The Portfolio: Honors

IDH 3350

Section 3

Fall 2011


Develop and come to class with a basic understanding of and some media related to a topic that concerns the health professions, healthcare or bioethics.

Identify the primary issues at play.

Identify the scientific concepts underlying this topic.

How does the science influence your attitudes toward this topic?

How could you exert a positive influence in this area?

I think we’re all familiar with the never-ending controversy surrounding stem cell research. Unfortunately, today’s juxtaposition of bioethics and religiosity contributes to a scientific climate stunted by partisan politics and legalized conservative morality.

Central to the stem cell debate are issues of biology, anatomy, cellular reproduction and biological reinstruction. On a metaphysical level, we’ve also got to consider how far we can and should take humanity’s ability to assume the role of creator.

I was raised in a conservative church adamantly opposed to anything savoring of those most feared of all social miscreants, “lib’rals.”

But stem cell research’s power to change lives has changed my mind.

This article from HealthDay will show you why:

In case you’re feeling lazy and disinclined to click the link, this is what’s up. Kids with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) have long been forced to exist in a mere proxy of the vibrant and adventurous experiences so many of us associate with childhood. SCID so incapacitated its victims that doctors coined the moniker “bubble-boy disease.”

However, with the advent of gene therapy, these kids have a shot at rolling down grassy hills next summer. By manipulating a certain virus vector responsible for the disease, scientists have revolutionized our understanding of and ability to treat SCID.

So talk to people who are opposed. Let them know that damaged embryos would otherwise be thrown away. Stem cell research doesn’t take lives: It improves and saves the lives of people already walking the Earth. Seems like some pretty worthwhile science to me.



Come up with creative naming options for our community of learning and activism.

Develop a basic plan for this community, describing its goals, ways to reach those goals, and resource needs.

Investigate novel mechanisms for revolutionizing teaching (sharing information and skills) by doing, mentoring and living, using evidence-based current information from credible sources.

Name: Tampa Momentum Initiative

Goal: The collective desire of this community’s members is to make the world a better place by increasing our positive and decreasing our negative footprints. Our individual means may vary as we work toward this end. However, we will expand our awareness and knowledge of chemistry and science, as well as their interplay with contemporary and future societal challenges. We will strive to recognize how our understanding of these topics can be used to treat one another better, both within and beyond our community, including the world we share.   The core values that support this mission statement are as follows:

  1. Have confidence in our abilities to manifest our passions. Have confidence in the other members of the class, for together we can revolutionize the world.
  2. Respect and actively listen to one another.
  3. Step Up, Step Down. If you are not talking at all in class, allow yourself to step up and make your ideas heard. If you are talking too much, remind yourself to step down and let others speak.
  4. Have fun. It is easier to be creative when we enjoy what we do.
  5. Come to every class inspired, and ready to inspire one another.
  6. Ask questions and be willing to learn. We should feel empowered (not intimidated) by the knowledge we acquire in class.
  7. Challenge ourselves as individuals and as a class.
  8. Encourage and assist one another as we are able.
  9. Build teamwork skills.
  10. Shatter our self‐imposed ceilings (no limits!).
  11. Dream aggressively. We will not be afraid to go outside of the box and embrace unconventional thinking.
  12. Emphasize lateral thinking and reduce limitations imposed by preconceived notions.
  13. Be humble and tread carefully with the ideas of others. Try to be both positive and constructive with criticism.



Define a community-related challenge and clarify why the community should care about and address it.

Regarding this community challenge, develop a basic plan to respond to it, describing goals, potential pathways to those goals, and resource needs.

What would be the best way to inform others about this challenge?

Obtain a credible source to support your arguments.

One-sixth of the world’s population does not have access to clean drinking water.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re in the lucky 5/6 who do. So why should you care?

Water and food are humanity’s two most basic needs. According to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, widely renowned as the preeminent authority of its kind, human education, intelligence, quality of life and economic power cannot be improved until these basic needs are met.

Poor water quality and/or availability means poor health. Poor health means poor infrastructure (and vice versa). Poor infrastructure means poor economics.

And poor economics means global unrest.

As first-world population pyramids stabilize and become heavily weighted at the elderly end, developing countries are following a vastly different trend: Fertility rates remain on the rise, with the vast majority of people in their teens and 20s. Resources, on the other hand, are dwindling.

In essence, by the time 2050 rolls around, the world will be facing economic and social turmoil of unimaginable proportions. The global drinking water crisis has just become your problem.

It’s especially your problem if you live in the United States, like I do. The average individual American consumes between 100 and 175 gallons of water per day. For comparison, in the United Kingdom (where the standard of living is as good or better than ours), the average citizen uses only 36 gallons daily.

In the developing world, you would have 2.64 gallons at your disposal.

So what do we do? The answer, in fact, is clear. The world spends $90 billion dollars a year on bottled water. The United Nations says it would cost one-third of that amount to provide the entire planet with clean water.

The answer is reusable bottles. The problem is corporate greed and systemic industry. Can it change? You bet. Can these workers find new sustainable jobs in a growing green economy? Absolutely. So let your politicians know that you understand what’s going on here. That you understand how Dasani and Aquafina and Evian make a killing through the daily deaths of children suffering disease and dehydration.

Get informed. Get organized. Get going.



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