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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 this 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.


All coursework (except the online Fundamentals of Research and Scholarship) takes place at the South Bend campus. The scholarly project can be done remotely.

Curriculum and Timeline

Students completing the Ethics, Equity, and Justice concentration fulfill the same core curriculum as students in other concentrations. The didactic components provide a strong academic and experiential foundation in medical ethics, equity, and justice topics that are vital for completion of the core curriculum project and product. The journal club provides a platform for students to have longitudinal discussions about concentration-related topics with a cohort of students and faculty.

Recommended Pathway

 This table shows that the first and second topic specific courses should be completed during phase one in year one. The third topic specific courses, part one, should be completed during the summer between first and second year of med school, while part two should be taken in phase two. The fourth topic specific course should be taken during phase one in year two. The two remaining courses, project and product, are longitudinal. The project can begin as soon as phase two, while the product should begin during phase three. Both the project and product should conclude on or before the end of fourth year.

*Available mid-December to mid-February.

 Students determine if a concentration pathway will fit in their schedule by contacting concentration co-directors. 


Scholarly Project Topic Examples

Students work with faculty to complete a project in a relevant topic based on student interests. Students are welcome to come up with their own project idea. Potential project topics include, but are not limited to: 
  • Virtue ethics
  • Clinical ethics
  • End of life care
  • Health disparities
  • Community medicine
  • Social determinants of health
  • Disability ethics
  • Ethics in STEM education
  • Innovations in health access
  • The opioid crisis
  • The science of compassion


Students should reach out to co-directors with any questions about this concentration.

Rev. Joseph Kotva Jr., PhD

Adjunct Instructor and Co-director Summer Community Health Innovation Program

Bio and Contact Information

4780-Fox, Mark

Mark D. Fox, MD, PhD, MPH

Associate Dean, IUSM South Bend

Bio and Contact Information

map shows the location of the ethics, equity and justice concentration in south bend
MD Student News

In their words: Scholarly Concentration Q&A with Ethics, Equity and Justice co-directors

Mark Fox, MD, PhD, MPH, and Joseph Kotva, PhD, share details on the Ethics, Equity and Justice Scholarly Concentration, which provides medical students with the basic skills for separating the morally beneficial from the morally troubling practices of medicine.