Ethics and Public Health in the Age of Terrorism

Legal & Ethical
Online Course
10 hours
University at Albany, SUNY
New York-New Jersey PERLC

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Ethics and Public Health in an Age of Terrorism is a carefully-crafted curriculum that explores the role of public health in addressing the ethical, emotional and legal dilemmas confronting those who plan for and respond to all hazards.

Learning Objectives: 
  • Identify historic roots and basic meanings of civil liberties and civil rights in American society
  • Recognize the challenges a terror event and a “war on terror” make to civil liberties and civil rights
  • Describe the ways the these challenges are met in law and in practice
  • Identify the differing roles of the various branches of government and the problem of jurisdiction
  • Explain the limits on government actions imposed by a separation of powers and what happens to these limits in an age of terror
  • Summarize the authority and responsibility provided by the Emergency Powers Act
  • Discuss the ethical issues raised by the potential conflicts between “command” authority and the separation of powers
  • Examine the problems and possibilities of citizen participation
  • Define and explain the similarities and differences between quarantine and isolation
  • Recognize the limits of quarantine and isolation in dealing with communicable diseases
  • Describe the ethical issues raised by the quarantine or isolation of individuals and communities
  • Explain how the “harm principle” is used as a justification for implementing quarantine and isolation measures
  • Describe the use of the “precautionary principle” in deciding whether or not to implement quarantine and isolation measures
  • Explain the the difference between communication, risk communication, and propaganda
  • Explain the relationship between knowledge, communication, and action
  • Identify the roles and responsibilities of public authorities, health care professionals, the media, and others in a time of terror
  • Recognize the myths and realities about sharing information with the public
  • Discuss the practical and ethical consequences of nondisclosure of information, of “spin,” and of misinformation
  • Identify the effects of a terror event on individuals' attitudes, behaviors, and relationships
  • Describe how community and culture shape the ways in which individuals cope with terror
  • Describe how community and culture are influenced by a terror event or during an “age of terrorism”
  • Recognize the strengths that people and communities bring to disasters and to terror events
  • Discuss how spiritual, religious, and cultural values affect our attitudes and our conduct
  • Describe the diversity of customs and practices surrounding death and dying, medical treatment, public health authority, and political power
  • Describe the effects of history and practice on the attitudes and conduct of religious and cultural minorities
  • Recognize how poverty and institutional bias undermine the effectiveness of public health efforts
  • Recognize how trust, justice, and fairness are necessary to effective responses to terror
  • Describe the competitive forces at work in allocation policies
  • Identify the difference that an “age of terrorism” has made in setting priorities
  • Recognize the relationship between budget priorities and ethical decisions
  • Explain the social and political factors that shape budget priorities
  • Discuss the ethical issues that arise from this competitive situation
  • Distinguish between ordinary medical priorities and those that appear after a WMD/T attack
  • Recognize the conflicting roles, responsibilities, and choices facing caregivers and others
  • Discuss the moral requirements of community-focused as opposed to individually-focused medical ethics
  • Recognize the systemic relationships involved in the “food chain”
  • Describe the particular vulnerabilities to which the food supply and its human, animal, and plant producers are subject
  • Discuss the implications of the divide between urban and rural communities
  • Recognize the relationship between professional community, tradition, and duty
  • Define the meaning of the phrase “duties and privileges,” which marks the recognition of someone's professional status
  • Discuss the usefulness and limits of professional codes of conduct
  • Describe the consequences when caregivers and other professionals fail to meet their professional responsibilities or complete assigned tasks
  • Identify the similarities and differences between obligations under conditions of clinical emergencies, natural disasters, and terror events
PHEP Capabilities: 
Community Preparedness