bioethics symposium

CPL’s Inaugural Bioethics Symposium

“Conscience in the Culture & in the Professions” 

 “Moral authority doesn’t develop spontaneously; it must be earned. Arthur Koestler… once asked, ‘Can a conscience function by proxy?’ The answer is no, it cannot. You must take action yourself, even if it is a small, modest action. You cannot pass it off to someone else. You build the authority by doing it; you do not wait for someone to give you permission.”

– Elie Wiesel

In June 2022, we brought together 15 of Canada’s most promising law and medical students for an inaugural bioethics symposium in our nation’s capital. 

The symposium explored assigned interdisciplinary readings on conscience in order to form participants in the intellectual tradition related to conscience. The aim of humanistic study over an intentionally convivial weekend will be to enhance participants’ moral impact in both personal and professional life. 

Participants benefited from the insights of others in the cohort as well as from discussions with renowned faculty from Canada, the UK, and the USA.

Our CPL bioethics symposia provide an opportunity for you to encounter friends and mentors who share your fundamental convictions about the importance of conscience to upholding and advancing human dignity and human rights.

The Curriculum

The bioethics symposium consists of text-based seminar discussions. A packet of selected readings containing a compilation of excerpts was provided to all selected participants. The readings expose participants to various thinkers in the philosophical tradition of conscience, such as: Thomas More, Vaclav Havel, Alfred Delp, Hannah Arendt, Abraham Joshua Heschel, James Baldwin, Ursula le Guin, and Richard Rubinstein.

We will discuss such themes as:

– how persons become ethically callous
– how persons become ethically alert
– how a person’s conscience may be rightly formed
– how a person’s conscience can be malformed and thus more susceptible to manipulation
– the way in which conscience is connected to agency
– the threats of utilitarianism, bureaucratization, and ideology to the right exercise of conscience
– the role of conscience in advancing healthily pluralistic societies
– what we can learn from ethical exemplars about living our own personal and professional lives in truth
– and, what we can learn from the latest practical controversies surrounding matters of conscience in Canada

Participants will also explore short excerpts from briefs submitted to parliamentary committees, press conference remarks, legal proceedings, and witness testimony surrounding the bioethical issues of our time in Canada. 

Meet the Faculty

Kristin Collier, MD, FACP is an assistant professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor Michigan where she serves as the director of the University of Michigan Medical School Program on Health, Spirituality and Religion. She also serves as an associate program director of the Internal Medicine Residency Training Program where she oversees the primary care track. She received her medical degree from the University of Michigan Medical School and completed her internship, residency and chief residency at The University of Michigan Hospitals. Her academic interests are in the overlap of spirituality, religion and medicine and her peer reviewed work has been published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the Annals of Internal Medicine, The Journal of General Internal Medicine, the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and she also has had writings published in Notre Dame’s Church Life Journal, Theopolis and America Magazine. She is also the proud mother of four boys.

Dr Calum Miller graduated from the University of Oxford Medical School in 2015, and currently works as a medical doctor in the UK. He is currently also a Research Associate at the University of Oxford, where his research focuses on abortion ethics and policy.

Dr Miller has given over 40 academic presentations internationally, and taken part in debates against senior academics and the CEO of the UK’s largest private abortion provider, BPAS. He has published on a wide range of topics, in particular relating to abortion, and has received prizes from the University of Oxford and the Royal College of Psychiatrists for his work on Bioethics.

Dr Miller regularly appears on mainstream media in the UK to defend the pro-life position, and has spoken to a wide variety of professional audiences internationally. He is currently working on two books on the topic of abortion.

Dr. Quentin Genuis is an Emergency Physician in Vancouver. He holds a Master of Letters from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, with a research focus in bioethics. His research interests include virtue ethics, the place of autonomy language in contemporary bioethics, human dignity, end-of-life care, and compassion.

He enjoys hot sauce; he likes Russian novels; he loves his wife and three children: Lila, Rowan, and Elias. When he is not wearing scrubs while working in the Emergency Department or wearing sweatpants while writing in his basement, he is probably at the playground with them.