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Review: The Hastings Center Visiting Scholar

As a combined Juris Doctor (Law) and Master of Health Administration student, bioethical considerations run throughout my academic interests, holding disciplines together and providing a novel framework of critical analysis to colour my work. With limited past bioethical experience I took the 2017 summer to take a deep dive into the discipline. A layer of this deep dive was a 6-week visiting academic internship at the Hastings Center in Garrison, New York.

The Hastings Center is a bioethics think tank facilitating bioethical dialogue through critical analysis, discussion, and scholarship. With a rock star team of academics and staff, the center is a meeting place for inquiry and academic pursuit. My time at the Center exposed me to new fields of study, spurred novel insights, and allowed me the space to solidify my own interests. As a visiting scholar I took part in roundtable discussions, visiting lunchtime presentations, and was able to fully engage with my own interests. Various scholars from around the world visited the Center during my stay and I was able to sit in on lunchtime presentations and engage with academics from a variety of backgrounds. This added immense value to my own stay in that it expanded my own understanding of the breadth and dimension of bioethics as a field of study.

My own time resulted in a blog publication, in addition to a formal international publication in Health Policy, highlighting the supportive and engaging academic environment. I was also able to do a test run of a presentation I would later give at the IME Conference at Oxford a few weeks following my stay with the Center. These experiences added value to my own academic pursuits but also highlighted the intangible benefits of being supported by other researchers and the motivation it sparked.

The Center has its own blog, as well as the Hastings Center Report, which act as different mediums for published work. Researchers are encouraged to submit to these mediums when at the Center (and beyond their time) and with the editors just next door the opportunity to openly discuss is a tremendous benefit. The Center itself is an old 19th century school house with newly renovated scholar apartments next door to the main Center. With a full kitchen, its own library, and beautiful grounds, the physical environment of the Center further adds to its atmosphere of pursuit and enrichment.

Descriptive background aside, as to the academic experience at the Center, for those interested in visiting the Center themselves I’ll give some practical info from my own experience. I stayed in the Center's apartments when I visited and shared the 3-bedroom apartment with other visiting scholars. This was a great opportunity to get to know others from different backgrounds who had the same shared interests as myself (I believe there were 4 different individuals who rotated through the rooms during my 6-week stay). The grounds of the Center were an exceptional bonus in my opinion. With hiking, great views of the Hudson (the sunsets can’t be missed!!), and New York City just an hour’s train ride away, the opportunities to explore outside of your research time was a fantastic highlight. I visited NYC at least 4 times during my 6-week stay as well as visiting Cold Springs, the small town about 15-minutes by bike away.

The Center itself is nestled in the countryside, away from the realities of busyness. I would highly encourage any individual reading this to pursue potential opportunities at the Center. The encouraging and dynamic environment allows exploration and thoughtful consideration of your own curiosities and work, which can be hard to find during busy school semesters and other outside obligations. For me, the Center gave me the freedom to examine and investigate my interests with the support of others, alongside the means to openly engage with dynamic thought leaders in the field of bioethics.

If you have any questions for Chelsea, send us a message and we will put you in touch.

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