World Youth Alliance to Hold Con­ference. | Facebook

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.