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Anscombe Bioethics Centre

Education Officer
‘An excellent session provided by Michael, an engaging, knowledgeable
introduction to the main issues, taking into account the varied backgrounds of
the audience. Questions taken and answered expertly… I will be encouraging
other groups to make use of such expertise.’
- John Smartt, President, National Council for Lay Associations, responding to the Education Officer’s talk on genetic
engineering at the annual conference of the Catholic Men’s Society of Great Britain

‘A wonderful and thought provoking talk which led to some very interesting,
challenging and beneficial discussion!’
- Undergraduate student, responding to the Education Officer’s talk on beginning-of-life issues for a university’s
Catholic Society

The Education Officer plays a key role at the
Anscombe Bioethics Centre, a Roman Catholic
research institute based in Oxford. His principal
responsibility is to facilitate the effective
communication of Catholic moral thought as it
bears on biomedicine and healthcare. This is done
through engagement with schools and universities,
the publication of high quality articles in the media,
and the organisation of intellectually challenging
academic events. Sixth form students at a workshop led by the Education Officer

As a member of a small but dynamic team, the Over the next five years the Education Officer post
Education Officer’s work cuts across all aspects of will provide the opportunity for the post-holder
the Centre’s activities, from academic research, to contribute to the Centre’s rigorous Catholic
seminary teaching, talks to sixth form and university philosophical and theological approach to bioethical
students, and the production of educational questions, and centrally, to the project of making
resources to day-to-day administration, IT support, this approach accessible and widely available.
design work, and digital marketing. This will be achieved in the following ways:
• Through the development of events, talks,
and resources that are tailored to different 5 Year Plan
audiences, such as students or healthcare
professionals; With the aid of generous donations to
• Through management of the Centre’s online keep the Education Officer post open,
‘shop front’, which includes the website, online we have the following plans for the next
bookshop, event listings, videos on the Centre’s 5 years:
YouTube and the Centre’s Facebook account;
1. Courses: Developing ethics courses for the UK and
• Through continued engagement with relevant Ireland aimed at and for medical students, but open
third parties like schools, universities, media to all. These will include content on bioethical issues
outlets, pro-life organisations and other as well as ethical communication skills, including
academic institutes. communicating in challenging situations.

a. Electronic offerings (online course content,
including lectures, interviews with experts,
papers, and study questions).

b. In-vivo teaching (lectures and facilitated group

2. Schools and universities: The core of the post’s
educational outreach will continue to be Sixth Form
and university students. This will include:

a. Engaging students with talks, presentations,
and debates, e.g. through RE departments,
Catholic chaplaincies, philosophy and debating

b. Providing teacher-training on bioethical
issues in the RE curriculum and themes from
Thinking Christian Ethos: the meaning of Catholic
education, a book co-authored by Centre staff.

3. Seminaries: Providing specialist bioethics
Michael Wee, the current Education Officer teaching, developing resources to support future
priests, building networks with clergy to support
Maintaining this post will allow the Centre to their pastoral work.
continue to benefit from these services. This will
greatly increase the Centre’s ability to market its 4. Development of educational resources (web and
publications and events digitally, as well as increase print):
the Centre’s educational outreach to new individuals
and groups. a. Video lectures, short clips introducing
bioethical issues or current debates, live
The Education Officer’s post provides the Centre broadcasts.
with one person who is dedicated to working with
schools and universities. This significantly increases b. Explainers, resource sheets, lesson plans.
the Centre’s capacity for responding to requests for
presentations, workshops or other forms of input. c. Print material, e.g. CTS booklets.
5. Continued engagement with the media: • Speaking at debates in universities
Developing good relations with media outlets,
drafting and dissemination of press statements, • Conducting tutorial teaching at Blackfriars,
offering of popular, accessible articles that do Oxford and seminary teaching at St Mary’s
not compromise on technical detail and rigour in College, Oscott in Birmingham
promoting Catholic thinking in bioethics.
• Convening the Anscombe Ethics Forum to
6. Contributing to the research life of the Centre: support medical students and others through
Organising leading-edge, high calibre academic regular talks, discussion and contact with
conferences and publishing academic writing. like-minded doctors and other healthcare

Impact and Achievements of • Convening reading groups on moral philosophy

the Education Officer Post
in Oxford

• Publishing academic and popular articles
The Centre’s current Education Officer, Michael
Wee, has been in the post since October 2016, and • Providing INSET sessions for teachers
has been both building on and expanding the work
of his predecessor, Stephen Barrie (2007-2016). • Developing the Centre’s Ethos project, which
While the exact impact of the Centre’s Education later led to the publication of the book Thinking
Officer post is difficult to quantify, it is possible to Christian Ethos: The meaning of Catholic
list some of the achievements of postholders over education (co-authored by the Director, David
the last few years: Albert Jones and the then-Education Officer,
Stephen Barrie), a widely acclaimed resource for
• Giving lectures and presentations to diverse Catholic teachers
audiences across the UK, ranging from school to
university groups (e.g. university chaplaincies, • Organising, marketing and delivering Centre
pro-life societies) and community audiences conferences, as well as providing IT support
for live broadcast and recording of conference
proceedings, and for live audience interaction
with speakers for overseas viewers online

• Developing a wider web and social media
presence for the Centre to better disseminate
bioethical articles and resources produced by
Centre staff

• Raising the Centre’s profile via networking
with interested parties such as medical students,
academics of other disciplines, and the media

All these illustrate the vital role that the Education
Officer plays in the life of the Centre, whose public
outreach forms a core part of its mission of service
to the Catholic community and the wider public.

The following sample of the current Education
Officer’s output shows the breadth of his
The Education Officer helps the Centre plan, advertise and engagement both with bioethical issues and with
deliver leading-edge, high calibre academic conferences different target groups:
Talks (selected) questions of bioethics, whether as a doctors, a
patient, or a consumer of mass media. In reaching
- ‘Genetic Engineering and Catholic Ethics’, out to students, recent graduates, and professionals
Catholic Men’s Society of Great Britain, 9 Sep of different backgrounds the Education Officer’s
2017. work ensures that the Catholic message on the
dignity and irreplaceable value of each human
- ‘Euthanasia and Virtue Ethics’, Wimbledon person is heard by as many as possible. Schools
College sixth form students, 7 Jul 2017. and universities have pride of place in this mission,
as ethical attitudes later in life are often shaped by
- ‘Assisted Reproductive Technologies: Ethics and one’s formative years in education, and bioethical
Political Language’, Catholic Parliamentary and issues are dealt with in school curricula and in
Public Policy Interns, 23 Jun 2017. university reading lists. The Education Officer post
helps ensure the Centre will be able to respond
- ‘Catholic Bioethics: When does life begin?’, more effectively to the needs of students and
Durham University Catholic Society, 26 Apr 2017. teachers who wish to deepen their exploration of
- ‘Human Beings and Human Persons: Are they
the same thing?’, Stowe School Philosophy The Centre is thus keen to maintain this post, and
Society, 7 Dec 2016. contributions to this end are warmly welcomed.

Articles (selected) Costs
- ‘Artificial wombs could radically change the Funding for the Education Officer post was until
abortion debate’, Catholic Herald, 25 Aug 2017, recently sustained by the generosity of a single
p. 24. benefactor. As this is no longer the case, the Centre
is looking to raise funds from other donors, whether
- ‘Genetics, identity and three-parent babies’, The individuals or trusts, to be able to keep this post for
Straits Times, 7 Jul 2017, p. A24. the next five years. Donations to this appeal would
go directly towards the aim of communicating and
- ‘The Demise of Language and the Rise of disseminating Catholic thought on bioethics.
Cloning’, Public Discourse: Ethics, Law, and the
Common Good, 22 Mar 2017. Costs in 2018 will be approximately £26,370, which
includes gross salary, pension and the Centre’s
- ‘The new Down’s Syndrome screening test and National Insurance contributions.
the culture of life’, Oxford Students for Life Blog,
21 Nov 2016. To keep pace with inflation the Centre will require
an approximately 3% increase per annum, thus
- ‘Britain will never be an equal society as long approximately £27,158 in 2019 rising to £29,670 in
as we allow disability-selective abortion’, Catholic 2022.
Herald Online, 21 Oct 2016.
  We are looking in particular for people to make a
commitment to donating each year for the next five
Conclusion years, though one-off donations towards the post
will also be extremely welcome. If you feel you are
The Education Officer is a strategic post enabling able to support this appeal or if you would like to
the Anscombe Centre to fulfil a vital aspect of its discuss the possibility further, please contact:
mission, which is to provide ethical advice from a
Catholic perspective to healthcare professionals, Gwen McCourt, The Anscombe Bioethics Centre
biomedical scientists, and the wider public. 17 Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2NA
In the present age, no one is exempt from facing Tel: 01865 610 212
February 2018