IU Northwest observes UNESCO World Bioethics Day Oct. 16

IU Northwest observes UNESCO World Bioethics Day Oct. 16
By: Indiana University Northwest Last Updated: September 18, 2019

In observance of World Bioethics Day, Indiana University Northwest invites the campus and community to hear two presentations addressing topics relating to international peace and cooperation.

The lectures are scheduled for 1 to 2:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 16 in the John W. Anderson Library Conference Center, Room 105A.

Jonathyne Briggs, Ph.D., IU Northwest professor of history, will discuss “Enforcing Asylum: A Brief History of Institutionalization of the Disabled in the United States and France.”

The lecture will discuss the medical and legal framework that developed as a method of coercing disabled populations into asylums beginning in the 19th century. The mechanisms affected the understanding of rights for disabled people in both cases, and point to the areas of ethical concern about the forced incarceration of disabled groups. Recently, the revival of this practice has been suggested as a response to mass shootings in the United States making it a timely, urgent topic.

Briggs’ area of expertise is French popular music, contemporary French history and the history of autism. He has published extensively on French popular music, including the book, “Sounds French: Globalization, Cultural Communities, and Pop Music, 1958-1980” (Oxford University Press). Briggs is currently working on a history of politics of autism in France since 1960.

Kate Gustafson, Ph.D., IU Northwest professor of English, will discuss “Dax Cowart: A Humanist’s Perspective on Consent.”

The lecture will address how humanistic research can inform the debate about medical consent highlighted through the case of Dax Cowert. A well-known example in bioethical curricula, Cowart’s physicians denied his multiple requests to terminate treatment for extensive burns resulting from a propane explosion. As Gustafson will discuss, it is difficult to extrapolate ethical conclusions from this case, both because of how narratives about Cowert are structured, and because of the historical context of the case itself. 

Gustafson’s research focuses on the history of childhood, adolescence, and literature in 18th century Britain. She has published articles on the rise of young adult literature, the history of child labor and disability in 18th century Britain, and the role of humanistic study in undergraduate health education. She is currently finishing a book about the relationship between 18th century British fiction and the rise of the modern adolescent.  

World Bioethics Day

Observed throughout the world on October 19, World Bioethics Day marks the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights by the 33rd Session of the General Conference of UNESCO on October 19, 2005. This is the fourth year IU Northwest has hosted events in recognition of this international observance and brought nationally recognized speakers to the region.

For more information, contact Susan Zinner at 219-980-6836 or szinner@iun.edu.