Consortium Introduction

The Consortium conducts original research, serves students and faculty, and advances public dialogue and understanding on emerging issues at the intersection of science and society.

Latest News

Bread and cheese

Register for 2016 Healthy Foods Summit: Food, Microbes, and Health

August 25, 2016

Microbes are everywhere in our food system, inhabiting biomes from soil to human, for better or worse. This year's Healthy Foods Summit will be held on Oct. 27-28. On the first, on-campus day, food scientists, microbiologists, and policymakers will present recent research on how these tiny organisms can be better understood and controlled to ensure healthy, safe food for everyone. The second day at the Minnesota Arboretum will be more applied and practical, featuring talks by community farmers, grocery coops, small food business owners and restaurateurs. Early Bird registration fees are available until Sept. 23; student rates are also offered. For a full agenda, locations and to register, visit

Doctor in patient's room with clipboard

Public Invited to Weigh in on Toughest Medical Ethics Decisions

August 24, 2016

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, health care providers at Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans faced a grim choice: in the midst of a crisis, who among their patients should be evacuated to better conditions? For many in the general public, news coverage (and later a book) about what happened at Memorial was the first time they truly became aware of medical rationing. The first article in a new collaboration between the New York Times and Radio Lab, "Playing God," describes an unusual public debate on the subject being led by Dr. Lee Daugherty Biddison and her colleagues at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Dr. Daugherty Biddison is leading a task force that will "make recommendations for [Maryland] state officials that could serve as a national model." She and her team are holding a series of public forums to hear opinions from laypeople on topics like: should a doctor be able to remove one person from a ventilator to give it to another with a better chance of surviving? During cancer drug shortages, how should doctors choose which patients receive them? Should such decisions be randomized, through a lottery, or based on a patient's age or likelihood of survival? Renowned bioethicist Ruth Faden of Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics praised the effort, noting “It’s a novel and important attempt to turn extremely complicated core ethical considerations into something people can make sense of and struggle with in ordinary language.”

Law School Dean Garry Jenkins

New Dean Wants to Reclaim Leadership for Lawyers

August 22, 2016

In an interview in Minnesota Lawyer, the new dean of the University of Minnesota Law School, Garry Jenkins, acknowledges he needs to spend time listening and getting to know students, faculty, and administrators. Having only been in Minnesota for two weeks, a learning curve is inevitable. However, Jenkins brings a rich and diverse background to the job, having worked as an attorney with the New York law firm of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, as chief operating officer and general counsel of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, and most recently, as associate dean for academic affairs at Ohio State University's law school. His breadth of experience will serve him well as he manages changes in legal education and launches new academic programs. Beyond those core areas, Dean Jenkins has another item on his agenda: teaching lawyers leadership skills. According to Jenkins, "We all have the capacity to be leaders and I would love to see the graduates of the state’s flagship law school be a critically important source of leadership in this country. . . . It’s a field that we have ceded to business schools and to me that never felt right." Read the entire interview here.

African American soldier in Vietnam -era uniform

The Hidden Social Costs of an Unequal Military

August 19, 2016

A new paper by Douglas L. Kriner of Boston University and Francis X. Shen, a Consortium affilate faculty member and professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, takes an empirical look at the results of socioeconomic disparities in military service. In "Invisible Inequality: The Two Americas of Military Sacrifice," the authors analyze large existing data sets, including 500,000 American combat casualties over the past 70 years, which reveal that "today, unlike in World War II, the Americans who die or are wounded in war are disproportionately coming from poorer parts of the country." The authors also conducted original surveys of public opinion "to uncover a variety of social, legal, and political consequences of this inequality" and why it is "routinely overlooked by scholars, policymakers, and the public." Read a PDF of the article here.

Graphic for 16-17 events
The Consortium will be presenting a fascinating series of events during the coming academic year. Mark your calendar!  


Deinard Lecture on Law and Medicine

How Patients are Creating Medicine’s Future: From Citizen Science to Precision Medicine 
Tuesday, December 6, 2016 | 11:30-1:30 | Coffman Union Theater | Free and open to the public

  • Ernesto Ramirez, PhD, Quantified Self Labs
  • Prof. Barbara Evans, PhD, JD, LLM, University of Houston Law Center
  • Prof. Kingshuk Sinha, PhD, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota
  • Prof. Jason Bobe, MSc, Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine

Spring Lecture Series: Emerging Diseases in a Changing Environment

Free and open to the public

The Changing Ecology of Infectious Diseases
Prof. Andrew P. Dobson, DPhil
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University
Tuesday, January 24, 2017 | 11:30-1:30 | Mississippi Room, Coffman Union

Ending the Pandemic Era: Science at the Animal-Human-Environmental Interface
Prof. Jonna Mazet, DVM, MPVM, PhD
School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis
Tuesday, February 7, 2017 | 11:30-1:30 | Mississippi Room, Coffman Union

Policy and Preparedness for Emerging Diseases

Julie Gerberding, MD, MPH 
Former director, Centers for Disease Control; Executive Vice President, Merck
Thursday, April 13, 2017 | 11:30-1:30 | Mississippi Room, Coffman Union


Healthy Foods Summit 2016

Food, Microbes, and Health
Thursday, October 27, 2016 | 8:00-5:30 | Commons Hotel, Minneapolis
The Minnesota Response: Working For and Against the Microbes in our Food System
Friday, October 28, 2016 | 8:30-4:00 | Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Chaska

Frontier Issues in Research Ethics

Day 1: National Conference
The Future of Informed Consent: A Century of Law, Ethics, and Innovation
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 | 8:30-5 | Coffman Union Theater
Registration fee: $50 ($35 students) | Scholarships are available: email

Day 2: Annual Research Ethics Day
Free and open to the public
The Challenges of Informed Consent Panel
Thursday, March 9, 2017 | 8:30-1 | Coffman Union Theater

Research Ethics Trainings and Workshops
Thursday, March 9, 2017 | 1:30-3 | Various locations