Life Science Ethics Program

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Ethics Education in the Life Sciences

ASU School of Life Sciences faculty, students and staff frequently engage in the ethical dimensions of research and innovation. That’s why our school, in partnership with the ASU Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics, has created the School of Life Sciences Ethics Initiative.

By taking existing ethics education and research from within the school and growing it into a full-fledged program that spans both undergraduate and graduate programs, the ethics initiative offers students a unique opportunity to explore new ideas.

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

Co-curricular activities


By bringing in outside speakers, faculty and students have opportunities to learn about cutting-edge research and meet people who are working at the intersection of ethics and life sciences.

Current distinguished scholar in residence: Diane B. Paul, Professor Emerita, University of Massachusetts, Boston. Beginning Feb. 2016.

Bioethics Breakfast Club

This monthly meeting encourages faculty and graduate students from across ASU to discuss emerging issues in bioethics and related research opportunities.

Undergraduate Education

Freshman experience

BIO 189 Life Sciences Career Paths: each fall semester, students in this class will view and discuss a movie that illustrates ethical and social dimensions of biology in an attempt to identify ethical issues in the life sciences.


BIO 181, 182, 281 and 282: students taking general biology I/II and conceptual approaches to biology for majors I/II will complete 4-6 ethics mini-modules in each course to learn how to describe major ethical controversies.


Upper division undergraduate courses: large enrollment courses have a handful of standard assignments that include attention to ethical issues. This will help students recognize and respond to ethical issues that arise during life science research and practice.

Labs and train-the-trainers initiatives

Ethics labs provide an opportunity for undergraduate students to engage in ethics issues related to life sciences in depth, but remain in the context of natural science courses.

Graduate Student Involvement

Graduate students with ethics lab fellowships teach labs while also participating in a workshop series on teaching ethics. This will help them develop their own “lab” section under the guidance of the Life Science Ethics Initiatives director in the fall. In the spring, they teach it.

The workshop series is open to graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty in the school.


Undergraduate Courses

Undergraduate Courses

Traditional undergraduate entrance to applied ethics.

BIO 312: "Bioethics" with Ben Hurlbut, Spring semester (3 credits)

BIO 394: "Discussing Bioethics" with Ben Hurlbut, Spring semester (1 credit)

BIO 318/HPS 331: "History of Medicine" with Ben Hurlbut and Jane Maienschein, every other Fall semester (3 credits)

BIO 324: "Environental Ethics" with Ben Minteer, Fall semester (3 credits)

BIO 416/HPS 410: "Biomedical Research Ethics" with Karin Ellison and senior graduate students, every Spring semester (3 credits)

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 credits)

BIO 591: "Topic: Environmental Ethics & Policy Goals" with Ben Minteer, Spring semester (3 credits)

BIO 598: "Topic: Advanced Topics in Bioethics" with Ben Hurlbut, Spring semester (3 credits)

BIO 610: "Introduction to Responsible Conduct of Research" with Karin Ellison, Fall semester (1 credit)

BIO 611: "Advanced Topics in RCR" with Karin Ellison, Fall semeser (1 credit)

LAW/BIO 591: "Topic Nanotechnology" with Gary Marchant, offered upon occasion (2 credits)

LAW/BIO 598: "Topic: Neuroscience, Ethics & Law" with Jason Robert, offered upon occasion (2 credits)

LAW/BIO 691: "Topic: Biotechnology: Science, Law and Policy" with Gary Marchant, offered upon occasion (3 credits)

LAW/BIO 691: "Topic: Genetics and the Law" with Gary Marchant, offered upon occasion (3 credits)

Status: All SOLS courses are offered at least every other year