for your peers to read (post forum) or post privately to the instructor (journal post) depending on the week's question and topic. I would expect these posts to be one – two short paragraphs (minimum of 250 words) and demonstrate both mastery and familiarity with topics, readings, and viewings from the weeks prior. This is where I will expect you to begin to synthesize your thoughts as we move through the course. There are no replies required for this forum (but they are always welcome). Posts only count if posted within the week they are due. In order to receive full credit please post by Sunday night.

  • Both of the forums above will be graded according to their respective descriptions and the following rubric:
    • 9-10 points -The original post was submitted on time and responses were completed within the week allowing enough time for others to reply. This discussion is a response to the questions posed by theinstructor in each week's forum prompt and includes evidence that both shows all readings/viewing are complete and that supports ideas. Tone is respectful and professional. *This is a superior post - do not expect this level without giving each post real time*
    • 7-8 points -The original post was submitted on time and responses were completed within the week allowing enough time for others to reply. This discussion post either responds to the questionsposed bytheinstructor in each week's forum prompt or includes evidence that all readings/viewing arecomplete. Language and tone are serious but miss the level of attention for a 5.Postings are shorter thanoptimal.
    • 5-6 points -The original post is late or was submitted on time with responses completed within the week.This discussion post either responds to the questions posed by the instructor in each week's forum prompt or includes evidence that all readings/viewing are complete. However, attention to detail, tone, and original thoughts are satisfactory. Responses are little more than attempts to agree/disagree with substance or reasoning and proofs. All contributions are a bit shorter than what the topic deserves.
    • 3-4 points -The original post is late or was submitted on time with less than required responses completed within the week. This discussion post fails to either respond to the questions posed by the instructor include evidence that all readings/viewing are complete. There is an attempt to participate but little attention paid to composition or thought.
    • 1 point -Nominal participation or inappropriate/disrespectful tone.
    • 0 points -No participation or plagiarized language/material.
  • 20% Weekly Quizzes &Final Exam: Quizzes are typically multiple-choice and a maximum of 5 questions. These are just designed to make sure we are all earning the vocabulary/themes and able to apply them appropriately. I drop the lowest quiz grade of the five. The final exam will consist of short answer, vocabulary, and some content-related questions. There will also be an essay question which you will prepare in advance and paste into the exam.
  • 20% Short Project: One narrated virtual presentation on a topic in bioethics.

Grading Criteria:

All written assignments, including our final paper, will have specific rubrics posted in Canvas; I will grade based on those and share a copy of that grading rubric when I return your work. See above for how I will grade the different forums in this course. Discussions and post forums are only counted within the week they are due. Late work is handled in each rubric as a proportional point deduction, but please know that as a rule I do not accept essays/exams beyond a week of the due date. If you have a personal emergency please contact me directly.


Fall 2019 textbook data will be available on May 13. On that date a link will be available below that will take you to eCampus, CCV's bookstore. The information provided there will be for this course only. Please see this page for more information regarding the purchase of textbooks.

The last day to use a Financial Aid advance to purchase textbooks is the 3rd Tuesday of the semester. See your financial aid counselor at your academic center if you have any questions.

Contact Faculty:

Email: Mercedes Pour-Previti
Hiring Coordinator for this course: Jennifer Gundy

Attendance Policy:

Attendance Policy: Regular attendance and participation in classes are essential components of a student's success in college and are completion requirements for courses at CCV. Since this class is only seven weeks long, please be aware that missing two (2) weeks will result in a non-satisfactory grade. Attendance in this class is tracked via the Forums.


' '

“Respect every living being, in principle, as an end in itself and treat it accordingly wherever it is possible.” (Fritz Jahr, 1927)

Week#1: Intro to Bioethics

Taking this Course

Why We Need Bioethics (5 minutes)

Four Principles of Bioethics

Why Bioethics Matters Today

Dr. Maggie Little on Bioethics

Bioethics - IEP

Contemporary Case involving Bioethics - Jahi Mcmath

A more bioethical/legal summary of Jahi Mcmath

Week 1 Discussion: Introductions of Ourselves

Week 1 Post: Why Bioethics – Jahi McGrath?

Quick Quiz Week 1

Week #2: Death & Dying

Terms: slippery slope, advance directive, euthanasia, assisted suicide; physician-assisted suicide (physician-assisted death), assisted-suicide (assisted-death) DNR, DNI, slippery slope, autonomy

Ethical Theory Cheat Sheet

Quinlan to Schiavo

Series of Case Studies

"Definition of Death" from SEP

NOVA - The Hippocratic Oath

Assistance in dying: Dax’s Case and other reflections on the issue

"It's Over, Debbie."

A Death of One's Own

Decision Making in Bioethics

Vermont Advance Directive Registry

Optional Video/Different Perspective: Terri Schaivo Story

Week 2 Discussion: Three threads....

Week 2 Journal: In the Absence of an Advance Directive... Journal

Quick Quiz Week 2

Week #3: When (Does) Life Begins

Terms: quality of life, ad litem, medically reasonable options, personhood (potential-for-relationships, gradient view, cognitive criterion)

Guttmacher Overview of State Abortion Laws

Is Unwanted Pregancy a Medical Disorder

Good Overview - from Lawrence Hinman, PhD.

Breakdown of Ethical Components from BBC

Interesting Powerpoint on Personhood (more scientific)

Outline of Baby Doe Cases and Ethical/Legal Considerations

Case Study – Baby Grace

Writing for Philosophy

Short Essay #1: Application of Ethical Theory to a Contemporary Case Study due Week 3

Week 3 Discussion: What Limits and Why? An Inquiry.

Week 3 Journal: Baby Grace

Short Essay #1: Theory Application DUE MONDAY pm

Week #4: Science versus Nature – Where is the Line?

Overview of Assisted Reproduction - Hasting Center

Fertility Treatments and Multiple Births (short NPR story)

Fertility Drugs, Not IVF, Are Top Cause Of Multiple Births

Recent story on DNA testing - NPR

We Should Design Babies?

Fix Me - Stem Cell Research & Possibilities

Making Life ( 9 minutes)

How Accessible Should Transgender Surgery Be?

Ethics and Trangender Youth

Week 4 Discussion: Modern story on Fertility/Prenatal Bioethics

Week 4 Journal: You are the Doctor.

Quick Quiz Week 4

Week #5: Vaccines, Resources, and Real Life

Liberty and Where Noses Begin

Larry King Autism w/ Jenny McCarthy. Vaccines


Vermont Lawmakers Debate Letting Parents Say No To Vaccines For School

Passions Flare Over Involuntary Medication Bill

Upworthy video: Vaccines

Brief Overview of Polio, Polio Vaccine Risks, and Smallpox eradication

Daily Show: Samantha Bee on Vaccines

Carrie Buck's Daughter

Parental Refusal to Treat as Religious Freedom

Week 5 Discussion: MiniView #2 - The Challenge

Week 5 Post: MiniView Reflection

Quick Quiz Week 5

Week #6: Research on Humans & Independent Project

Human Research - Good Overview

Nuremburg Code from DHHS

WMA Declaration of Helsinki

Nazi Medical Experiments - From the Holocaust Museum (Overview)

Tushkegee - from the University

Stanford Prison Experiment - Chronicle from Zimbardo

Rule Changes Proposed for Research on Humans- NY Times

Segment on the Tuskegee Study (6 min)

Should Nazi Research Be Used in Modern Practice?

The Right to a Decent Minimum of Health Care, Buchanan

Week 6 Discussion: Human Subject Exploration

Week 6 Journal Post: IRBResearch

Independent Presentation

Week #7: Review, Reflections and Final Exam

An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments (Awesome!) For Discussion

The Power of Belief: Mindset and Success - For Discussion

Mindset Flowchart Page

Developing a Growth Mindset - Optional Resource

Final Exam Essay Questions

You will have all week to compose/proof your answers. Then you will paste them into the actual exam.

Week 7 Discussion: Peer Presentation Discussion

Week 7 Post: Class Reflection

Final Exam Due by Monday Night at 11:59 pm

Please note: In order to receive accommodations for disabilities in this course, students must make an appointment to see the Americans with Disabilities Coordinator in their site and bring documentation with them.

Academic Honesty: CCV has a commitment to honesty and excellence in academic work and expects the same from all students. Academic dishonesty, or cheating, can occur whenever you present -as your own work- something that you did not do. You can also be guilty of cheating if you help someone else cheat. Being unaware of what constitutes academic dishonesty (such as knowing what plagiarism is) does not absolve a student of the responsibility to be honest in his/her academic work. Academic dishonesty is taken very seriously and may lead to dismissal from the College.

Course description details subject to change. Please refer to this document frequently.

To check on space availability, choose Search for Classes.

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