Ethics, Equity and Justice Scholarly Concentration

Medicine has the capacity for great good or great harm. Disproportionately experienced by marginalized communities, the harm is often perpetrated by well-intended individuals and institutions. This concentration provides the basic skills for separating the morally beneficial from the morally troubling practices of medicine. Additionally, it enables future physicians to better serve and advocate for their most vulnerable patients.

Incorporating rigorous academic inquiry and experiential learning, this concentration covers a range of topics—from clinical ethics to health equity in various communities. By completing this concentration, students join a cohort of like-minded peers and mentors, with rich opportunities for discussion and inquiry through the concentration’s journal club.

The concentration enables students who are interested in epidemiology or community-based research to better understand health inequities. Additionally, for students who are drawn to care for underserved populations by a commitment to social justice, participation in this scholarly concentration will help them in that professional trajectory. The other feature of the Scholarly Concentration in South Bend is the access to mentors from IU School of Medicine, Notre Dame and other community partners who are engaged in and committed to a broad spectrum of topics that fit within this concentration.


The concentration challenges students’ preconceived notions of ethics and justice and how these concerns apply to Western health care. Students will be inspired to attend to matters of moral formation and to creatively engage issues of social justice, especially as related to health and health equity. This concentration equips students to serve on various ethics committees.

The range of potential projects is as wide as ethics itself. A more theoretical project could focus on moral questions that arise from synthetic biology or how we should evaluate the recent claims by a Chinese scientist to have used CRISPR to edit babies genetically. A project could focus on how one or two specific medical specialties tend to both attract and shape physicians into specific character traits, and how we should evaluate those traits. A project could look at the moral significance of friendship and how to sustain morally worthy friendships within the demands of modern medicine. A hands-on project could evaluate the specific risk-distribution of lead poisoning or other environmental hazards within South Bend and efforts to remediate those risks. A project could even address health care’s oversize role in climate change by engaging/evaluating a healthcare system’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint.


Mark D. Fox, MD, PhD, MPH

Mark D. Fox, MD, PhD, MPH

Associate Dean, Director, IU School of Medicine-South Bend
Joe Kotva, PhD

Joe Kotva, PhD

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Medicine

South Bend Campus

Medical students at the South Bend campus benefit from close proximity to the University of Notre Dame, offering a rich campus life in a traditionally collegiate community. Partnerships with universities and hospitals in the South Bend area offer medical students early clinical exposure and diagnostic skills practice. Physicians, residents and hospital personnel are easily accessible to medical students and provide informal clinical training and advice on career planning.