Lisa Schamber of the Keck School of Medicine of USC is one of 14 medical students chosen to participate in a two-week ethics program this summer in New York, Germany and Poland.
Now in its sixth year of operation, the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (FASPE) is a unique international program that explores the history of the Holocaust as a way to engage graduate students across five different fields (business, journalism, law, medicine and religion) in an intensive study of contemporary ethics in their discipline.
FASPE is predicated upon the power of place, and in particular, the first-hand experience of visiting Auschwitz and traveling in Germany and Poland, where the fellows study the past and consider how to apply the lessons of history to the current ethical challenges of their own professions.
In the pre-World War II era, professionals in Germany were known and respected internationally. Yet, leaders and practitioners in each of the five professions — and often the institutions they represented — played a fundamental role in designing, enabling or executing the crimes of Nazi Germany.
Run under the auspices of the Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in New York, FASPE examines what role professionals in business, journalism, law, medicine and the clergy played in Nazi Germany and underscores that the moral codes governing these essential professions can break down or be distorted with devastating consequences.
A third-year medical student at the Keck School of Medicine, Schamber is considering a career in internal or family medicine.
“I am eager to have the opportunity to discuss with others what we can learn from the mistakes of the past, and how we can incorporate those lessons into our daily medical practice, as well as into our approach to health policy and health care in general,” she said about participating in FASPE.
A graduate in psychology from Wesleyan University in Connecticut, Schamber spent several years after college as an AmeriCorps volunteer at a free medical clinic in San Francisco.
“All of us have the potential to be perpetrators. If we remain silent, we become a participant,” Schamber said. FASPE, she added, will help prepare her for the sorts of ethical challenges she will face as a future physician.
Schamber will join a group of 62 FASPE fellows chosen through a competitive process that drew nearly 1,000 applicants from around the world. FASPE covers all expenses, including transatlantic and European travel, food and lodging.