Ethics of the COVID-19 Response: Global, Regional and Local Challenges

About the COVID-19 Bioethics Online Summer 2020 Course

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant social and ethical challenges around the world and in our homes. Taught by a range of faculty across multiple Emory schools alongside guest ethics faculty from across the world, this interdisciplinary course will analyze global, regional and local bioethical issues raised by COVID-19, including: 

  • restrictions of freedom (e.g. isolation and quarantine)
  • ethical approaches to allocation of scarce healthcare resources
  • the impact of pandemics on systemic disparity and inequalities

The graduate course will be taught remotely with synchronous online class sessions (Thursdays, 3pm-5:30pm EST) and asynchronous content, with the first class on May 21 and the last class on August 6.  There will be significant opportunities for asynchronous, remote class participation and may not be a synchronous class every week of the term. 

Suitability for a Range of Students & Working Professionals

While the course is offered as part of Emory’s MA in Bioethics program, as a standalone elective it is also suitable for a range of other students.  This course is available to students seeking graduate degrees at Emory or other universities, non-degree seeking students and working professionals (including faculty and staff in all of Emory’s Schools).  Because it is a graduate course, anyone applying to take this course must have previously completed at least a bachelor’s degree.  Students who are not currently pursuing a graduate degree at Emory University will need to apply to be non-degree seeking students in special standing with the Laney Graduate School.

For those seeking graduate degrees at Emory, it is important that you discuss this course’s suitability to meet your degree requirements with your academic advisor and/or director of graduate studies.  This is a three credit hour course that counts as an elective in the MA in Bioethics program.  The MA in Bioethics program is not responsible for the degree requirements of other programs at Emory.

For those seeking degrees at non-Emory universities, it is important that you discuss this course’s suitability to meet the degree requirements from your home university.  Emory University is not responsible for the degree requirements of other universities. 

For those not seeking a degree at Emory, the tuition rates are determined by the Laney Graduate School.  The Laney Graduate School charges $2,378 per credit hour.  As the course is three credit hours, the tuition costs $7,134.  Students who successfully complete this standalone course may apply to transfer these 3 credit hours to the MA in Bioethics program should they later apply to and be admitted to the MA in Bioethics program.  The MA in Bioethics program requires 30 credit hours of coursework for completion. 

For Emory faculty and staff, the tuition costs for this course may be covered by the Emory Courtesy Scholarship.  For more information, please visit the Courtesy Scholarship webpage and contact HR. 

In order to apply to take this course without being an Emory MA in Bioethics degree student, you will have to apply as a non-degree Laney Graduate School student. For the Summer 2020 term, the non-degree student enrollment deadline has been extended from May 12 to May 19, 2020.  There will be no further extensions.  To take advantage of this extended deadline, you must email as soon as possible to receive written approval of your enrollment, and be ready to complete your entire non-degree student application online (including having a copy of a previous academic transcript) on May 19, 2020.  

For more information about this course, please email:

Meet the Course Leaders

  • Gerard Vong is an Assistant Professor and Director of the Master of Arts in Bioethics program.  Prior to joining Emory, Dr. Vong was a faculty fellow-in-residence at Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University and a Jane Eliza Procter graduate fellow at Princeton University.  Dr Vong's research focuses on the fair and ethical allocation of scarce healthcare resources and he co-authored Emory Healthcare's guidance on the allocation of scarce critical care resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Kathy Kinlaw is Associate Director of the Emory University Center for Ethics where she directs the Center's Program in Health, Science, and Ethics; and Lead Ethicist at Emory Healthcare. She serves as Chair, Emory University Hospital Ethics Committee; Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Emory School of Medicine; and Director of the Healthcare Ethics Consortium, a network of healthcare systems in the Southeast.  She served as a member of the CDC Ethics Subcommittee of the Advisory Committee to the Director and co-authored the CDC Ethical Guidelines in Pandemic Influenza.  She led the drafting and implementation of Emory Healthcare guidance on the allocation of critical care resources in a public health emergency during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Jim Lavery is the inaugural Conrad N. Hilton Chair in Global Health Ethics and Professor in the Hubert Department of Global Health in the Rollins School of Public Health. Prof. Lavery has presented and published on a number of COVID-19 ethical topics, including the unproven use of hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 patients and the human costs of COVID-19 containment efforts