Read the case and apply Catholic social theory to the case. Each student will produce a paper consisting of at least 5 pages (1,250 words). The papers will be typed in double space, 1.25″ margins and 12 pt Times New Roman font. This paper should defend and support an ethical position in the case.
• In this paper, students should focus on defending and supporting an ethical position in relation to the case. • The purpose of this paper is to deepen one’s inquiry into the subject matter by arguing for a particular ethical standpoint in regard to the cases we have studied. • This is not a superficial opinion paper, i.e.,what one liked or didn’t like about a particular case, or a simple statement of how one would resolve the case. • This paper should focus first on demonstrating knowledge of ethical theories and principles learned in this course and using these to defend and support your own ethical position. • The paper should ethically evaluate the specific case the student has chosen in order to support a particular moral position. In this assignment you are being asked to judge the rightness or wrongness of various options taken by decision-makers in the case chosen. • You are not being graded on your opinion, or what you liked or didn’t like about a particular case, so spending a great deal of time and space addressing these issues is not going to improve your grade. • Students should especially avoid sharing their opinions when these are inconsistent with, or contradict the conclusions that logically flow from the position you are defending in the paper. • Students should avoid attempting to address every theory and principle learned in the class to any given case. This will only result in a superficial evaluation. • This paper should reflect a serious grappling with the challenging issues raised by these ethical dilemmas.
The Solar Suitcase:
Dr. Laura Stachel went to northern Nigeria in 2008 to investigate the high mortality rates among women who were having their babies in state hospitals. She never imagined that it would ultimately lead her to establish her own nonprofit solar business, but that is exactly what happened when she took on the challenges posed by unreliable energy sources in the developing world.
Dr. Stachel is an obstetrician/gynecologist who had returned to graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley, for graduate study in public policy. During her course of study, she researched the unusually high rate of maternal mortality in Nigeria, which accounts for 10 percent of all maternal deaths during birth worldwide. Her research brought her to Nigeria where she could witness firsthand the standard practices used during delivery in state hospitals. She discovered that the fundamental problem was not in the policies and procedures of the hospitals, but in something far more basic—the lack of light. Dr. Stachel says, “I witnessed deliveries by kerosene lantern, nursing care by candlelight, and was present at a C-section when the lights went out. I saw women who died when blood transfusions were delayed (due to lack of blood banking) and stillbirths that occurred when doctors could not be located for emergency C-sections.”
Fortunately for Nigeria and the rest of the developing world, Stachel knew where to turn to find a workable solution to this lack of reliable electricity. Her husband, Hal Aronson, was a solar educator, and he began experimenting with ways that portable solar energy could be employed to address these critical medical issues. Eventually, they came up with a solar electrical system that could function independently of the Nigerian electrical grid.
They designed their first system to replace the vital electrical systems of an entire hospital, but then Hal and Laura received requests for smaller, portable systems that could be used at clinics in more rural settings. This gave birth to the Solar Suitcase—literally a baggage-sized case filled with a battery, LED lights, and solar cells. The solar cells convert sunlight into electricity, which is stored in the batteries and then used to run the LEDs at dark or if the electrical grid fails. Now Nigerian delivery rooms could continue to safely function at night, even when the power failed.
Originally, the systems were built by hand, using parts and supplies available over the counter and a volunteer labor force. However, with the assistance of grants and foundations, We Care Solar developed a design that could be factory manufactured, taking advantage of economies of scale to ramp up production, while at the same time keeping costs reasonable for cash-strapped health clinics in developing countries.
As with the One Acre Fund, the results speak for themselves. In one hospital, maternal deaths decreased by 70 percent after the Solar Suitcase was installed. Clinics no longer turn away patients at night, so the number of patients served by these caregivers has increased by 16 percent overall.
Dr. Jacques Sebisaho, founder of Amani Global Works, a health-care organization told one of the most inspiring stories. He used the Solar Suitcase on a recent trip to Idjwi Island on Lake Kivu in the Congo where he was treating cholera at an outdoor infirmary. For the first time in the history of the region, no one died during the cholera outbreak. The normal mortality rate for a cholera outbreak in the area is 50 percent—80 percent of which happen at night.
At this point in the history of their fledgling enterprise, the main concern of We Care Solar is their ability to meet demand. So far, the company has produced and installed hundreds of suitcases, but Stachel estimates that 300,000 or more are needed in clinics around the world. They also are trying to bring the cost of each unit down from its current $1,500 price tag to somewhere under $1,000. This will make the units more affordable and will reduce their replacement cost.
1. Like the One Acre Fund, We Care Solar decided to organize its business around a nonprofit model. Are there advantages to this business model? Why do you think these companies decided to use this model?
2. In what ways does the principle of solidarity apply in this case? When and how did the founders demonstrate solidarity?
3. What considerations—other than price and quantity—might We Care Solar consider as they continue to refine their product to better meet the needs of their customers?
4. Using We Care Solar as a model, can you think of other circumstances in which the application of a relatively simple technology or service made an important difference in the lives of a large number of people?
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