Bioethics and Medical Humanities

Bioethics and Medical Humanities Minor
Should we use medical science to enhance our mental or physical performance? Where does therapy end and enhancement begin? Do we have a right to choose the time and means of our own death—and should medical personnel be permitted to assist us? Do we have a right to health care? Should governments try to influence our food choices in order to promote public health, and counter the influence of advertising and marketing by food companies? What can we learn from the COVID-19 pandemic about addressing systemic racism and structural injustice? These are the kinds of questions we explore in bioethics using philosophy, art, fiction, film, and more.
Degree Types: Minor

About the Program

You might like this program if…

  • You are interested in health care ethics, food ethics, and environmental ethics.
  • You want fresh perspectives on ethical issues, new and old—from the genetic modification of our food to the genetic modification of ourselves!
  • You want to be part of animated discussions about pressing issues that affect humanity.
  • You are studying philosophy, gender and sexuality, public or global health, health administration, anthropology, biobehavioral health, nursing, health communication, etc.
  • You are premed or prelaw; or, you intend to pursue a career in medicine, law, health care, public health, veterinary science, biological sciences, environmental sciences, bioinformatics, or public policy—among many other areas.


  • Bioethics
  • Medical and Health Care Ethics
  • Health Communication
  • Deaf Culture
  • Contemporary Issues in Science and Medicine

Have questions about this program?

Future students, contact Chantel Harley.

Current students, contact your academic adviser

This program is housed in the Bioethics Program
 at Penn State University Park.
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Rock Ethics Institute research associate Yael Warshel is poised to receive a book award at the International Communication Association’s annual meeting for her pioneering work in the book “Experiencing the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Children, Peace Communication, and Socialization.” Her book, a critical examination of peace communication interventions and their effects on children in conflict zones, has received international acclaim, with this being the book’s second major accolade.

Penn State University Libraries’ Open Publishing program recently launched a new Open Access monograph. “The Future of Foster Care: New Science on Old Problems,” edited by Yo Jackson and Sarah Font, is a collection of expanded conference proceedings from the 2019 conference of the Child Maltreatment Solutions Network, a national leader in research designed to influence public policy that better protects vulnerable children from abuse.

P. Gabrielle Foreman, Paterno Family Professor of American Literature and professor of African American studies and history at Penn State and a 2023 MacArthur Fellow, embarked on a decade-long creative endeavor that culminated in her recently released edited volume, “Praise Songs for Dave the Potter: Art and Poetry for David Drake.”

WPSU uncovers the stories that unveil the triumph, grit, caution and legend that make up the history of the commonwealth in a new digital series titled “Past PA.”

Janet van Hell, a longtime Penn State faculty member in the College of the Liberal Arts’ Department of Psychology and director of the Center for Language Science, was recently promoted to distinguished professor of psychology and linguistics.

Liberal Arts Professor of English and Asian Studies Xiaoye You’s new book on rhetoric in early imperial China offers insights into how ancient rulers built and maintained an empire, and what that may reveal about contemporary issues.

Nearly 100 Centre County high school students visited Penn State’s University Park campus on April 12 to participate in the fourth annual Language and Linguistics Day hosted by Penn State’s Center for Language Science.

The Penn State Consortium on Substance Use and Addiction recently hosted its fourth annual conference in the HUB-Robeson Center at the University Park campus. 

An interdisciplinary team of Penn State researchers have received a $442,750 grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, to support a multi-faceted, three-part study that observes how gay and bisexual men search and find HIV prevention information — specifically information about pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, a medicine that when taken as prescribed, is very effective at preventing HIV.

Two Penn State professors — one in history and the other in art history and anthropology — have collaborated on a three-pronged project that will spark conversation and awe about the art, culture, science and history of Andean peoples.