The W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics


An interdisciplinary research unit within the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia, the Centre's work applies diverse methodologies to a wide range of problems, including healthcare practices, business procedures, new technologies.

Mission and Purpose

The W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics (the Centre)'s mission is to advance research and teaching of applied ethics, conceived as the application of normative methods to core issues in science and technology ethics and policy, organizational ethics, animal welfare, health, the environment, and research ethics. The Centre aims to conduct world-class research in applied ethics and to educate the next generation of applied ethics researchers and practitioners. It has, in part, met the challenges of working in this field by successfully seeking funding for several major research programs and a growing number of graduate and post-doctoral students.[1]

Origins and Development 

The Centre was created in 1993 with endowments by W. Maurice Young (LLD) and the Bentall Foundation. [2] 

Organizational Structure, Membership, and Funding

The Centre’s affairs are managed by a Coordinating Committee representing faculty, students and research associates, chaired by the Director of the Centre.[3] 

Specializations, Methods and Tools

The Centre approaches other UBC academic and research units from its position as an interdisciplinary academic centre, and from its mission to advance the research agenda of applied ethics. Its students are drawn from a number of departments and units—including Animal Welfare, the Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability, Nursing and Philosophy—and their research and teaching/supervision focuses largely on Medical Genetics, Law, Political Science, Journalism, Forestry, Botany and Computing Sciences. These relationships and the products of their collaborations place the Centre at the forefront of the movement to create “transdisciplinary” research.[4]

Major Projects and Events

Building a GE3LS Architecture (2002-2010)

Genomics opens up a universe of new possibilities, but also raises many ethical issues that require public debate and scrutiny given Canada’s cultural and regional diversity, and the way new genomic knowledge and applications tend to move societal narratives to new territory. Building a GE3LS Architecture (GE3LS Arc) project was a Genome BC-funded project focused on three primary areas of genome research: food (salmon genomics); Human health (privacy and the use of data banks and blood or tissue sample biobanks); and non-food (forestry genomics). Building on a previously funded project, Democracy, Ethics and Genomics: Consultation, Deliberation and Modelling, GE3LS Arc used consultation methods and computer-mediated technologies to develop an understanding of how people make decisions and their perspectives on genomics research and biotechnology related to human health, food and the environment. The project set out to answer three questions: What social norms do Canadians use to make judgements about genome research and applications (how do Canadians make moral decisions about a policy)? What are the leading moral perspectives on genomics (and what makes different judgements understandable)? And finally, what is the relevance for policy development and implementation (how are worldviews and norms incorporated into policy)? Through its various deliberative public engagements and research projects, the project helped to support dialogue among scientists, policy makers and the public and contributed to the creation of genome-related policy that accurately reflects and responds to public concerns.[5]

Analysis and Lessons Learned

Want to contribute an analysis of this organization? Help us complete this section!


Does this organization publish reports, studies, or other media? Help us complete this section!

See Also

Biobanking in British Columbia

Tasmanian Deliberation on Biobanks


[1] "The W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics," 

[2] "The W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics," 

[3] "The W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics," 

[4] "The W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics," 

[5] "GE3LS ARCH," last modified June 15, 2007, 

External Links

Official website: 


Lead image: UBC Sustainability,