Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
January 22, 2001
Software introduces bioethics
Redemptorists develop CD-Rom aimed at high school students
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — Who knew that interactive media could be a ministry.
Bioethics on CD-Rom is not a money-making venture as so many computer programs have become.
Nor is OptionX designed to make millions for the Redemptorist Bioethics Consultancy of Western Canada, which funds it. Rather, it sets out to help students make sense of bioethical issues in today's society.
The CD-ROM, produced by Critical Mass Interactive in 1998 with consultation by Rebecca Davis Mathias, ethics professor at St. Joseph's College, examines issues ranging from genetic cloning to euthanasia. It also contains core curriculum content for Biology 30, which makes it an ideal learning tool for high school programs.
It was a stroll through a CompuSmart store that got Davis Mathias thinking about OptionX. She noticed there were software programs on languages, desktop publishing, video games and a plethora of topics from A to Z, but nothing on bioethics.
The program is geared towards high school students, but ideal for anyone interested in bioethical issues.
It offers a series of bioethical situations where users can enter into a world of genetics and human dignity.
The program highlights three characters, Mark, Tasha and Ryan, who deal with delicate situations that are part of their everyday lives and careers. Mark is a lab technician, reflecting on his contribution to the Human Genome Project. Tasha is a genetics student examining the potential and drawbacks in genetic engineering. Ryan, a young man interested in the ethics field, is faced with the question of assisted suicide.
The program is interactive, allowing users to examine the pros and cons and the consequences of each decision.
Although bioethics is the study of right and wrong of biological interventions in human life, it does not give definite answers. And though funded by the Redemptorists, it is based on general human values rather than purely Catholic ones and therefore useful for students in both separate and public schools, Davis Mathias said.
"We wanted to make it as universal as possible," she said.
The program takes about an hour to complete and doesn't offer definite yes or no answers.
"We never say you must choose this or you have to make that decision," Davis Mathias said. "In ethics there is no black and white. In ethics it is always a decision-making process."
She added it's not difficult to deal with such issues, only a challenge because society is uncomfortable dealing with them. People "have to suspend their judgment for a moment" when looking at bioethical issues.
Although not everyone has been directly linked to some of these issues, Davis Mathias said many people have seen these issues in one way or another in their own lives and will be able to relate to them.
The program aims to raise bioethical awareness while also responding to it in an ethical way, she said. It's become a tool for science and religion teachers. She doesn't know how many schools are using the program, but wishes she could get the word out to more educators.
"Ethics has to start in the school as well," she said. "We need to have people freely talking about the issues.
"In pursuit of the good life you must have a moral conscience" developed through decisions we've learned to make with help from resources. In the case of Christians, these resources include the Scriptures.
For more information on OptionX, call 408-3830.
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.