Category Archives: Contemporary Ethical Issues

Dr. Anthony Fauci discusses the HIV rebound in the Mississippi baby and importance of HIV research ethics

Photo via dem10/iStockphoto.com

Photo via dem10/iStockphoto.com

The Friday, July 11th episode of the PBS News Hour featured a presentation on the young child from Mississippi who had been treated with early and unusually aggressive drug treatment after birth and then was seemingly virus-free for two years.

However, official just announced that the girl, now almost 4 years old, tested positive for HIV during a follow-up appointment last week. When asked about the trial that was to begin, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases emphasized the need to be ethical in the design of the study.

Please visit the PBS News Hour website for a video and full transcript of the program.

Issues of Research Ethics in the Facebook ‘Mood Manipulation’ Study: The Importance of Multiple Perspectives

 

By: Michelle Broaddus, Ph.D.

A new study using Facebook data to study “emotional contagion,” and the ensuing backlash of its publication offers the opportunity to examine several ethical principles in research. One of the pillars of ethically conducted research is balancing the risks to the individual participants against the potential benefits to society or scientific knowledge. While the study’s effects were quite small, the authors argue that “given the massive scale of social networks such as Facebook, even small effects can have large aggregated consequences.” However, participants were not allowed to give informed consent, which constitutes a risk of the research and the major source of the backlash.

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Issues of Research Ethics in the Facebook ‘Mood Manipulation’ Study: The Importance of Multiple Perspectives (full text)

 

By: Michelle Broaddus, Ph.D.

A recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describes a mood manipulation experiment conducted by Facebook scientists during one week in 2012 that suggests evidence of “emotional contagion,” or the spread of positive and negative affect between people. The backlash to this publication has been significant. As two examples, Slate.com published a piece entitled “Facebook’s Unethical Experiment: It intentionally manipulated users’ emotions without their knowledge” and The Atlantic’s piece, “Even the Editor of Facebook’s Mood Study Thought It Was Creepy.”

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Center for Ethics Education Hosts Conference on the Value of Liberal Arts Education

The panel addresses the value of liberal arts education.

The panel addresses the value of liberal arts education. Photo by Bruce Gilbert

What is the value of a liberal arts education, and what place does it have in America’s future? An interdisciplinary conference sponsored by the Fordham University Center for Ethics Education on April 28 addressed these issues, and featured presentations from several leading liberal arts scholars, including Acting Under Secretary of Education, Jamienne Studley.

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Humanitarian intervention: what are the ethical challenges facing aid workers, and how should they be addressed?

Dr. Ramin Asgary, M.D., M.P.H.

Ramin Asgary, M.D., M.P.H.

By: Elizabeth Yuko, Ph.D.

Recent natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti, and the tsunami in Southeast Asia and the Arab Spring resulted in an increase in short-term medical volunteerism. This type of medical practice raises many ethical issues for both the medical practitioners and their institutions. Dr. Ramin Asgary, Assistant Professor in New York University’s Department of Medicine, has experienced these ethical issues from two perspectives: as a physician working abroad in humanitarian settings, and as an academic examining the ethics of short-term medical volunteerism, and aid workers in general.

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Clinical trials can & should be designed to include people with disabilities

Clinical trials tend to exclude vulnerable populations, such as people with disabilities. Speaking to Joshua Howgego of SciDev.net, Dr. Celia B. Fisher, Director of the Center for Ethics Education, explained that clinical trials can — and should — be designed to include people with disabilities.

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Dr. Celia B. Fisher Featured on Al Jazeera Documentary Discussing Psychological Effects & Ethics of NSA Surveillance

Dr. Celia B. Fisher, psychologist and ethics expert appeared on the Al Jazeera America program Fault Lines. Photo by Bud Glick.

Dr. Celia B. Fisher, psychologist and ethics expert appeared on the Al Jazeera America program Fault Lines. Photo by Bud Glick.

What are the psychological effects of surveillance? Center for Ethics Education Director Dr. Celia B. Fisher discussed this, as well as the ethical implications of surveillance on Fault Lines, a program on Al Jazeera America.

Collect it All: America’s Surveillance State aired on Friday and Saturday nights, and will be shown internationally on Al Jazeera English on Wednesday, November 6th at 6:30 p.m. E.S.T.

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Fighting Stigma with Knowledge: RETI Fellow Brandon Brown Focuses on Peru

Dr. Brandon Brown

Dr. Brandon Brown

By: Elizabeth Yuko, Ph.D.

A new video from the University of California Irvine attempts to decrease the stigma attached to HIV through the personal stories of those affected by HIV/AIDS in Peru. Focusing on the only gay men’s health community center in Peru (Epicentro), the video features the work of Dr. Brandon Brown, the director of the Global Health Research Education and Translation (GHREAT) Initiative in the Program in Public Health at UC Irvine and a Fordham University HIV Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute (RETI) fellow.

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The Scientist-Citizen Dilemma and Moral Stress

Many of the ethical challenges faced by researchers conducting community-based studies with persons addicted to street drugs can be understood in terms of the “scientist-citizen dilemma.” This dilemma arises when researcher’s ethical obligation to produce scientifically valid knowledge conflicts with their sense of moral responsibility to help participants living in poverty with little access to treatment.

Frontline research staff engaged in the practical process of moral agency who encounter such dilemmas on a daily basis often experience moral stress when they cannot actualize these dual values via their work. Such stress may lead them to take actions that while assisting research participants in need jeopardize the validity of the study conducted.  In a recent article, Dr. Celia B. Fisher and her colleagues examined the consequences of moral stress among drug use community researchers and the organizational climates that can reduce or exacerbate these moral conflicts.

To read the full article, please see:

Fisher, C. B., True, G., Alexander, L., & Fried, A. L. (2013). Moral stress, moral practice, and ethical climate in community-based drug-use research: Views from the front line. AJOB Primary Research4(3), 27-38.

For the Love of Animals: Fordham Professor Examines Christian Ethics and the Treatment of Animals in New Book

For-love-of-animals

About 10 years ago, Charles Camosy decided to give up eating meat. Camosy, an assistant professor of Christian Ethics at Fordham University, believed that this change in diet was necessary in order to be authentically and consistently Christian and pro-life.

In his new book, For the Love of Animals: Christian Ethics, Consistent Action, Camosy makes the argument that Christian ethics and doctrine require the moral treatment of animals, and are therefore incompatible with the consumption of meat. Using history and scripture, Camosy discusses the roots of this Christian belief, before examining how these ideas translate into everyday life. He asks questions regarding whether Christians should eat meat, and what sort of medical research on animals can be justified, in addition to considering the ethics of pet ownership and hunting.

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Using Theatre to Promote Social Justice and Inspire Transformative Action

TONYC photo

Members of the Theatre of the Oppressed NYC at a performance.

By: Elizabeth Yuko, Ph.D.

The most powerful art can do more than entertain us: it can also inform, engage, and challenge our points of view. The Theatre of the Oppressed NYC aims to do all four.

The Theatre of the Oppressed NYC (TONYC) was founded in November 2010 by Katy Rubin, when, upon returning to New York City from Brazil, she discovered a lack of “popular theatre” — interactive theatre created by communities facing oppression — in the city.

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Creating LGBTQ Inclusive Curriculum and Classroom Climate

On October 2, 2013, the Fordham University Center for Ethics Education hosted a discussion with faculty and teaching fellows across a broad array of disciplines on creating LGBTQ inclusive curricula and welcoming classroom experiences.

The discussion included brief presentations by Fordham faculty from different departments and honest discussion illuminating opportunities for and challenges of creating LGBTQ curricula and welcoming classroom climate.

list of recommendations and teaching resources emerged from this very fruitful interdisciplinary dialogue. Some of the recommendations include challenging heterosexist assumptions, developing inclusive (rather than “us versus them”) terminology, and increasing visibility of LGBTQ role models and allies.

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Can a racist grandfather raise a biracial child? ‘The Root’ asks Dr. Celia B. Fisher to weigh in

Can a racist grandfather raise a biracial child?

A reader of The Root — a website that bills itself as a source for “Black News, Opinion, Politics and Culture” — wrote in seeking advice on what to do about his father, who, along with his mother, is raising his biracial niece. While he notes that his father is a great father and grandfather, he also tends to make racist comments around his niece, which he believes she is picking up on.

Fordham University Center for Ethics Education Director Dr. Celia B. Fisher was quoted in the article, saying that negative racial stereotypes cause harm through “micro aggressions.” Fisher defines micro aggressions as “the everyday racially insulting and demeaning language and actions that white people may not be aware they are inflicting.” She is concerned that this will lead to feelings of anxiety, low self-esteem and a sense of personal inferiority that will affect the writer’s niece in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.

To read the rest of the article, please click here.

To read a piece by CNN on the adoption of African American children by families in the Netherlands, please click here.

Project THANKS: Turning HIV/AIDS into New Knowledge for Sisters

By: Elizabeth Yuko, Ph.D.

Many people with HIV/AIDS are living with not just one, but two or more chronic diseases. While cures to the diseases may not yet exist, there are ways to help people manage and improve their health and well-being.

Project THANKS is helping people – particularly, women of color – do just that.

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HIV Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute Fellow Examines HIV Testing in Appalachia

Dr. Tania Basta

Dr. Tania Basta

By: Elizabeth Yuko, Ph.D.

Appalachia is home to more than 20 million people, yet researchers often overlook the area. Dr. Tania Basta is trying to change that.

Basta is a Fordham University HIV Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute (RETI) Fellow, and is working on a mentored research project on HIV testing in rural Appalachia. She was recently honored with the American Public Health Association’s (APHA) Excellence in Abstract Submission Award for her abstract entitled “Factors influencing HIV testing among individuals living in rural Appalachia.” She will present her research at the APHA’s annual meeting in Boston in November.

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HIV Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute Fellow Publishes Study on HIV Testing and Facebook

Dr. Sean D. Young, a 2013 Fordham University Research Ethics Training Institute Fellow

While Facebook may be used primarily to reconnect with old friends and share vacation photos, a recent study suggests that it  may also be an important tool in HIV prevention.

A new study by Fordham University HIV Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute Fellow Dr. Sean D. Young of UCLA found that using social media and online communities not only leads to increased HIV testing and encourages significant behavior change among high risk groups, but also turns out to be one of the best HIV-prevention and testing approaches on the Internet.

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Using Your Moral Compass to Navigate the College Experience

On August 26, 2013, Dr. Adam Fried, Assistant Director of the Center for Ethics Education, gave the following address at the Academic Convocation for the Fordham College at Rose Hill Class of 2017. Dr. Fried was asked to speak on behalf of all members of faculty, and to welcome the new class to the Fordham University academic community. In case you were unable to attend, here is a transcript of the address:

Using Your Moral Compass to Navigate the College Experience

By: Adam Fried, Ph.D., Assistant Director, Center for Ethics Education

Thank you, Dean Parmach.  Welcome students!  I’m so honored and excited to have an opportunity to speak with you today.

First, let me tell you a little about what I do.  I’m the assistant director of the Fordham Center for Ethics Education.  We organize conferences and lectures, conduct research, administer an undergraduate essay prize in ethics, and offer a Master’s in Ethics and Society and an undergraduate interdisciplinary minor in bioethics. Our programs provide the Fordham community and the public with the knowledge and skills to shape a just society. At Fordham, I teach and my work centers on ethics.  But I am also a clinical psychologist and I have worked with veterans, college students and at-risk children and adolescents.  Although these two areas, ethics and psychology, may seem quite different, there is in fact a great deal of overlap.

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Advance Directives for Research Involving Adults with Advancing Dementia

By Celia B. Fisher, Ph.D.

As advance directives for health care have become increasingly accepted in society, some have suggested that similar directives by those with advancing cognitive impairment can enhance substitute decision-making for research participation once an individual’s mental capacity has been compromised.

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Santander Scholarship Recipient Dr. Stella Njuguna examines post-trial access to Truvada among HIV-I discordant couples in Kenya

Dr. Stella Njuguna, a 2013 recipient of the Santander Universities International Scholarship

Dr. Stella Njuguna is a Research Officer at Kenya Medical Research Institute

Recent trials have indicated that the drug Truvada® is effective in preventing the acquisition of HIV.  However, the participants of one such trial consisting of serodiscordant couples conducted in Kisumu, Kenya, do not have post trial access (PTA) to Truvada®. Who is responsible for post-trial access for the participants?

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Shifting Sands: Absolutism to Relativism in Irish Medical Ethics

By Adam McAuley, Ph.D.

On Thursday, June 13th, the Irish government published its Abortion Bill to regulate the extremely limited circumstances under which an abortion is lawful in Ireland. The Bill’s conscientious objection provision reflects the limited development of ethical thought, debate and education in Ireland.

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