Trust: The Seventh Annual Northwestern Bioethics and Medical Humanities Conference

Friday, May 3, 2024

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.

The conference will feature a keynote presentation by Faith Fletcher, PhD, MA (Baylor College of Medicine).

Registration will be free and will open in February 2024.



Call for Proposals

We are seeking proposals for short 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.

For this conference we encourage you to think about trust in multifaceted ways. We welcome broad and even unexpected interpretations of the theme.

We also welcome proposals that focus on other topics related to bioethics or medical humanities that are not directly tied to the theme.


Trust is at the core of maintaining the integrity of a society. Trust is particularly essential in healthcare, where a person’s life and well-being are often dependent on the advice and care of others, be they clinicians, healthcare systems, or government entities. For individuals and communities, mistrust can lead to dire health outcomes. Uneven trust in authorities, healthcare systems, and clinicians during the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to devastating rates of infections and deaths. Yet mistrust in healthcare—and untrustworthy healthcare—are not new. Parallels in history include the plague epidemic following the conquest of Andalusia by Spain and the early 20th century influenza pandemic. Other historical atrocities, such as experiments on enslaved women, the syphilis experiments in Guatemala and at Tuskegee, and forced sterilizations in Lynchburg, Virginia, leave many questioning the trustworthiness of both healthcare researchers and clinicians.

Against this checkered backdrop, where can trust be found—and earned—in healthcare? How do power differentials or cultural differences between patients and clinicians impact trust? How does the role of money and for-profit entities in healthcare undermine trust in the system? How do political beliefs impact trust in elected officials and their designees in public health? And can trust be actively pursued without suggesting a lack of trustworthiness?


The submission deadline is Monday, January 8, 2024.



Help Spread the Word

Please forward this message on to any local friends and colleagues who might be interested in presenting or attending. Additionally, a PDF flyer is available for printing and posting.


Baldwin Auditorium in the Lurie Research Building (not to be confused with the nearby Lurie Children’s Hospital). 303 E Superior St, Chicago, IL


For More Information

Please contact: Bryan Morrison,