Expert lectures on autonomy

Philip Martin

Autonomy is a major concern within medical ethics, and the Baptist Student Union is hoping to answer any questions students have about it.

At 3 p.m. Monday the BSU is presenting Dr. Alan Branch, vice president for student development at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, in an open lecture. Branch is a leading expert in the area of autonomy.

“He earned his Ph.D. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, in Wake Forest, N.C., with a dissertation titled ‘The Challenged Posed by Autonomy in Medical Ethics,'” said Phil Gloyer, BSU director. “He’s spent several years looking at the nature of human autonomy, of freedom and where we derive our understanding of freedom and how that understanding of the right to control our body has developed over the course of our countries existence.”

Gloyer said he originally got the idea to do the lecture after Branch had contacted him about speaking at the BSU about MWBTS. After the initial phone call, Gloyer thought it would be a good idea to have Branch speak on campus about autonomy.

“I think our top priority there (bringing him to Missouri Southern) is just to make sure the students here at a state university are exposed to a variety of viewpoints about ethical issues and moral issues that face our society as a whole,” Gloyer said. “Missouri Southern only has very limited faculty and course offerings in religion, religious studies and philosophy. These are really foundational to helping the students understand the kind of issues that are facing our society. We thought it was helpful in bringing him in.”

Branch thought it would be a good idea to come to campus for various reasons, although he has never done anything like it before.

“It may help the students understand the importance of autonomy,” he said. “I enjoy banter and thought-provoking conversation. I hope to bring clarification on the subject.”

Branch said he enjoys discussing issues that deal with medical ethics. He said autonomy is an important subject to talk about because it is the “driving principle in medical ethics,” plus it has appeared in many Supreme Court cases.

Branch said autonomy affects everything from stem cell research to abortion to euthanasia.

The lecture will feature a question-and-answer period at the end of the session. Branch will also be speaking at the BSU at 7 p.m. that night.

For information about the lecture contact, Gloyer at 624-0925.

“I encourage students to come, bring questions and an open mind,” Branch said.