Ethics. Research. Community.

The Color of Bioethics

I would like to take you through a thought exercise. More often than not, we are reflecting on more sober, serious topics but I would like to invite you think about a different question today: what is the color of bioethics? To some this may seem like a silly question and maybe it is. However, as we move towards an increased professional presence we need to reflect on our image, including color. We reflect on how we present ourselves in body language, communication, and writing but why not color as well?

In the professional marketing world, a lot of thought is given to color.  As professionals, we are sometimes trained to wear certain colors during interviews, presentations, or even a meeting.  Wear bright bold colors like red when trying to make a bold assertive statement. Wear lighter colors such as blue when you have to say bad news.  We worry about the color of power point slides.  Organizations spend hours analyzing the color of their logo and even time deciding what color to paint their office walls. Advertisers carefully construct commercials based on color appeal and businesses market products through color.

Color is a consideration and creates meaning.  It can represent organizations or even disease awareness. Red is the color of organizations like the American Red Cross and diseases like HIV/AIDs or heart cancer. Purple is for domestic violence.  Pink represents breast cancer.  We attempt to make waiting rooms comforting by having warm colors such as pale yellow and pink.  White represents physicians and hospital walls.  Each color has a meaning and evokes an emotion. We associate colors with emotions.  Red with blood, love, and anger and blue with sadness and tears.  Color has different meanings in different cultures.  For example, in the United States white is a traditional bride color while in India it is red. Black is the color of mourning in the United States while it is white in India.

So, what is the color of bioethics? A diverse profession that strives to appreciate culture as part of its discipline. Is there a color that adequately captures all that we do? We can look to professional logos for guidance but that may not be as helpful in an individual setting. In order to truly answer this question, we must first answer: what is at the heart of bioethics? What do we want the world to perceive about our profession? This is a message we can send through a color but what should that color be? Many people talk about ethics as dealing in shades of gray. Okay which gray? A cloudy storm sky gray or a soft gray kitten?

I myself do not know if there is a real answer. And some of you may still be convinced that this is not a serious question to be contemplating. In either event, take a second to think about this question, take a breather, even if it just for the fun of it.

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and a Graduate Certificate in Clinical Ethics. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our website.

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