Life Science Ethics program

Ethics Education in the Life Sciences

Students, faculty and staff are frequently faced with challenging ethical issues involved with research and innovation. That’s why we created the Life Science Ethics Program.

This program joins others at ASU that are focused on the human dimensions of science, including the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics and the School for the Future of Innovation in Society.

We are actively taking existing ethics education and research from within our school and growing it into a full-fledged program that complements our undergraduate and graduate degree programs. As a student in our school, you will find unique opportunities to explore the societal and ethical implications of life sciences research and education.

Along with sustainability and entrepreneurship, ethics is an emerging pillar of ASU, contributing to the social embeddedness and public value of our work. As such, the School of Life Sciences seeks to be a leader at ASU in engaging ethics, whether it’s through systematically addressing how to understand the relationship between science and society or in giving students a new, human-focused dimension to their scientific studies.

Embedded ethics programs

We work with faculty members to support their inclusion of ethics content throughout the curriculum, including in both lower and upper division courses. This effort will help you respond to ethics issues, such as historical, legal, political and social issues, that often arise while working in the life sciences.

One-credit ethics labs

Our one-credit ethics labs are offered in conjunction with major undergraduate requirements. These labs will allow you to explore ethics issues related to life sciences, and at the same time, remain in the context of the natural sciences.

Our graduate students can develop and teach their very own "lab" section under the guidance of the Life Science Ethics program director.

Undergraduate courses

Traditional undergraduate entrance to applied ethics.

  • BIO 312: "Bioethics" with Ben Hurlbut, Spring semester (3 )
  • BIO 394: "Discussing Bioethics" with Ben Hurlbut, Spring semester (1)
  • BIO 318/HPS 331: "History of Medicine" with Ben Hurlbut and Jane Maienschein, every other Fall semester (3)
  • BIO 324: "Environmental Ethics" with Ben Minteer, Fall semester (3)
  • BIO 416/HPS 410: "Biomedical Research Ethics" with Karin Ellison and senior graduate students, every Spring semester (3)

Status: All courses are offered every other year during the academic year. Biomedical Research Ethics has been developed as an online course to be offered in summers, too. Development of online versions of Environmental Ethics and Bioethics are being discussed.

Graduate courses

Existing graduate entrance to applied ethics.

  • BIO 516: "Foundations of Bioethics" with Jason Robert, Spring semester (3)
  • BIO 591: "Topic: Environmental Ethics & Policy Goals" with Ben Minteer, Spring semester (3)
  • BIO 598: "Topic: Advanced Topics in Bioethics" with Ben Hurlbut, Spring semester (3)
  • BIO 610: "Introduction to Responsible Conduct of Research" with Karin Ellison, Fall semester (1)
  • BIO 611: "Advanced Topics in RCR" with Karin Ellison, Fall semester (1)
  • LAW/BIO 591: "Topic Nanotechnology" with Gary Marchant, offered on occasion (2)
  • LAW/BIO 598: "Topic: Neuroscience, Ethics & Law" with Jason Robert, offered upon occasion (2)
  • LAW/BIO 691: "Topic: Biotechnology: Science, Law and Policy" with Gary Marchant, offered upon occasion (3)
  • LAW/BIO 691: "Topic: Genetics and the Law" with Gary Marchant, offered upon occasion (3 credits)

Status: All School of Life Sciences courses are offered at least every other year.

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Movie night

We kick-off each semester with a movie night. Join us as we screen popular films with themes that relate to life science ethics, followed by a panel discussion that highlights faculty or graduate students whose work overlaps with the themes of the film.

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Bioethics breakfast club

Once each semester, we’ll meet over breakfast and coffee to talk about emerging issues in bioethics.  Faculty, graduate and undergraduate students from our school and across ASU will also discuss related research opportunities.

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Speakers and visiting school 

In this engaging seminar series, you'll have many opportunities to hear from local speakers and visiting scholars. Join us to learn about cutting-edge research and meet scientists who are working at the intersection of ethics and life sciences.

Contact information

Advisory board