U.Va. Ethics Professor Appointed to Library of Congress Visiting Post

March 10, 2010 — James F. Childress, an ethics professor at the University of Virginia, has been appointed to the Cary and Ann Maguire Chair in American History and Ethics at the Library of Congress' John W. Kluge Center.

During the appointment, which started in mid-January and continues to mid-May, Childress plans to finish two books. One, on public bioethics, will examine and seek to resolve a wide range of debates about public policies on bioethical issues, such as the allocation of resources in public-health crises. The other will explore the possibilities and limitations of a reconstructed theory of just war.

Childress is the John Allen Hollingsworth Professor of Ethics in U.Va.'s Department of Religious Studies and a professor of medical education at U.Va. He also directs the Institute for Practical Ethics and Public Life.

He has long been involved in national committees examining ethics and public policy. From 1996 to 2001, Childress served on the presidentially appointed National Bioethics Advisory Commission. From 1985 to 1986, he was vice chairman of the national Task Force on Organ Transplantation, and through the years he has served on the board of directors of the United Network for Organ Sharing, the UNOS Ethics Committee, the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee of the National Institutes of Health and many more organizations.

In 2004, Childress received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities. The award "recognizes outstanding contributions and significant publications that have helped shape the direction of the fields of bioethics and humanities." In 2002, he received the University's highest honor, the Thomas Jefferson Award, and in 1990, the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education named Childress as the Professor of the Year in Virginia.

He received a bachelor's degree from Guilford College, a bachelor of divinity degree from Yale Divinity School and a master's degree and a Ph.D. from Yale University. From 1975 to 1979, Childress was the Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. Professor of Christian Ethics at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Chicago and at Columbia and Princeton universities.

Among his numerous publications are "Principles of Biomedical Ethics," "Practical Reasoning in Bioethics," "Who Should Decide? Paternalism in Health Care" and "Moral Responsibility in Conflicts: Essays on Nonviolence, War and Conscience."

Childress is the sixth appointment to the Maguire Chair at the Kluge Center. The chair holder conducts research on ethical issues associated with American history. Research may include the conduct of politics and government at all levels of American life as well as the role of religion, business, urban affairs, law, science and medicine in the ethical dimensions of leadership.

The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress was created to foster a mutually enriching relationship between scholars and political leaders. The Kluge Center presents a new opportunity to attract to Washington the best available minds in the scholarly world, facilitate their access to the library's remarkable collection of the world's knowledge, and engage them in conversation with the U.S. Congress and other public figures.

For information on the Kluge Center, visit www.loc.gov/kluge.

— By Anne Bromley