Student Studies Bioethics at Yale Summer Program
Junior philosophy major Matthew Weatherford is the first University of St. Thomas student to be accepted into the coveted Yale University's Summer Institute in Bioethics . Studying with elite scholars, students and professionals for eight weeks, Weatherford will engage in intellectual debates, mini-conferences and social events that foster collaboration on bioethics.
“I will have the unique opportunity to take morning classes and afternoon seminars with some of the greatest minds in bioethics,” Weatherford said. “It's interdisciplinary with different majors and experience levels. We'll discuss centuries-old issues and cutting-edge medical advances from the 21 st century.”
Weatherford, who is finishing both his bachelor's and master's in philosophy at UST, is among the 50 other students accepted from around the world to this prestigious program. Participants include undergraduates, graduates, law students, medical students and doctoral candidates. Weatherford looks forward to the dialogue that will help participants fill in the gaps on of bioethics issues.
“The medical stuff may be over my head, but I can contribute on the philosophy,” he said. “It will also be interesting because we'll collaborate with international students. One of my seminars is bioethics and law. I know the U.S. law, and we follow that closely, but the different points of view and cultures will enhance the conversation.”
Weatherford's affinity for bioethics stems from his interest in ethics. He enjoys case studies that require someone to make a tough ethical decision. He loves the opportunity to be at the forefront of ground-breaking ideas and creating new ones from old theories. Weatherford said the class he took with Dr. Steven Jensen , associate professor of philosophy and expert on bioethics, showed him how to do bioethics correctly and helped him accurately frame a problem.
Weatherford said it is imperative to practice prudence when coming up against tougher decisions.
“If your ideas influence a law, you have to understand the impact you can make,” Weatherford said. “It's not just an idea, it's a way of acting. Empathy plays a major role in studying bioethics, because when you're doing ethical theory, it's easy to forget you're dealing with real people. It's easy for people to sometimes get carried away with their research.”
Weatherford researched and found the Yale program. After submitting his resume, a letter of intention and a couple of letters of recommendation, he was interviewed by Program Director Carol Pollard via several emails.
“I've had email conversations with Matthew, and I feel like I know him,” Pollard said. “We look for students who are motivated in the field of ethics and someone who has developed empathy. He will fit right in.”
Weatherford is ready to embark on his summer program and is eager to be the pioneer for the University.
“It's exciting to represent the University and St. Thomas' unique perspectives,” Weatherford said.