Religion, Health & Human Values: Departmental Overview

The Department of Religion, Health, and Human Values offers the Master of Arts degree, major in Healthcare Ethics, and a Certificate of Graduate Study in Healthcare Ethics. In addition, the department provides courses and resources addressing a variety of topics including death and dying, narrative in health care, suffering, etc. The Department maintains an active program of research into the relationship between spirituality/religion and health. It also maintains a strong program of Clinical Pastoral Education.

Master of Arts, major in HealthCare Ethics
While caring for the sick is an ancient ethical responsibility, its commitments must be met new each day. Each generation of health care practitioners must traverse the threshold separating the ethics of ordinary life from the ethics of treating and caring. Practitioners learn to negotiate their way among professional standards, institutional and public policies, the demands and needs of patients/families/clinicians, and their own personal moral standards. Some generations must address new ethical quandaries created by medical science and technology, pressures to lower spending, new delivery organizations, and by clinicians' ordinary struggles with their humanity. The ethical mandates to avoid harm, do good, honor the dignity and freedom of the person, and seek justice are always present. The Master of Arts, major in Healthcare Ethics, is a powerful resource for health care professionals to strengthen and deepen their understanding of health care ethics in today's scientific, technological, organizational, economic and spiritual contexts.

Objectives of the Master of Arts, major in Healthcare Ethics
The Master of Arts degree with a major in Healthcare Ethics prepares graduates to:

  • Provide ethical analysis of cases
  • Provide ethical commentary during rounds and conferences
  • Recommend ethically appropriate clinical or administrative interventions
  • Provide healthcare ethics education
  • Develop or revise policies related to healthcare ethics
  • Explore the impact of values and the influence of social/environmental contexts on delivery of healthcare
  • Provide informed public comment about current healthcare issues
  • Identify and pursue issues that require formal research

Program Focus and Content
Because the Department believes that ethical responsibility has to be understood in context, the program features courses in three core areas:

  • Contexts (Health policy, healthcare organizations, health law)
  • Foundations (Healthcare ethics, research, and counseling)
  • Application (Practica, ethics consultation, and thesis)