History: The Bioethics Project from Past to Present

Beginning in 2012, twelve Kent Place School students were chosen to participate in The Bioethics Project—a student research program developed by The Hastings Center, an internationally recognized institute for the study of bioethics, and the Ethics Institute at Kent Place, a leader in secondary school ethics education. The Bioethics Project is an interdisciplinary program that bridges subjects such as science, philosophy, critical reading and writing, history, and politics.

Since the inaugural year, students have learned how to identify and analyze contemporary ethical dilemmas that emerge in the context of science and medicine—issues ranging from the fair distribution of resources in health care, to debates surrounding modern reproductive technologies. A community-wide symposium in the spring is their chance to share their findings with their families and school community and to lead us all in a conversation that tolerates opposing viewpoints and acknowledges the complexity inherent in complex social debates.

The Bioethics Project is modeled after The Hastings Center’s hallmark research methodology, which emphasizes the importance of bringing stakeholders and experts together to explore the ethical and social implication of a given bioethical issue. Building off of this foundation, the Ethics Institute at Kent Place School began a partnership with Georgetown University’s Kennedy Institute for Ethics in 2017. 

The partnership between the Ethics Institute (EI) and The Kennedy Institute of Ethics (KIE) began in 2015 when the KIE launched the first-ever Bioethics Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), and Ethics Institute was asked to pilot the program to groups of students and parents at Kent Place School. From there, the EI and KIE developed the Ethics in Action Program, and beginning in 2017, the partnership with the Bioethics Project began. Each year, the KIE at Georgetown University provides research scholars to mentor the students participating in The Bioethics Project. Mentors work one-on-one with the students to ensure in-depth ethical thinking and the highest level of scholarly research on the topics selected.