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Vulnerability in Childhood -- from Ethics to Advocacy

East Baltimore
3rd Term
Berman Institute (Bioethics)
Academic Year
2023 - 2024
Instruction Method
Class Time(s)
Friday, 1:30 - 4:20pm
Auditors Allowed
Yes, with instructor consent
Available to Undergraduate
Grading Restriction
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Contact Name
Frequency Schedule
Every Year
Have you ever wondered what makes a population vulnerable and how that vulnerability impacts their well-being? We have all come across vulnerable populations of children in our community or heard about them in the media-- children removed from their parents at the border, children with severe disability, children in foster care, children living in poverty. But what do we really know about these children, the ethical challenges they face, and how to advocate for them?
Introduces students to the concept of vulnerability from an interdisciplinary lens of ethics, philosophy, medicine, and public health. Discusses how special protections for vulnerable populations can impact research and clinical care at the individual and population level. Presents examples of vulnerable populations of children (eg. children with medical complexity, children in foster care, transgender youth) in order to illustrate relevant ethical challenges faced by vulnerable populations. Introduces students to various advocacy skills and tools to use when advocating for vulnerable children (eg. op-ed, letter to the editor, testimony, coalition building).
Learning Objectives
Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  1. Explain the concept of vulnerability from an ethics perspective
  2. Recognize the special protections that relate to vulnerable populations
  3. Examine the barriers to research and clinical care for vulnerable populations of children
  4. Evaluate the ethical issues faced by different subpopulations of vulnerable children
  5. Create written media in order to advocate for vulnerable populations
Methods of Assessment
This course is evaluated as follows:
  • 25% Participation
  • 10% Discussion Board
  • 5% Assignments
  • 20% Midterm Paper
  • 25% Final Paper
  • 15% Group Presentation
Enrollment Restriction
Priority enrollment given to MBE students. No undergraduates permitted to enroll.