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Telling Time: The Fifth Annual Northwestern Bioethics and Medical Humanities Conference

May 19, 2022

Save the Date

The Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities and the Medical Humanities & Bioethics Graduate Program are excited to announce this one-day conference dedicated to engaging the Northwestern and Chicagoland community in the rich, multidisciplinary research and scholarship of our field.

Registration will be free and will open in February 2022.



Call for Proposals

We are seeking proposals for oral presentations, and invite submissions from health-care providers, fellows, faculty, graduate students and alumni, and medical students who have ties to Northwestern University or other medical centers and academic institutions throughout Illinois.

At this conference we will think about time in multifaceted ways. We encourage broad and even unexpected interpretations of the theme.

We also welcome proposals focusing on other topics related to bioethics or medical humanities.


Time has always been an important feature of our modern world, working in the background to help us make sense of the duration and sequence of events both big and small—from world-changing discoveries and social movements down to the subtle shifts within a day or a clinical encounter. Recently, the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change (possibly the biggest events of our age), have brought time into the foreground and have forced us to reflect on it more intentionally. For example:

  • How is clinical decision making affected when a new disease requires urgent action but relies on information that is clarified gradually?
  • What does an upset sense of time during the daily repetitiveness of lockdown tell us about the plasticity or unreliability of how we perceive and understand the passing of our lives?
  • What can be learned from the public and private debates over whether the Covid-19 vaccines were developed “too fast?”
  • How have historical accounts of previous pandemics, brought to light during these supposedly “unprecedented times,” highlighted how often we forget lessons from the past?
  • What new histories are revealing the causes of today’s social and health injustices, and what new futures are they projecting for tomorrow?
  • How are apocalyptic fears over accelerating climate disorder disrupting our sense of future?


The conference is planned as an in-person event with appropriate health measures. We will adjust to an online format if necessary. Proposers should be willing to present in either format.

The submission deadline is Sunday, February 13 (at 11:59pm).



For More Information

Please contact: Myria Knox,