Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

At the Center

Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

At the Center

Article excerpt

At the Center--again. The first person I met from The Hastings Center was Bonnie Baya Hart. She picked me up in the morning at the now legendary Ardsley Acres Motel for my day of interviews at the Center, interviews that would determine whether I would receive a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship that would allow me to spend a year at the Center studying bioethics. I was surprised to see a third person enter the car. It was someone competing for one of the same NEH Fellowships, a philosopher by the name of John Arras.

Bioethics. Until I saw an ad in a professional magazine, I had never heard the term. But when I read the description of what was done at Hastings under the rubric of bioethics, I knew that was where I should be. Questions about the ethics of research with human beings had haunted me ever since my own experience doing such research in graduate school. Here was a place, and a community of scholars, who took those questions seriously and tried to answer them with both insight and rigor.

Those interviews occurred twenty years ago. And yes, I was awarded one of the NEH Fellowships, as was John. The Fellowship year stretched into five when I was asked to become an Associate. I left the Center fifteen years ago to teach at medical schools, returning from time to time for Fellows' meetings and to participate in various research projects.

When I accepted the invitation to return to the Center as its president, many of my friends told me that I was crazy to leave a tenured, endowed professorship for the uncertainties of life at an independent research institute. …

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