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Ethics and Society Practicum

*NOTE ON COVID-19* 
Given concerns surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the availability and structure of practicum experiences are bound to change as the pandemic situation develops. Some past practicum sites may not take on volunteers, may offer a different range of in-person opportunities than normal, or may be only offering remote opportunities. For this reason, students interested in participating in a practicum should begin the planning process early, so that we can be sure to find the right opportunities. Additionally, Master’s students who are currently learning remotely are encouraged to work with Dr. Swartzer to explore practicum opportunities in their local communities. 

Beyond traditional coursework, Ethics and Society Master’s students can gain hands-on, practical experience of ethics in action through a practicum in New York City (or elsewhere). Practicum experiences provide opportunities to observe and participate in ethical decision-making in professional settings, to gain valuable work-related experience to advance existing or future careers, and to advance projects that have real-world social impact. Practicum experiences might include:

  • volunteering for a local hospital and shadowing hospital workers and ethics consultants
  • doing communications and outreach work for a global bioethics non-profit organization
  • preparing and implementing lessons for middle or high school students on contemporary social justice issues
  • participating in a research project on early childhood education for a local non-profit organization

Students will work at the practicum site (on-site or virtually) once or twice per week (approximately 5 hours per week), participating in observations, engaging in projects, and performing work as assigned. These experiences will be integrated with the program’s broader interdisciplinary ethics learning through regular meetings with the Program Director and other practicum students, and academic work that contextualizes and analyzes the ethical dimensions of the practicum site work. Practicums can be arranged in any of our areas of specialization.

Below you will find some examples of practicum experiences and sites, along with more information about practicum requirements. In consultation with the Program Director, students may identify potential practicum sites and experiences not listed below.

Global Bioethics Initiative

Practicum Site: Global Bioethics Initiative

Global Bioethics Initiative (GBI) is a UN-affiliated international,non-profit organization co-founded by Ana Lita, PhD and Charles Debrovner, MD. With offices overlooking the United Nations headquarters in New York City, GBI is dedicated to fostering public awareness and understanding of bioethical issues,as well as exploring solutions to bioethical challenges. GBI achieves its mission via four goals:

  1. Promoting interdisciplinary research and providing the public with information pertaining to bioethical issues;
  2. Engaging a broader audience in public debates on emerging technologies and their potential impact;
  3. Collaborating with policy makers, including those at the United Nations (UN) and its agencies to identify solutions to global health problems, and
  4. Encouraging international debates at the intersection of health, biotechnology and medicine.

GBI organizes periodic focus groups, workshops, panel discussions, and conferences to facilitate public understanding of current bioethical issues impacting us all. GBI leverages the knowledge and experience of experts and other professionals in government, academia, and private industry, as well as its Board and Advisory Board members.

The four focus issues of primary concern at GBI are:

  1. Human organ transplantation and trafficking
  2. Ethical issues surrounding end-of-life
  3. Ethical issues related to assisted reproductive technologies (ART)
  4. Regenerative medicine and healthy aging

St. Barnabas Hospital

Practicum Site: St. Barnabas Hospital

St. Barnabas Hospital is a not-for-profit, nonsectarian, acute care community hospital and Level I Trauma Center located in the heart of the central Bronx. The expanding St. Barnabas healthcare network provides high-quality inpatient, outpatient and emergency medical, mental health and dental services throughout the Bronx.

  • 461 beds
  • Admits 25,000 patients annually
  • State-designated Regional Trauma Center; authorized to treat the most critically ill and severely injured patients
  • Child Advocacy Center provides multi-disciplinary forensic interviews and diagnostic evaluations for children who are suspected of being abused or neglected; provides community education to ACS, police departments, schools and other community providers
  • Adolescent medicine and teenage prenatal care
  • State-designated AIDS Center featuring comprehensive medical care and case management; in addition, we provide perinatal services for HIV+ women and newborns
  • National St. Barnabas Community Center of Excellence in Women's Health
  • An Emergency Department staffed exclusively by full-time physicians who are residency trained and Board certified in Emergency Medicine
  • Pediatric emergency services staffed by physicians Board certified in pediatrics and pediatric emergency medicine

Visit the St. Barnabas web site for the latest information about the hospital.

Student Requirements:

  1. Attend practicum site one day per week (approximately five hours) for one semester
  2. Attend weekly practicum class meetings at Fordham University
  3. Meet with the program director on a regular basis to discuss the practicum experience, rotation transitions, and any hospital-related issues
  4. Completion of the practicum project
  5. While St. Barnabas is a teaching hospital and the physicians expect and welcome student questions, comments, and discussion, students must be proactive in seeking out learning opportunities; St. Barnabas staff will provide guidance on ways to maximize the benefit of the experience
  6. Prior to beginning their on-site projects students will be provided information on St. Barnabas’ institutional rules and regulations; students are expected to comply with rules and regulations relevant to their activities at St. Barnabas

To maximize exposure to a breadth of ethics relevant hospital services,over the course of one semester, for their field experience students will rotate through five services. Additional services may be added depending on student interests and hospital resources.

Fordham University Institutional Review Board.

Practicum Site: Fordham University Institutional Review Board (IRB)

The IRB at Fordham University works cooperatively with researchers in the Fordham community to assure that standards are met for the conduct of research with human subjects. We work with investigators to modify projects so that adequate protection is ensured for its subjects' welfare and right of self-determination.

Visit the IRB website for more information about this office. Visit the Center's IRB Resource page for more information about IRBs

Generation Citizen

Practicum Site: Generation Citizen

Generation Citizen was founded in 2008 with the belief in the power of the democratic spirit in which individuals come together to make a collective difference in their communities. Generation Citizen empowers young people to become engaged and effective citizens.

The organization strengthens our nation’s democracy by empowering young people to solve problems in their own communities through a rigorous action-civics course. Semester-long programs are led by a partnership between trained college-student volunteers, known as Democracy Coaches, and secondary school teachers. 

Democracy Coaches work in a middle or high school classroom twice a week for the duration of the semester teaching the curriculum and working with students to help them achieve their chosen class goal.

Middle and high school students focus on issues and topics that are relevant to their lives and employ critical-thinking and strategic decision-making skills to effect positive change in their communities. Generation Citizen’s goal is for every student to experience a “moment of empowerment” where they see firsthand the strength of their voice and commitment and recognize their responsibility to be an effective and engaged citizen.

The Democracy Coach is responsible for lesson preparation, implementing lessons, conducting research, preparing research for student use, and reaching out to community leaders whose experience is relevant to the students' project. 

Past student project topics include:

1. Police/community relations
2. Access to healthy food
3. Safety on public transit
4. Gang violence
5. Affordable housing
6. LGBTQ youth homelessness
7. Health and environment

Visit the Generation Citizen website for more information.

Harlem United

Practicum Site: Harlem United

Harlem United is a community health center focused on caring for under served populations in New York City. The mission of Harlem United is to provide 100% access to quality HIV/AIDS care for all clients, regardless of race, socio-economic status, or sexual orientation. Harlem United seeks to ensure that each client remains connected to treatment and obtains the best possible health outcomes; provide quality HIV prevention,housing, and care services in a safe and nurturing environment; empower clients physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually; unite Harlem’s diverse communities and address the needs of all people living with and threatened by HIV/AIDS.

Harlem United offers a range of services including: Primary care doctors,Dentists, Individual & family counseling, HIV & STI testing and prevention education, Sexual health counseling, LGBT support groups, Care coordination for low-income people living with HIV, Adult Day Health Care Centers, individual counseling, group sessions, job training, hot meals, peer support and more.

Harlem United also engages in policy work by promoting policy platforms and advocacy strategies which seek to elevate health and social justice issues and remove barriers to community health and well-being. Their advocacy is comprehensive; yet organized around three overarching principles: ‘An ounce of prevention’; ‘Primary Care + Public Health = Community Health’; and ‘Housing is healthcare’. The issues they address include: HIV prevention and testing;Access to Hepatitis C care and services; LGBT Health; Support for the Ryan White Care Act; Expanded eligibility for city housing program HASA; 30% RentCap; Supportive housing.

Families and Work Institute

Practicum Site: Families and Work Institute

Families and Work Institute is a leading nonprofit research organization based in New York City specializing in generating data (including research design, collection, and analysis), developing reports and recommendations, and disseminating findings that inform policy and law related to workplace, family and community. Widely cited in the media, Families and Work Institute's influential research focuses on four broad themes: The Changing Workforce/Workplace, Early Childhood, Supporting Work Project, and Youth.

Current and recent projects include

National Study of the Changing Workforce
Mind in the Making
School-based Health Care Project
Ask the Children: Youth and Engagement Learning
Ask the Children: Youth and Violence
9/11 as History

Please visit www.familiesandwork.org for more information about current projects.

National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership

Practicum Site: National Jewish Center on Learning and Leadership

Established in 1974, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership (Clal) is a leading think tank, training institute, and resource center. Clal’s faculty and scholars, representing a wide variety of disciplines, engage in high-level scholarship, education, and consultation. Clal collaborates with leaders, businesses, and organizations to create and improve programs, policies, and practices with moral and ethical implications,and work frequently with leaders within the health care, legal, business, policy, and education arenas. Their influential and thought-provoking work engages leaders, scholars, practitioners and the general public to encourage pluralism and promote diversity. Clal scholars and leaders partner with a wide range of individuals and organizations to infuse spiritual and religious wisdom in addressing a variety of professional, religious, and ethical challenges. Scholars at Clal publish widely on a variety of topics and are sought after to comment on current issues of contemporary social importance in highly visible radio, television, and print media outlets.

Registration and Requirements

Registration:
The practicum counts as an elective toward the Ethics and Society degree. Students must have completed at least three graduate courses prior to beginning a practicum. Registration for this course (CEED 5900 for 3 credits) is only by permission of the Program Director, and students wishing to pursue a practicum should contact Dr. Steven Swartzer by mid-term of the semester prior to their intended start date.

Practicum Experience: 
The practicum course has 3 components: 

  • Field experience: Students will spend one or two days per week (approximately five hours) at the practicum site (either in-person or virtually). 
  • Weekly meetings: Students will attend weekly Ethics & Society Practicum class meetings to discuss assigned readings and practicum experiences, and to plan their independent practicum project. 
  • Independent project: Students will complete an independent project that is associated with their practicum experiences; complementary to their interests, educational, and professional background; and integrates these experiences with the foundational ethical frameworks introduced through their Ethics and Society coursework. When appropriate, students may spend additional time at practicum site completing their practicum projects.