Professor Udo Schuklenk
Udo Schuklenk calls himself a ‘public philosopher.’
“Considering what taxpayers pay us, they are entitled to benefits from our expertise that go beyond teaching and writing papers in academic journals,” he says.
Dr. Schuklenk has contributed widely to public policy debates during his career, most recently chairing the Royal Society of Canada’s panel on end-of-life decisions in Canada. The issue is increasingly important because the country’s population is aging dramatically.
The panel includes international experts from many disciplines to ensure the discussions extend beyond philosophy and result in firm recommendations. Dr. Schuklenk hopes the panel’s final report, due out at the end of the year, improves end-of-life care for Canadians.
“The thought of dying is horrifying for most people. And the trouble is at the moment the type of care that many people get toward the end of their lives gives them very good reason to be horrified,” he said.
Dr. Schuklenk is the Ontario Research Chair in Bioethics. In the near future, he plans to examine the health policy implications of improved antiretroviral therapy for people living with HIV/AIDS.
“We believe public health policy on this particular issue needs to change,” he said. “The law has not kept up with changing clinical realities.”
In addition to his research, Dr. Schuklenk is joint editor-in-chief of the journals Bioethics and Developing World Bioethics. He recently co-edited 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why we are Atheists, a popular publication that will soon be translated into Polish.
“I think (the book) has done so well because people wanted to see the human face of atheism,” he said.
And staying true to his ‘public philosopher’ approach, he publishes a blog on ethics that has nearly 70,000 hits over the last two years.
“I am thinking about non-academic or non-traditional means to disseminate analysis on topics that concern me,” he said.
Dr. Schuklenk is a professor in the Queen’s Department of Philosophy. Visit his blog.