Practical Ethics Report

“This project has been the glue bringing together multiple lines of scientific inquiry and deepening our understanding of stakeholder perspectives in a charged regulatory landscape.
None of this work would have been possible without the Practical Ethics program.”

 – Prof. Meghan Davis
Bloomberg School of Public Health, School of Medicine


The Berman Institute of Bioethics is a national and international leader in making sense of and finding answers to new ethical issues arising from rapid gains in health care, public health, and the biomedical sciences. But advances in science and technology increasingly touch aspects of our lives that go far beyond bioethics’ traditional purview.

In response, Berman Institute scholars and their colleagues across Johns Hopkins University have begun exploring contemporary ethical issues that cross academic disciplinary lines and take place in a wide range of professions and circumstances.

These efforts have been driven by the Exploration of Practical Ethics program, made possible by $250,000 in seed funding from Andreas Dracopoulos. Since launching in 2016, the Practical Ethics Program has funded 16 innovative projects, engaging faculty from every division of the university in interdisciplinary research addressing contemporary, real-world ethical challenges.

Their work has resulted in scholarly publications, media relations coverage, partnerships with government officials and industry leaders, and more than $1 million in additional external grant proposals to extend work begun in the Practical Ethics program.

In just three years, the Exploration of Practical Ethics has invigorated ethical research at Johns Hopkins. The Program has inspired collaborations across the university and beyond, bringing faculty expertise to bear on the most pressing issues of our day. And yet we’ve only scratched the surface of what this approach has to offer.

Ethical Robotics: Implementing Value-Driven Behavior in Autonomous Systems

As robots are granted greater autonomy, it’s imperative that they are endowed with ethical reasoning commensurate with their ability to both benefit and harm humanity. The project, led by ethics and robotics experts from the Berman Institute and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, aims to develop an ethical framework for robots, implement the framework by extending existing robot capabilities, and assess the framework’s impact on robot behavior.

“The requirement for working across multiple schools at JHU led to this fruitful collaboration. Without Practical Ethics, I would never have reached out to my co-researcher. This project has fundamentally changed the trajectory of my academic career.”
Johnathon Ehsani
Leon S. Robertson Faculty Development Chair in Injury Prevention
Bloomberg School of Public Health


The Practical Ethics Program required JHU faculty to work with colleagues from other divisions across the university. In addition, researchers have developed meaningful collaborations with institutions worldwide.

“Through Practical Ethics, I discovered a community of like-minded people and resources at Hopkins that I might not have otherwise found, and a meaningful home for my work beyond the Peabody Institute.”

  • Judah Adashi
    Peabody Institute



A primary goal of the Practical Ethics Program is to complete projects with real-world impact. Even with work still in progress, researchers are garnering news coverage, publishing scholarship, and more.

“The grant enabled us to do intensely focused work on the ethics of university community engagement, which has become one of the ongoing priority themes of the Arrighi Center for Global Studies.”

  • Beverly Silver
    Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

View impact of faculty’s work

leveraging success

Researchers are leveraging the success of their Practical Ethics projects to seek additional external funding. Currently more than $1 million in proposals are pending.

“Our submitted $500,000 proposal would further work initiated by Practical Ethics, as well as grow into a new area, how antimicrobial use changes impact management practices on a farm.”

  • Meghan Davis
    Bloomberg School of Public Health

TRACK additional funding proposals