Health Care Ethics (HCE)

HCE 5020 - Ethical Issues in Public Health

Credit(s): 2 or 3 Credits

Through readings, lectures, discussions, and case studies, students develop: (1) knowledge of the basic ethical concepts operative in medical and public health ethics; (2) understanding of current ethical challenges facing those engaged in health promotion, disease prevention, and epidemiologic research; and (3) the ability to articulate ethical challenges and to make critical and informed ethical decisions. (Offered annually.)

HCE 5330 - Research Ethics for Health Outcomes

Credit(s): 1 Credit

This course provides students with an understanding of the principles of ethics in scientific research. Students will gain an understanding of responsible conduct of research including the importance of ethical decision-making and identification of rules, responsibilities, and resources for responsible conduct. Topics include informed consent, research misconduct, policies in human subjects research, data management and data sharing, and dealing with conflicts of interest.

HCE 5400 - Race in Science and Medicine

Credit(s): 3 Credits

In order to understand the complex role of race in medicine and medical research today, this course will examine race from an interdisciplinary standpoint. It will begin by looking at the historical trajectories of the concept of race in different fields, including sociology, anthropology, genetics and law, and how these have interacted with our folk understandings of race. We will then examine how this evolving concept of race has shaped the medical study of race and health, including research regulations, journal requirements, and assumptions and categories of research studies themselves. Third, we will look at how race manifests in medical practice today, including general treatment, identification and treatment of mental illness, and race-based/personalized drugs and screening. We will conclude with an examination of how all of these interactions with race relate to the experience and practice of raced doctors and patients in the healthcare system today.

HCE 5500 - Ethics in Nursing& Health Care

Credit(s): 2 Credits

This course offers an overview of ethical theory, principles, and norms which should inform professional nursing practice. The meaning of nursing as a profession is studied as a source of ethical obligation for the nurse. Cases which arise in the practice of nursing are analyzed and evaluated in light of the identified ethical theory, principles, and norms.

HCE 5930 - Special Topics

Credit(s): 1-3 Credits (Repeatable for credit)

HCE 5960 - Masters Capstone Project

Credit(s): 0 Credits (Repeatable for credit)

This course is a highly individualized normative research project, culminating in master's-level paper in health care ethics.

HCE 5980 - Graduate Reading

Credit(s): 1-3 Credits

HCE 6010 - Methods in Philosophical Ethic

Credit(s): 3 Credits

A study of the methodological issues in philosophy concerning the nature and justification of fundamental ethical norms, including: philosophical ethics and non-philosophical disciplines; philosophical methods of justifying ethical norms; Kantian ethics; contractarian ethics; virtue ethics; ethics and psychobiology; different methods of justification; epistemological status of ethics.

HCE 6020 - Methods in Religious Ethics

Credit(s): 3 Credits

A study of the hermeneutical significance of different methods in religious ethics and a critical analysis of the hermeneutical implications of these methods for the development of ethical theory.

HCE 6040 - Interdisciplinary Research in Health Care Ethics

Credit(s): 3 Credits

A study of the scope, concerns, and methods of interdisciplinary research in Health Care Ethics, including: interdisciplinary research methods with associated competencies; cross-cultural paradigms of person, community, and health; epistemological processes for interdisciplinary research; criteria for persuasion and ethical justification in interdisciplinary research.

HCE 6050 - Philosophical Foundations

Credit(s): 3 Credits

HCE 6060 - Psychosocial Foundations

Credit(s): 3 Credits

HCE 6070 - Foundations of Catholic Morality

Credit(s): 3 Credits

This course explores basic themes of the Catholic moral tradition such as the human person as a moral agent, human freedom, the role and rights of conscience, the importance of virtue in the moral life, natural law, the use of Scripture in moral theology and the importance of human experience in the moral life. Particular attention will be given to the development of the moral tradition.


Enrollment limited to students in a Doctor of Philosophy degree.

Enrollment limited to students in the Center for Health Care Ethics college.

HCE 6110 - Intro-Medicine for Ethicists

Credit(s): 1 Credit

A study of the principles and practice of medicine as a framework for ethical discourse, including: the classification and etiology of diseases (e.g. genetic diseases); their clinical manifestations and complications (e.g. the use of imaging techniques); and principles of medical and surgical treatment (e.g. life support systems).

HCE 6120 - Bioethics and the Law

Credit(s): 2 Credits

This course examines legal issues in health care decision making in areas typically considered a part of bioethics, such as organ transplantation, genetic medicine, end-of-life care, determination of death, and experimentation with human subjects. While the course focuses on cases, statues and regulations applicable to these issues, the course also studies the leading approaches in ethics as they are applied in these situations. The course includes consideration of the primary processes used for dispute resolution in bioethics, including litigation , institutional ethics committees, and institutional review boards.

HCE 6130 - Clinical Ethics

Credit(s): 3 Credits

A study of fundamental skills and core areas of knowledge essential for ethics consultation, integrating process and outcomes, to identify, analyze, and resolve ethical dilemmas, cases and issues, that emerge in the context of patient care.

HCE 6140 - Research Ethics

Credit(s): 3 Credits

This course introduces students to a range of topics in research ethics. The focus of the course is academic human subjects research ethics, though issues of regulation and compliance will be discussed throughout. For each topic selected, there will be four main study elements: (1) identify the ethical issues that emerge; (2) identify the major ethical arguments concerning these issues; (3) assess the major arguments; (4) examine the relevance of these issues and arguments to particular instances of human subjects research.

HCE 6150 - Practicum, Health Care Ethics

Credit(s): 1-3 Credits (Repeatable for credit)

This practicum engages students in medical care settings with these goals: to experience a wide range of acute clinical care; to observe the patient/family/caregiver dynamics involved in clinical care; to reflect critically on the ethical challenges and principles involved in these patient care settings.

HCE 6310 - Health Care Ethics: Catholic Tradition

Credit(s): 3 Credits

This course will examine moral methodology and critical issues in Catholic bioethics, primarily through the lens of four contemporary moral theologians who present differing, sometimes opposing, viewpoints on the subject matter.

HCE 6320 - Gerontology and Ethics

Credit(s): 3 Credits

A study of the aging process and of the dying process in the context of end-of-life technology, including: quality of life; chronic pain; independence and inter-dependence; home care, case management, and long-term care; life-prolonging treatment; nutrition and hydration; futile care; euthanasia and suicide.

HCE 6330 - The Human Genome

Credit(s): 3 Credits

A study of the human genome and its implications for the sanctity and dignity of human life, including: genetic make-up, disease, testing, engineering, counseling, and therapies; privacy, consent, and confidentiality; the management of genetic information (e.g. insurance companies); patenting scientific information in genetics; legal and social policies on genetic technology.

HCE 6340 - Health Care Reform

Credit(s): 3 Credits

A study of governmental, organizational, and market developments in health care reform, including: social justice and the common good; fragmented health care, capacity, and cost; integrated delivery systems and the continuum of care; managed care, capitation, resource allocation, and quality; universal coverage, community health, and preventative care; information technology.

HCE 6350 - Pediatric Ethics

Credit(s): 3 Credits

This course is a study of the ethical and legal issues that arise in the care of children and adolescents. The course will begin by examining functional issues related to medical decision-making for children, including standards of decision-making and the roles of the parent and the state. Special attention will be given to feminist perspectives on bioethics. The course will then explore particular topics of interest in pediatric ethics, including: issues in perinatology and neonatology, vaccinations, pediatric organ donation and pediatric research ethics. Offered in spring.

HCE 6360 - Religious Scholars in HCE

Credit(s): 3 Credits

A study of one or several religious scholars in health care ethics, including: the genesis of the scholar's thought and works (e.g. response to previous religious theories); a systematic critique of the method adopted (e.g. implications for social/ecclesial policy); an evaluation of the scholar's contribution (e.g. influence upon religious traditions).

HCE 6370 - Psych Issues in HCE

Credit(s): 3 Credits

A study of psychological issues as they relate to health care ethics. Specific issues include: psychological interpretations of ethical behavior; psychological approaches to moral development; developmental approaches to moral education; and psychological factors embedded in controversial issues of interest to health care ethicists, such as sexual practices, suicide, and abortion.

HCE 6400 - Foucault and Biopolitics

Credit(s): 3 Credits

Foucault's interests were broad, including psychiatry, medicine, economics, politics, penal systems, and sexuality. This course will examine several works, place him in philosophical and historical context, and explore how his philosophical methods for critical engagement -- genealogy and archaeology -- might be used to engage questions of embodiment, medicine, psychiatry, politics, & ethics.

HCE 6510 - Interdisciplinary Research Seminar

Credit(s): 0 Credits (Repeatable for credit)

The interdisciplinary research seminar is recommended for students between the end of coursework and completing the dissertation. This seminar examines ongoing dissertation research, integrating the knowledge of method and systematic analysis in ethics, of interdisciplinary study, and of foreign literature in health care ethics.

HCE 6520 - Quantitative Research in Descriptive Ethics

Credit(s): 3 Credits

Prerequisites: Enrollment in the quantitative track of the certificate program and RMET650 Multivariate Statistical Analysis. This course provides the opportunity to design and carry out directed, quantitative research in descriptive ethics. The course fosters the development of skills necessary to secure grant funding, to gain Institutional Review Board approval, and to do empirical research that can be integrated into the doctoral dissertation in health care ethics.

HCE 6530 - Qualitative Research in Descriptive Ethics

Credit(s): 3 Credits

Matriculation in and in the second year of the J.D.-PhD program. Course fosters the development of research skills needed to conduct legal and ethical research on topics related to healthcare. Through close mentoring, students will also develop expertise on a specific topic in health law and ethics and a publishable manuscript.

HCE 6540 - Advanced Clinical Ethics Practicum

Credit(s): 3 Credits

This course provides an extended and immersive clinical ethics experience during which students will obtain the knowledge and skills necessary for ethics consultation. The course consists of two primary components: extended experiential learning within an institutional clinical ethics service and (2) the development of a clinical ethics portfolio, both of which are overseen by an on-site clinical ethics mentor and a faculty member. This course typically takes place over a summer at a pre-arranged internship site.

HCE 6930 - Special Topics

Credit(s): 1-3 Credits (Repeatable for credit)

HCE 6980 - Graduate Reading Course

Credit(s): 1-3 Credits (Repeatable for credit)

HCE 6990 - Dissertation Research

Credit(s): 0-9 Credits (Repeatable for credit)

School of Medicine

HCE 0101 - Foundations in Health Care Ethics

Credit(s): 1-10 Credits

The purpose of the health care ethics course for first year medical students is threefold. First, this foundational course is the first in a longitudinal approach to ethics instruction designed to teach students that ethics is not merely a set of rules nor an ancillary part of the medical curriculum that can be set aside when the ethics course is over. Rather, ethics is a central part of medical practice, including how one understands the goals and ends of medicine, how one sees a patient, how one interviews a patient, what are the ethical norms that govern the practice of medicine, and how to work through a clinical ethics dilemma. Second, the core ethics sessions instruct students the practical ethical standards (and some legal standards as well) that govern the practice of medicine. Emphasis will be placed on covering standards that are well entrenched and supported by wide consensus in the medical community. These standards are basic aspects of medical practice, reflecting values that each physician is expected (by colleagues, patients, legal authorities, and others) to uphold. However, certain realms of medical practice currently exhibit high levels of ethical controversy and flux. These more controversial areas may be visited in discussion, but emphasis will be placed on delineating the current scope of established ethical and legal norms. Third, the course will introduce a basic ethical framework for evaluating clinical cases. This framework will be applied in lecture and case discussion sessions.

HCE 0201 - Clinical Reasoning in Health Care Ethics

Credit(s): 1-10 Credits (Repeatable for credit)

This course is designed to familiarize students with ethical problems they will encounter during their medical careers. Whereas HCE 0101 provides the “grammar” of clinical ethics, introducing students to general principles, this course is an introduction to the “logic” of ethics, giving students the chance to apply such principles to clinical cases, just as they do in learning the principles of pathophysiology. The course is longitudinal and integrated into the other courses of the second year. The purpose of this design is to avoid allowing students to think of ethics as something external to clinical practice. Rather, ethical practice lies at the heart of medicine, and students must learn to think of themselves as moral agents even as they learn how to diagnose and treat patients.

HCE 0401 - Directed Readings in Bioethics

Credit(s): 2-12 Credits (Repeatable for credit)

This independent study course allows the student to investigate particular issues in ethics that appeal to the student, building where appropriate on previous courses in philosophy, healthcare ethics or medical humanities. The student is encouraged to examine an issue which has already been encountered in study or is anticipated to be encountered in future practice.