My Story

Helping young people make well-informed decisions

Hello and welcome! I’m Deborah Stevens and here is a little about me and my work.

As a 17 year old who was passionate about all things ‘sciencey’, I headed off to university to get myself a degree.

I loved my courses in developmental zoology, embryology and genetics. And I was able to indulge my interests in human behaviour and the link between the physical and the psychological.

I left university with a Bachelor of Science in Zoology and Psychology.

I became a primary school teacher and then, after six years, I began teaching maths, science and physics at a secondary school. I enjoyed using a variety of ways to engage students with these subjects such as story-telling, role plays, oral presentations, discussions, debates, art, literature and music.

I loved being a teacher. And realising that classroom teaching incorporated a significant degree of social work, and child and family counselling, I continued my education in psychology and counselling, undertaking intensive courses in grief counselling, couple-communication and youth and mental health.

Following the birth of my second child, and in response to the closure of my local maternity hospital, I took a step outside the classroom and established a medical practice in partnership with a GP. The emphasis was on maternal and child health which lead to my discovery of bioethics – at that time, a new area of academic study

Bioethics was my first formal introduction to philosophy. I had studied embryology and genetics, but we had never explored questions such as “when does human life begin?”.

I became intrigued with the area where science and philosophy intersect, how this could be applied to the real world and the degree of personal reflection that the discipline of bioethics provoked.

This fascination led to a Masters in Bioethics and then a PhD in Bioethics Education. During my PhD, I discovered a passion for provoking discussion and debate around the ethical use of scientific and technological developments. I’ve had the pleasure of working with medical students, law students and secondary students on topics as diverse as artificial intelligence, surrogacy, privacy and social responsibility.

I’m intrigued by the wide-reaching nature of Bioethics – it’s relevant to journalists and the way ethical issues are conveyed in the media. Artists and musicians raise ethical issues through their works and it impacts economists investigating poverty and marketers promoting new technologies.

Bioethical issues fully engage students across all ability levels. My goal is to use bioethics to help our young people to make well-informed decisions in a technologically and socially changing world.

My hope is that, no matter your subject or student level, you can make use of my experience and the resources on this website to help achieve that goal.

Dr Deborah Stevens

A leading researcher and educator in the field of bioethics, Deborah is a consultant in secondary school and public bioethics education.

Deborah designs and delivers professional development seminars for teachers across New Zealand, Australia and Asia. Author of New Zealand’s first stand-alone bioethics curriculum,

Deborah provides expert advice on implementing the values and key competency/capability aspects of the New Zealand and Australian curricula.

Deborah’s knowledge of the impact of contemporary culture on citizens’ values development, decision making, behaviour and wellbeing is grounded in her background in science, psychology, education and public medicine. Her research shows that bioethics education provides an effective forum for students to critique the origin and structure of their personal worldview and to understand the worldviews of others.

Deborah’s captivating half and full day seminars for intermediate and secondary school students encourage young people to critically engage with bioethical issues. After engaging students through narratives presensted via drama, video, music, art or good old story-telling Deborah’s interactive sessions then involve students in a wide variety of thinking activities including THE bioethX FACTOR, The Soap Box and the Bioethics court.

Deborah is also in high demand as a conference presenter. An engaging story-teller, Deborah uses authentic cases to explore contemporary bioethical issues and the variety of ethical perspectives that members of a diverse society may apply to them.

  • PhD, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand
  • Master of Bioethics, Monash University, Melbourne
  • Bachelor of Science, Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand
  • Diploma of Teaching, Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand
  • Trained councillor, including education in relationship and grief counselling, youth and mental health.
  • Royal Society of New Zealand
  • New Zealand Association of Science Educators
  • Presenter and participant, Societies in Transition summer school, University of Jena, Germany
  • Keynote presenter, 11th Australasian Mercy Secondary Schools Association biennial conference
  • Keynote presenter, Bioethics Education conference, National University of Singapore
  • 11th World Congress of Bioethics, Rotterdam
  • New Zealand Bioethics Association Conference, Dunedin
  • Australian Association for Professional and Applied Ethics
  • 11th Asian Bioethics Association Conference and 5th UNESCO ethics roundtable, Singapore
  • 10th World Congress of Bioethics, Singapore
  • Australasian Bioethics Association and Health Law Conference, Adelaide
  • Independent Schools of NZ Conference
  • Methodist Church of New Zealand conference
  • Keynote Speaker – Association of Religious Education Teachers and School Chaplains National conference
  • UNESCO Asia-Pacific Conference on Bioethics Education, Seoul
  • Marion Pryer Memorial lecture
  • Eastbourne Winter Series
  • New Zealand Bioethics Association Conference, Dunedin
  • Keynote Sspeaker – New Zealand Churches Education Commission Conference
  • Australasian Bioethics Association Conference, Sydney
  • Numerous presentations to student, teacher, community and church groups across New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom

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