Name: Darcy Wilson
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Headed into college, there were two things that I knew that I wanted. First, I wanted to major in Biology with the goal of eventually pursuing a career in Sports Medicine. Second, as much as I love science, I didn’t want to spend my entire college career focusing on nothing but reactions, proteins, and equations. The second I stepped foot on the Hopkins campus, I began to look for programs that would both compliment my love for science and help broaden the scope of my knowledge.
Luckily, I quickly found the Bioethics minor. The summer before coming to Hopkins, having no idea with what I should fill my class schedule, I decided to throw an Intro to Bioethics course in the pot just to see what would happen. I certainly had no inclination to pursue the field any further. But, as you may have guessed, I loved it! Based around lectures about major philosophical thinkers and the common ethical problems currently facing the medical world along with weekly discussions on readings (mostly in the forms of case studies), the course gave me the opportunity to puzzle over some of the major issues facing the fields about which I am so passionate. I felt a minor in the department would be an excellent way to both prepare for my future career and allow me to learn about the things I love in a new way. Though this is the only class in the minor I have been able to take thus far, I am confident that I will continue to enjoy the subject as I venture further in.
The requirements for the minor are relatively simple and compliment the Biology major at Hopkins very well, making it even easier to take on. Bioethics-related required courses include Bioethics, Intro to Moral Philosophy, two upper level bioethics seminars of your choice, along with two additional bioethics or related seminars. Finally, minors must complete one of the following sequences of courses: General Biology I and II, Biochemistry and Cell Biology, or Physiological Foundations for Biomedical Engineering I and II. The first two of these three sequences are required for the Biology major as well!
In addition to the work done inside the classroom, Hopkins also has extracurricular opportunities for the study and discussion of intriguing bioethical topics. Most importantly, the student-run JHU Bioethics Society (advised by Professor Hilary Bok, core faculty member of the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Hopkins and the professor of my Intro to Bioethics course) “provides students with opportunities to foster a better understanding of ethics in science, medicine and technology” and “sponsors events such as a speaker series, video presentations, and roundtable discussions.” The group also sponsors some of its members to attend the SPUSA national conference on ethics as delegates from Hopkins each year.
Especially since Hopkins sits at the frontline of major biological and medical research and innovation as these fields rapidly change and expand, the chance to both learn about and discuss the ever lengthening list of issues facing the fields is both exciting and inspiring. I absolutely love how the bioethics minor gives me the ability to think about very complex ethical and philosophical problems that are extremely relevant. I can’t wait to see how my understanding of these issues enriches my medical studies!
To further your exploration of this academic program and ask any question you may have of current students, be sure to visit the Hopkins Forums’ Academics: The Insider Perspective as well as Bioethics question thread.