Spring 2006 Table of Contents
Celebrating Our Community
Dentistry Professor Teaches Ethics to Arts and Science Students

Dr. Frederick G. More

In the fourth week of the ethics seminar he teaches each fall at the NYU College of Arts & Science, NYUCD Professor of Epidemiology & Health Promotion Dr. Frederick G. More presents his students with a dilemma. Walking to the front of the classroom after a screening of Shattered Glass, a movie depicting how journalist Stephen Glass was exposed for fabricating articles in the New Republic in the late 1990s, Dr. More asks his students, "How would you react if you discovered that Mr. Glass had gone on to law school, passed the bar exam, and applied for a license to practice law in New York State? If you were to advise the New York State Bar Association, which is considering the ex-reporter's application, would you say Mr. Glass, charged with unprofessional conduct, yet never convicted of a crime, should be allowed to practice law?"

In fall 2004, after a very successful experiment the previous year in which Dr. Ralph Katz, Professor and Chair of Epidemiology & Health Promotion, presented a course in the Freshmen Honors Seminar Series of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), Dr. Matthew Santirocco, Dean of CAS, invited Dean Alfano to nominate another senior faculty member to offer an additional Freshman Seminar. Dean Alfano nominated Dr. More to participate in the program designed to increase the number of senior professors teaching CAS freshmen. Based on Dr. More's reputation among dental and master's degree students at NYUCD for enlivening ethics instruction, sometimes by using Hollywood films to highlight real-world ethical dilemmas, Dean Alfano felt that Dr. More was well suited to teach in the CAS Freshmen Honors Seminar series and asked him to submit a proposal to the CAS curriculum committee, which approved it.

The course that Dr. More designed is: Making Choices in Contemporary America: Dedication, Deals, and Deception. "I use popular culture in my lessons because this is a great way to encourage young adults to think about moral issues they will face in their personal and professional lives," says Dr. More. "By portraying how cheating and fabrication ruined a career, Shattered Glass helped me take discussions on certain dishonest, questionable, or controversial practices beyond the "everybody does it, so why should I care?" reactions one often hears. For example, students were inspired to think about what action they would take if they discovered a colleague was abusing drugs and alcohol on the job."

Similarly, Dr. More sparked debates about sensitive ethical issues facing clinical trial investigators when he showed his MS in Clinical Research students Wit, a movie about a late-stage cancer victim whose doctors kept her enrolled in a drug study even as she appeared to be dying from the effects of the medication. The screening was followed by intense discussion about how clinical trials are portrayed to potential subjects, as well as the question of when and how to remove a dying subject from a trial.

Whether using traditional or unconventional teaching approaches, Dr. More strives to keep his presentations relevant. Instead of lecturing second-year dental students about the implications of over-billing and fraud, he invites local practitioners, recruited from the New York Academy of Dentistry, to present hypothetical case studies relating to professional conduct. "My whole emphasis is not on which way is right or wrong," he explains, "but on getting students to reflect on a dilemma, analyze how others have dealt with it, and consider a course of action. Ultimately, each individual must make his or her own decisions."