For the first time, students have the opportunity to learn and discuss issues surrounding identity, the human person, and bioethics during a conference sponsored by the World Youth Alliance.
The conference begins Friday in Phillips Auditorium and goes through Saturday afternoon. It is set to feature keynote speakers in bioethics and philosophy, along with six Hillsdale professors, speaking about identity in relation to technology and bioethics.
“The beauty of the conference is its interdisciplinary nature, and I think the tendency of our student body is for the humanities and the sciences to be somewhat distanced from each other,” said senior Lillian Quinones, a senior studying biology and one of the conference’s organizers. “The conference encourages a campus discussion that breaks down those barriers in the sense that questions of an are ethical nature are distinct of the times because of technological.”
The keynote speakers are experts in bioethics and philosophy.
Ashley K. Fernandes, the associate director of the center for bioethics and medical humanities at The Ohio State University College of Medicine and an associate professor of pediatrics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, will kick off the conference at 4 p.m. on Friday in the Heritage Room and end it at 3:15 p.m. on Saturday in Phillips Auditorium. His first talk is called “Peace Without Killing: Toward an End to Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia,” and his second is :
“‘Being,’ and ‘Being the Anvil’: Courage in An Age of Secularist Medicine.”
Tollefsen, professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina and senior fellow at the Witherspoon Institute, will give his keynote address at 7:30 p.m. on Friday on the “The Ethics of Medicine and Its Counterfeit.”
As one of the organizers of the conference, Quinones said she has desired to see Hillsdale professors weigh in on the issue of bioethics ever since she interned at the University of Virginia last summer.
“I became acutely aware of the relativism pervading the field of bioethics and its dangerous consequences, i.e. the majority of ethical dilemmas were reduced to the principle of individual autonomy,” Quinones said. “To have our professors give a robust defense of human dignity in the face of today’s technological hubris will be an incredible learning experience.”
Caitlin Weighner, a sophomore, is also one of the student organizers of the conference. She says one of the main focuses of the focuses of the conference is to get students to think about bioethics in a different way.
Weighner said some students might not be interested in the conference because they aren’t into science.
“But I think that says a lot about the way that bioethics is being presented currently,” Weighner said. “The way that it’s set now is it’s all about legal issues, it’s all about technological issues, and so we’re trying to reframe the question and say, ‘No, this is about being a human being.’”
Quinones said the conference gives students an opportunity to put their education into practice.
“I think the stress is showing how relevant our liberal arts education is and how useful it is to answer these questions,” Quinones said. “Studying philosophy is a guide for answering these questions, and it shows how ideas have consequences in everyday life.”
In addition to the World Youth Alliance; the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, a conservative educational nonprofit; and CanaVox, a pro-traditional marriage organization, the conference is supported by many on-campus organizations, including the Collegiate Scholars Program, the Omicron Delta Kappa leadership honorary, the Catholic Society, The Fairfield Society, the Pre-Professional Society, and Phi Alpha Theta history honorary, according to the conference’s pamphlets.
The organizers said they have reached out to Hope College, Spring Arbor University, and Notre Dame University about the event. Some alumni are also planning on attending.
The world youth alliance is encouraging students to register at the group’s table in the Grewcock Student Union during lunch or with the link on the event’s Facebook page. Walk-ins are also welcome.