Laurie Zoloth, PhD Photo
Segal Seminar Series

Laurie Zoloth, PhD

May 15, 2012, 4:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center
1.350 (ITW Classroom)
2133 Sheridan Rd. Evanston , IL 60208

A Good Line: Ethical Issues in a Designed World


The ethical principles of justice, beneficence and non-maleficence are our standard when evaluating the moral act that is medicine and bioethics as a discipline has much to say about the nature, goal and meaning of research in science. But what of the ethics of design? What are the core ethical issues raised in the disciplines of design, architecture, and engineering. Beyond the clear public health and safety issues, how can engineers and designers act of such virtues as humility, veracity and courage? What sort of theory of justice do you promote with your designed spaces? This paper will reflect on the process, telos and methods of design and raise the ethical issues that define the disciplines of design.


Laurie Zoloth, a Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence, is Director of Brady Program in Ethics and Civic Life at Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University, and was the founding director of The Center for Bioethics, Science and Society at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. She teaches in the Medical Humanities and Bioethics Program, in the Jewish Studies program and as of Professor of Religious Studies. From 1995-2003 she was a founder and Director of the Program in Jewish Studies at San Francisco State University.

In 2011, she was elected as Vice President of the American Academy of Religion. In 2001 she was the President of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities a two term member of its founding board, receiving its Distinguished Service Award in 2007. She was a founder and vice president of the Society for Jewish Ethics and is a current board member . She served for two terms as member of the NASA National Advisory Council, the nation's highest civilian advisory board for NASA, for which she received the NASA National Public Service Award in 2005, the Executive Committee of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, and she was the founding Chair of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Bioethics Advisory Board. She has also been on the founding national boards of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanites, the International Society for Stem Cell Research, The Society for Scriptural Reasoning, and NASA’s International Planetary Protection Advisory Committee. In 2005 she was honored as the Graduate Theological Union’s alumna of the year, and in 2009 she received Northwestern University's most distinguished award for teaching. In 2011, she was named to the City of Evanston Environmental Board.

Professor Zoloth has also served on the national advisory boards of the American Association of the Advancement of Science's Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion; The Data Safety Monitoring Board for the NIH International AIDS Clinical Trials Group, and the NIH Asia AIDS DSMB, and the DSMB on research on minorities and health care; The Robert Wood Johnson’s Project on Excellence at the End of Life; The American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Working Group on Human Germ-Line Interventions and on Stem Cell Research; the Ethics Section of the American Academy of Religion; the Western Jewish Studies Association; The Louis Finkelstein Institute for Jewish Social Ethics; The Park Ridge Center's Project on Judaism and Bioethics, and the editorial boards of The American Society for Law, Medicine and Ethics Journal, Shofar: A Journal of Jewish Studies; The Journal of Clinical Ethics; American Journal of Bioethics; and Second Opinion: A Journal of Health, Faith and Ethics. She was the bioethics consultant to NASA’s Ames Research Center's, and NASA’s National Interagency National Animal Care and Use Committees.

In 2000, Professor Zoloth was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Virginia in the Department of Religion and The Center for Medical Ethics. She is also co-founder of The Ethics Practice, a group that has provided clinical ethics consultation and education services to health care providers and health care systems nationally.. She received her BA in Women's Studies and History from the University of California at Berkeley, her BSN from the University of the State of New York, her MA in English from San Francisco State University, her MA in Jewish Studies and her Ph.D. in Social Ethics at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. She has published extensively in the areas of ethics, family, feminist theory, religion and science, Jewish Studies, and social policy in The Hastings Center Report, The Journal of Clinical Ethics, The Kennedy Institutes Journal of Bioethics, Theoretical Medicine, The Cambridge Quarterly, The HEC Forum, Medical Humanities Review, The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, Tikkun Magazine, Judaism, The Journal of Religious Ethics, and has authored chapters in 27 books. Her book, Health Care and The Ethics of Encounter, on justice, health policy, and the ethics of community, was published in 1999. She is also co-editor of four books, Notes From a Narrow Ridge: Religion and Bioethics, with Dena Davis; Margin of Error: The Ethics of Mistakes in Medicine, with Susan Rubin; The Human Embryonic Stem Cell Debate: Ethics, Religion and Policy, with Karen LeBacqz and Suzanne Holland; and Oncofertility: Ethical, Legal, Social and Medical Perspectives, published in 2010, with Teresa Woodruff, Lisa Campo-Edelstein, and Sarah Rodriquez.

Her current research projects include work on the emerging issues in medical and research genetics. In 1999 she was invited to give testimony to National Bioethics Advisory Board on Jewish philosophy and stem cell research. She has been awarded three faculty recognition awards at SFSU, for teaching large classes, for research, and for community service, and recognized 6 times for excellence by SFSU for her work as faculty advisor to Hillel, the Jewish Student Organization. At Northwestern she received the ASU Teaching Award in 2004. In 2000 she was awarded a NIH ELSI (Ethical Legal and Social Issues of the Human Genome) Grant to explore the ethical issues after the mapping of the human genome. In 2001, she was named as principle investigator for the International Project on Judaism and Genetics, co-sponsored by the AAAS, and supported by the Haas Foundation and the Greenwall Fund.

She has been invited to give testimony on the issues of science, bioethics and religion to the National Bioethics Advisory Council, Texas Legislature, the Chicago City Council, The State of Illinois, and the US Senate. She has served as a visiting lecturer on this topic at universities in Japan, Korea, Norway, Holland, Germany, England, and Mexico.