The Bioethics Bugle: Review of Yale’s Summer Institute in Bioethics

Feb 26, 2018  Review: Sherwin B. Nuland Summer Institute in Bioethics
Jordan Parsons

For anyone with an interest in, or even vague curiosity about, the field of bioethics, this programme is truly incredible! Not only do you benefit from world class teaching and guidance, but you meet such a diverse group of fellow students, which makes for the best discussions in a field as interdisciplinary as bioethics.

When I applied, I really had no idea what to expect. I would be lying if I didn’t admit the fact I would be studying at Yale was a major factor in my decision to apply! I was also quite nervous when I arrived in New Haven, as it was my first time in America and I knew no one else on the programme. However, from the day I went to collect my ID and get a tour of the campus, I knew I had made the right choice. In fact, one of the first people I spoke to is now a close friend.

Morning lectures are given by experts. Lori (the mastermind behind everything) manages to get people from all corners of the earth to come and teach, meaning you are not stuck with the same lecturer teaching everything. It also means you can ask some very hard questions and not be told “I’m not sure”, which allows you to learn so much!

The faculty taking afternoon seminars is equally diverse, and they are all so dedicated to the programme (many of them having completed it themselves in the past). Whilst they all have different approaches, all encourage students to participate as much as possible; if a particularly interesting debate starts they just let it happen, giving you the opportunity to examine ideas in real depth.

The sheer range of seminar options is another reason to choose this programme. From an extensive list of options, you can choose up to 8, and given the number of contact hours this means you get both depth and breadth! Having so many options also means you can try something new; I had never even thought about neuroethics before I went, but have now incorporated aspects of what I learned about the topic into my own research.

Another great thing about this programme is the trips you go on. There are some to places in New Haven itself, such as the fascinating Cushing Brain Collection, as well as some further afield. The Hastings Center trip was particularly useful, as there was a talk from the editors of the Hastings Center Report giving advice for those looking to publish their first article.

As good as everything I have mentioned is, the one thing that really makes this programme is the people. I made some amazing friends from all around the world, and have already met up with some of them since. You will also find that alumni of the programme are at conferences you attend, so I have even met participants from previous years. The network this programme builds is incredible, and you will feel so welcome straight away.

You may be wondering what the bad points are, as I have only spoken positively about my experience. The truth is, at least from my point of view, there are no bad points! I had an incredibly time and have not once regretted it. The only bad thing was having to leave; you get so used to New Haven and the other students that you don’t want to leave!

Jordan Parsons
Founder of The Bioethics Bugle, Jordan has a keen interest in the field. After completing his BA in Politics at Durham University, he attended Yale University’s Sherwin B. Nuland Summer Institute in Bioethics. He currently writes for Hodder Education on issues in medical law, and also campaigns for organ donation awareness with Save9Lives. The latter is one of Jordan’s main areas of research, and he has written on various aspects of organ donation and transplantation. His current research is on personal responsibility in sexual health, and he can be found presenting this at a number of conferences in 2018.