This is the last session of the Bioethics Commission’s twenty-third meeting. During this session, Members discussed what to recommend at the intersection of deliberation and education. In previous meetings, the Bioethics Commission has heard from experts in education that using deliberation as an educational tool builds the skills that will help students become informed and active participants in their communities. Bioethics education can be an important forum for introducing deliberative methods into diverse educational settings. Commission Members also heard from organizers of and participants in deliberative activities about the important educational function of these activities, which foster a more informed and engaged public. The mutually reinforcing functions of deliberation and ethics education create a virtuous circle, as deliberation facilitates education, and bioethics education builds skills of deliberation.
Members discussed two potential recommendations during this session. First, developments in health, science, and technology, some of which the Bioethics Commission has considered during its tenure, raise significant bioethical questions that need robust and informed public discussion and deliberation. Individuals involved in education and deliberation should use the tools in both of these domains to facilitate greater public engagement with these questions. Ultimately, Members agreed that this recommendation would be an important contribution to the fields of education and to bioethics and policy making.
Second, national bioethics commissions have an important role to play in supporting public bioethics education and contributing to national discourse and deliberations on health, science, and technology policy. Members proposed that future bioethics commissions and other bioethics organizations should continue to explore and advance their educational and democratic role, and should develop and promote accessible educational tools to enable teachers at all levels to integrate deliberation and bioethics education into their classrooms. Members agreed that this would be a valuable send-off to help guide future national bioethics commissions in their work.
The Commission is scheduled to meet again on March 3, 2016 in Atlanta, G.A. For details, go to www.bioethics.gov.