Classrooms of the 21st Century
Teaching & Learning

How can bioethics be incorporated into biology curricula?

There are numerous methods that can be used to study bioethics, and numerous places in traditional biology curricula where bioethics fits. The following section offers some suggestions, but is not meant to be a comprehensive list.


  • Case studies: These can be obtained from resources such as newspapers, law journals or source books, or they can be fictional cases designed by the teacher. Students may work on small groups, or discuss the case as an entire class.

  • Debate: Choose a statement to be debated and assign students a side to argue. For example: "Resolved: genetic screening for the purposes of sex selection should not be permitted."

  • Panel Discussion: Identify the stakeholders in a particular issue and have students represent these roles as members of a panel. Other students question the panel about their views on the issue.

  • Role Play: In order to prevent students from feeling vulnerable about voicing their personal opinions, assign specific roles to students so that they are voicing the opinions of their assigned role.

  • Journal Article Writings: Have students write their thoughts down rather than voicing them in class.

  • Student-led Seminars: Small groups of students research a particular topic and then lead a one or two day class discussion. Depending on the magnitude of the topic, it may be necessary to spend one day teaching about the technology involved, and a second day exploring the ethical questions.

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