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Essential Objectives

Course Syllabus

Revision Date: 14-Jun-24

Fall 2024 | HUM-2020-VO02 - Bioethics

Online Class

Online courses take place 100% online via Canvas, without required in-person or Zoom meetings.

Location: Online
Credits: 3 (45 hours)
Day/Times: Meets online
Semester Dates: 09-03-2024 to 12-16-2024
Last day to drop without a grade: 09-16-2024 - Refund Policy
Last day to withdraw (W grade): 11-04-2024 - Refund Policy
Open Seats: 16 (as of 07-24-24 8:05 PM)
To check live space availability, Search for Courses.


Phillips Keller
View Faculty Credentials
View Faculty Statement
Hiring Coordinator for this course: Jennifer Gundy

General Education Requirements

This section meets the following CCV General Education Requirement(s) for the current catalog year:
VSCS Humanistic Perspectives
  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 catalog year 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 social justice implications of bioethical issues such as allocation of and access to healthcare resources, differential treatment of certain groups, and environmental health; describe their effect on specific populations and propose just solutions.
6. Demonstrate critical reasoning, research, and argumentation skills in analyzing and developing informed positions about significant bioethical controversies.

Required Technology

More information on general computer and internet recommendations is available on the CCV IT Support page. https://support.ccv.edu/general/computer-recommendations/

Please see CCV's Digital Equity Statement (pg. 45) to learn more about CCV's commitment to supporting all students access the technology they need to successfully finish their courses.

Required Textbooks and Resources

HUM-2020-VO02 Link to Textbooks/Resources Information for this course in eCampus.

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


The activities this semester consist of:

  • Weekly Reading Assignment
  • Weekly Discussion Forum
  • One 4-6 page Response Paper
  • Final Examination

Evaluation Criteria

Discussion Forum Participation – 50%

There are 13 weekly discussion forums, of which 11 will be graded. Each discussion forum will be worth between 1-5 points, depending on the quality of your participation. Each week’s discussion forum topic will be based on the preceding week’s reading assignment. Before entering the discussion forum for the first time, you should read the grading criteria that I have posted in Week 0. The grading criteria will give you a good idea of what I am looking for in your responses.

Response Paper – 25%

A 4-6 page response paper will be assigned during the semester on a topic to be determined. Your paper should demonstrate that you have understood the assigned material by presenting the pros and cons of the issue as well as your own position. For a more detailed explanation of my expectations, please see the “Response Paper Grading Criteria” in Week 0.

Final Examination – 25%

The Final Examination will be a series of short essays based on the work we have done during the semester.

Grading Criteria

CCV Letter Grades as outlined in the Evaluation System Policy are assigned according to the following chart:

A Less than 9893
A-Less than 9390
B+Less than 9088
B Less than 8883
B-Less than 8380
C+Less than 8078
C Less than 7873
C-Less than 7370
D+Less than 7068
D Less than 6863
D-Less than 6360
FLess than 60 
NPLess than 600

Weekly Schedule

Week/ModuleTopic  Readings  Assignments


Class Introductions


“Good and Bad Ethical Reasoning” (Pence, Chapter 1)
"Why Our Children Don't Think There are Moral Facts"


Discussion Forum: Getting to Know You
Writing Assignment: Scavenger Hunt



Basic Principles


“Research on Vulnerable Populations” (Pence, chapter 9)
Wikipedia article on Hippocratic Oath
AMA News article on Modern Hippocratic Oath


Discussion Forum: Ethical Theories and Bioethics



Individual Rights (Autonomy) and Informed Consent


“Requests to Die: Terminal and Nonterminal Patients” (Pence, chapter 2)
AMA article on refusing life-sustaining treatment


Discussion Forum: Human Research: The Conflict Between Autonomy and Utility



The Right to Refuse Treatment: A Consequence of Autonomy


“Strained by Katrina, A Hospital Faces Deadly Choices”


Discussion Forum: Does a Mentally Competent Person Have a Right to Refuse Treatment?



Physician-Assisted Suicide


“Abortion: The Trial of Kenneth Edelin” (Pence, chapter 4)
“Our Bodies, Our Souls"


Discussion Forum: Does Society Have an Obligation to Help a Person Die?



The Limits of Autonomy/Introduction to Personhood


“Comas: Quinlan, Cruzan and Schiavo” (Pence, chapter 3)


Discussion Forum: "Our Bodies, Our Souls"

Begin Response Paper (topic to be announced)



Personhood Continued: Brain Death


Read: “Medical Research on Animals” (Pence, Chapter 8)
Tom Regan: "Christianity and Animal Rights"
Watch: “Unnecessary Fuss, Parts 1-5”


Discussion Forum: Ethical Treatment at the End of Life

Write: Work on Response Paper



Do Animals Have Rights Too?


"Just Distribution of Organs: the God Committee” (Pence, chapter 11)


Discussion Forum: Is Animal Experimentation Justified

Continue working on response paper



There will be no discussion forum or reading assignment this week so students can work on their response papers.



Organ Transplantation


“Embryos, Stem Cells and Cloning” (Pence, chapter 6)
Cloning Fact Sheet


Discussion Forum: Personal Responsibility and The Ethics of Organ Distribution



The Brave New World of Genetic Engineering


"Ethical Issues in Testing for Genetic Disease" (Pence, chapter 15)
"Facing Life with a Lethal Gene"


Discussion Forum: Is Cloning Ethical?



Testing for Genetic Disease


“Ethical Issues with the Affordable Care Act” (Pence, chapter 17)
Watch: "Sick Around the World" (Frontline video)


Discussion Forum: Would You Get Tested?/Does Society Have a Role to Play?



Universal Health Care


Discussion Forum: Is Health Care a Right?/What About the Costs?

Begin Final Exam



There will be no reading and no Discussion Forum this week so that students can work on the Final Exam.



Class Wrap-Up


Discussion Forum

Turn in Final Exam


Attendance Policy

Regular attendance and participation in classes are essential for success in and are completion requirements for courses at CCV. A student's failure to meet attendance requirements as specified in course descriptions will normally result in a non-satisfactory grade.

  • In general, missing more than 20% of a course due to absences, lateness or early departures may jeopardize a student's ability to earn a satisfactory final grade.
  • Attending an on-ground or synchronous course means a student appeared in the live classroom for at least a meaningful portion of a given class meeting. Attending an online course means a student posted a discussion forum response, completed a quiz or attempted some other academically required activity. Simply viewing a course item or module does not count as attendance.
  • Meeting the minimum attendance requirement for a course does not mean a student has satisfied the academic requirements for participation, which require students to go above and beyond simply attending a portion of the class. Faculty members will individually determine what constitutes participation in each course they teach and explain in their course descriptions how participation factors into a student's final grade.

Participation Expectations

Class attendance and participation is a critical part of the online learning experience. Students will be marked absent if they make no posts during any given week. If posts are submitted during a discussion forum week, the student will be considered present for CCV attendance purposes, although posting to the discussion board does not by itself guarantee a passing grade for the week.

A student with three absences, either consecutive or non-consecutive, may fail the course or receive a lower grade. This will be at the discretion of the course instructor. A student missing more than three weeks will not receive a passing grade for the course.

Discussion Forum Participation Requirements:

Just as you would spend three hours a week in an onsite classroom, so you are expected to spend three hours each week on the Discussion Forum. The Discussion Forum will be open for posting each week from Tuesday morning until midnight on Sunday. Each week I will post two or three questions (discussion threads) that relate to the previous week’s reading assignment. By the end of Thursday night each week, I expect you to post an in-depth response both of my questions, citing the previous week's reading where appropriate. By midnight on Sunday, I also expect you to respond to the postings of at least two of your classmates. You may make additional postings. Although additional postings are not required, students who earn and A for the week typically exceed the minimum number of required responses.

Since online classes do not meet at a specific time and place, students will have more flexibility in meeting these participation requirements.For this reason, there will be no makeup for missing a discussion forum week.You should expect that if you miss a discussion forum, you will not get credit for that week’s work.

Assuming that you make the required number of postings, your weekly grade in the discussion forums will be based upon the quality of your remarks. As a rule of thumb, your responses to my discussion questions or your classmates’ postings should be one or two paragraphs in length and should provide a succinct, well-reasoned statement of your position, with supporting evidence if appropriate. Generally speaking, one or two-sentence responses will not be considered quality postings. You may refer to personal experience in your posting, but before doing so please consider whether it is relevant to the topic, beneficial to others, and appropriate for sharing in a public forum.

Accessibility Services for Students with Disabilities:

CCV strives to mitigate barriers to course access for students with documented disabilities. To request accommodations, please
  1. Provide disability documentation to the Accessibility Coordinator at your academic center. https://ccv.edu/discover-resources/students-with-disabilities/
  2. Request an appointment to meet with accessibility coordinator to discuss your request and create an accommodation plan.
  3. Once created, students will share the accommodation plan with faculty. Please note, faculty cannot make disability accommodations outside of this process.

Academic Integrity

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.