Misericordia University Center for Bioethics adds Holocaust to name, mission

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DALLAS TWP., Pa. – Misericordia University is celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Center for Human Dignity in Bioethics, Medicine and Health, with a look back at its accomplishments, and the announcement of a new name as it moves forward in its mission “to foster a deepened understanding of medical practices and their ethical ramifications for society.”

Misericordia University announced the renaming of the Center for Human Dignity in Bioethics, Health and the Holocaust during a World Bioethics Day lecture by Ira Bedzow, Ph.D. Participating in the special presentation, from left, are David Rehm, vice president of Academic Affairs, Misericordia University; Amanda Caleb, Ph.D., associate professor of English and director of the Medical and Health Humanities Program, Misericordia University; Stacy Gallin, D.M.H., director, Center for Human Dignity in Bioethics, Health and the Holocaust, Misericordia University; Ira Bedzow, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine and director of the Biomedical Ethics and Humanities Program, New York Medical College, and President Thomas J. Botzman, Ph.D., Misericordia University.

During a World Bioethics Day lecture by noted bioethicist Ira Bedzow, Ph.D., on Wednesday, Oct. 17, David Rehm, Ph.D., vice president of academic affairs, announced the name of the center has been changed to The Center for Human Dignity in Bioethics, Health and the Holocaust at Misericordia University.

“The Holocaust reveals an extraordinary low point in human history, in its denial of dignity to human beings and its medically sanctioned genocide. This approach to medicine can never happen again,” Dr. Rehm said during the announcement. “Tonight, we rename Misericordia’s center the Center for Human Dignity in Bioethics, Health and the Holocaust. This revised name will help keep us in mind of what we as humans are capable. It will remind us of the great benefits and the challenges associated with medical practices. And, it will reveal Misericordia University as the only university in the country to focus specifically on the ramifications of the Holocaust for bioethics, health care practice and policy, and human dignity. We must keep this historical moment in mind as we reflect upon and pursue greater dignity for all humans,” Dr. Rehm added.

“In our first year, the center has received support and affirmation from people in 16 countries as we spread the word for the need to understand and promote bioethical decisions,” Stacy Gallin, D.M.H., director of the center, said following the public announcement. “It is impossible not to look at the Holocaust as a time in history where the world failed to take action. The new name better represents the work the Center for Human Dignity has been doing and will help us as we develop programming in the future. While there are academic centers that focus on Holocaust and genocide studies, there are none that focus on the Holocaust as a unique example of medically sanctioned genocide and explore what that means for bioethics, health care policy and human rights endeavors in modern society.”

The center will continue to build on the teachings offered in the university’s history and religious studies departments, as well as the Medical and Health Humanities Program, to fulfill the mission of integrating the concept of human dignity into the entire educational curriculum, according to Dr. Gallin.

As co-chair of the Department of Bioethics and the Holocaust of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Chair of Bioethics in Haifa, Israel, Dr. Gallin brings international recognition to the Misericordia University Center for Human Dignity. “This is the first center in education to be devoted to bioethics, health and the Holocaust, and what is even more amazing to me, is that it is located at a Catholic university,” said Gallin. “It makes perfect sense if you know the heart of Misericordia University – and its commitment to the tenets of Mercy, Service, Justice and Hospitality, on which it was founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1924.”

In addition to hosting numerous programs throughout its first year, the center introduced an online “Pledge for Human Dignity in Health Care” in January 2018. The ongoing pledge enables health care professionals and concerned citizens to take action and actively commit to uphold the values of dignity, equality and justice within health care. More than 600 people from around the world have signed the pledge to date, including Holocaust survivor Eva Moses Kor, who spoke at Misericordia University in September 2017.

The center’s Advisory Council has scheduled the second annual Pledge to Preserve Human Dignity in Health Care program for Jan. 28, 2019, to coincide with International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27. The keynote speaker is psychiatry Professor J. Wesley Boyd, M.D., Ph.D., who is on the faculty of the Center for Bioethics of Harvard Medical School and is co-founder and co-director of the Human Rights and Asylum Clinic, and Cambridge Health Alliance. In an evening lecture, he will present the talk, “The Case for Keeping Our Borders Open to Immigrants,” in which he will focus on understanding data about immigrants in the United States regarding the likelihood of committing crimes and employment status, and understanding national law and international covenants pertaining to immigration, asylum, and human rights.

For more information about The Center for Human Dignity in Bioethics, Health and the Holocaust at Misericordia University and details on the Jan. 28 lecture, please contact Stacy Gallin at sgallin@misericordia.edu or visit www.misericordia.edu/humandignity. Founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1924, Misericordia University is Luzerne County’s first four-year college and offers 45 academic programs on the graduate and undergraduate levels in full- and part-time formats. Misericordia University ranks in the top tier of the Best Regional Universities – North category of U.S. News and World Report’s 2018 edition of Best Colleges. The Princeton Review recognizes MU as a 2018 Best Northeastern College and MONEY Magazine includes Misericordia in its 2017-18 “Best Colleges” list.