Medical ethics and bioethics have been major emphases for the Ethics Center since it was founded.
The center’s efforts in medical ethics and bioethics were initially led by the late Dr. Shirley Bach, Associate Director and Professor Emerita of Philosophy. Bach worked closely with the local medical community for many years, developing ethics programming and providing expert consultation. She supported the work of the Ethics Center in sponsoring biomedical ethics speakers and programs. She established two endowments to support bioethics speakers and programming.
More recently, the center has helped sponsor the interdisciplinary WMU Medical Humanities Workgroup, co-founded by advisory board member Dr. Fritz Allhoff and former staff member David Charlton. The workgroup explores ethics and other humanistic dimensions of medicine through an annual conference and other activities. Allhoff, Charlton and others connected to the center also helped develop curricular content for the successful accreditation application of the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine.
The center has sponsored bioethics speakers on campus and at national conferences by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics and the Society for Ethics Across the Curriculum. The center held a bioethics conference at Western Michigan University in recognition of its 30th anniversary in 2015 and a mini-conference on ethics and medical error in Chicago in 2018. Five of the submissions were published as a symposium on medical error in the International Journal of Applied Philosophy (Vol. 32, No. 2). A forthcoming book, co-edited by Dr. Allhoff and center Director Dr. Sandra L. Borden, grew out of the mini-conference. Ethics and Error in Medicine will be published by Routledge in 2019.