Professor Craig Konnoth, who is joining the University of Virginia School of Law faculty this summer, has been named a 2024 Greenwall Faculty Scholar.

Considered one of the top fellowships in the field, the Greenwall Faculty Scholars Program in Bioethics “helps build the next generation of leaders by supporting early-career faculty members to carry out innovative bioethics research,” according to the organization’s website. Since 2002, the Greenwall Foundation has supported over 60 scholars from 40 different institutions.

For a term of three years, the award will fund Konnoth’s project, “Bioethics in Movement Advocacy.”

Konnoth will examine how activists, including those associated with LGBT, religious and racial justice movements, use medical frames and terms to bolster their claims, such as describing gender dysphoria as a disability, or racism as a virus.

“This project considers how these medically inflected ethical arguments relate to bioethics, whether and when they count as bioethics, how social advocates and bioethicists might influence each others’ arguments, and the ethical concerns of such techniques,” an abstract about Konnoth’s proposed research states. “By considering when ethical arguments grounded in medical frames count as bioethics, this project raises vital questions about the nature of bioethics itself.”

Konnoth works on issues pertaining to health and civil rights, law and sexuality, and health data regulation. His scholarship examines how medicine can be used to make normative claims and produce social change. He is also active in LGBT rights litigation and has filed briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court and the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on LGBT rights issues.

“Engaging in social justice advocacy, I realized that movements and individuals draw on many traditions beyond the law to produce change,” Konnoth said. “As medicine increases in importance in our everyday lives, it is important to understand how it plays a role in movement advocacy. I thank the Greenwall Foundation for this opportunity, and am excited to join the Greenwall community.”  

Konnoth formerly was an associate professor at the University of Colorado, and was a Sharswood and Rudin Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School and New York University Medical School. He has also served as a deputy solicitor general with the California Department of Justice.

His scholarship on bioethics includes “Medicalization and the New Civil Rights,” published in the Stanford Law Review in 2021, and the co-authored article “Ethical Issues in Gender Affirming Care,” published in the journal Pediatrics in 2018.

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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