It started with an idea from a donor to create an ethics center that would focus on issues that affect Californians.
Less than two years after the suggestion was made, the faculty emeritus-funded California Center of Ethics and Policy (CCEP) is up and running, just finishing up its first semester-long seminar on “Health Care Justice and Health Care Access in California.”
“For the most part, I think it went very well,” said Philosophy Professor Michael Cholbi, director of the CCEP. “It’s an opportunity to do a really deep dive in a way that is not easy for students to do otherwise.”
Philosophy Professor David Adams taught the first seminar, using his expertise in bioethics to put together the course.
In addition to the semester-long advanced seminar, which required the students to apply to be fellows, the center hosted a student conference featuring original research and a series of public lectures on campus related to health care.
The center is getting notice for its work. The National Endowment for the Humanities recently awarded the CCEP and the Veterans Resource Center a $65,000 grant to expand the CCEP’s awareness among the campus community and the public about its efforts, Cholbi said.
The 2019-20 seminar will focus on war and the military in California culture and the economy.
During a recent lecture open to the campus community, Dr. Michelle Ko, an assistant professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences at UC Davis, talked about disparities in access to health care in California and the Affordable Care Act.
Ko also met with the seven fellows enrolled in the seminar, fielding questions such as the workings of the Affordable Care Act, how to translate research into policy and the stigma of working in rural areas for some medical students.
Jaden Yocom, a junior majoring in philosophy, said the seminar was what he imagined a master’s or Ph.D. course would be — rigorous and requiring students to be self-starters.
“Since I was aspiring to go into medicine as a physician and I had a passion for philosophy, I decided to apply because I wanted to learn more about health care,” Yocom said. “That combination made this perfect for me.”
Zane Landin, a junior majoring in science, technology and society, said he was inspired by an “Ethics, Environment and Society” class he took last year.
When he learned about the fellowship, Landin, who has an interest in public policy, decided to apply. For a required project, he researched on single-payer vs. market-related health care.
He went in thinking one way but came out with a different perspective by the end of the seminar.
“Coming into the class, I wasn’t open to universal healthcare because I didn’t think it would work,” Landin said. “Now, most countries have it, and I think we should adopt it.”
Cholbi said the seminar enabled the fellows to see just how complex health care and health care financing can be.
The lecture topics ranged from maternal mortality to health care costs to the shortage of physicians in the Inland Empire.
“They have learned about so many different facets of health care,” Cholbi said. “The United States is an outlier in how we finance health care, how that impacts different racial and ethnic groups, and how that segues into other issues.”
For more information about the CCEP, visit the center’s website.