- The Kids Are All Right
We announced at the start of the year that we intended to commemorate our fortieth year of publication by looking to the next forty years. In a call for papers in the January-February issue, we asked what bioethics should do next, and we asked the people who would be leading the effort, the incoming generation of scholars, to tell us, in the form of a 1,600-word essay. We intended to publish the two or three essays we liked best in the November–December issue.
The response caught us off guard. We guessed we might receive seventy or eighty essays, but we ended up with close to two hundred. We were also surprised by the high quality of the essays. Frankly, we expected to be able to quickly eliminate most of the essays submitted, but we found—both to our delight and to our dismay!—that this was not possible. This is a lovely problem, but it made the process of picking those we’d like to publish extremely difficult.
Also, our selection criteria were not straightforward, which made the process yet more arduous. We ended up judging the essays by the importance of the proposal (in our estimation), its originality, and the quality of writing (using the Report’s standards, which favor scholarly but very accessible writing). We also wanted to represent the range of essayists who took up our challenge—undergraduates, graduates, fellows, untenured professors, clinicians, and other people early in their careers. Finally, we decided we wanted to represent the range of proposals, giving extra weight to issues that appeared in one form or another in many essays but also trying to avoid repetition. (So, if forty essays discussed pharmaceutics, we were likelier to select one of those essays for publication, but having selected one, we were less likely to select another.)
And we decided to publish more essays than we initially intended. Ultimately, we assembled two sets. The current issue features a set of four essays that discuss topics bioethics should take up in coming years. We have essays by an undergraduate, a graduate student, an early career professor who is also a practicing physician, and a researcher who is also a lecturer in ethics, philosophy, biochemistry, and microbiology (“strange combination, I know,” she wrote me) at a school for nurses and midwives. (Full bios are included with each essay.)
We also received many essays about the conduct or method of bioethics, however, and sometime next year we will publish an additional set on this topic, featuring essays by Harold Braswell, a doctoral student in the culture, science, and history program at Emory University; Amy Paul, a doctoral student in public health at Johns Hopkins; and jointly by Lisa Campo-Engelstein and Sarah B. Rodriguez, who are both postdoctoral fellows at Northwestern University.
We are honored to have received so many excellent essays. It is a great responsibility to be entrusted with writing that so obviously reflects great personal investment from the writers. And it’s a comfort, going forward into the next forty years, to know that there’s a deep pool of talent for the Report to draw upon. [End Page 2]