On 19 October 2005, the 33rd Session of the General Conference of UNESCO adopted the
Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights. The Declaration embodies a set of bioethical principles that provides a common global platform by which bioethics can be introduced and strengthened within each Member State, and UNESCO is mandated to promote, disseminate and elaborate these principles for practical purposes.
To implement this mandate, UNESCO has developed a multifaceted capacity-building strategy that involves several mutually-reinforcing projects designed to assist Member States to address ethical issues arising from the rapid progress in medical and life sciences. The Ethics Teacher Training Courses (ETTC) project is an important component of this strategy, which targets the young generation of experts and educators who are engaged in teaching ethics at various academic faculties and institutions around the world.
In recent times, ethics has become an important part of the higher education curricula in various disciplines – not only in medical sciences but also in law, social sciences, public policy, philosophy, and others. In order to gain a clear picture of the state of the art in ethics teaching around the world, UNESCO is mapping existing ethics teaching programmes in its Member States. Over 230 ethics teaching programmes have been identified and entered into the Global Ethics Observatory of UNESCO (GEObs) for easy public access. Teachers interested in launching or strengthening ethics teaching programmes in their institutions can consult the database to find suggestions and ideas from the existing programmes.
The Bioethics Core Curriculum is yet another tool created by UNESCO in order to promote bioethics education around the world. The Core Curriculum, which was developed by a special group of experts from diverse cultural backgrounds, is based on the Declaration and is designed to introduce the bioethical principles of the Declaration to university students. It therefore does not impose a particular model or specific view of bioethics, but articulates ethical principles that are shared by scientific experts, policymakers and health professionals from various countries with different cultural, historical and religious backgrounds. In order to ensure a flexible application of this tool, the Curriculum invites teachers and students to expand its contents and approaches based on the local context.
While practical educational tools, such as GEObs database and Bioethics Core Curriculum are helpful, the quality of ethics education also depends on the substantive and pedagogic competencies of the teacher. In other words, an effective ethics teacher should be knowledgeable about how to teach, as well as what to teach to the students. The ETTC complements the practical ethics teaching tools developed by UNESCO by focusing on the methodology and pedagogy behind ethics education. It aims particularly at building capacity of a young generation of teachers who can serve as agents for expanding and improving ethics teaching programmes in their countries in the near future.
OBJECTIVES OF THE PROJECT
Ethics Teachers Training Courses are designed to:
• introduce the participants to the means and resources of teaching ethics;
• teach the participants the methodologies and methods of teaching ethics; and
• assess and provide feedback on the participants’ demonstrations of teaching skills under the guidance of experienced teachers.
The venue for holding an ethics teaching training course is selected through a negotiation with the institutions hosting the sessions from various countries, paying attention to geographical balance and taking into account the capacity-building and educational needs in specific regions. In the past, the Ethics Teacher Training Courses have been held in the following locations:
• Bucharest, Romania (2006)
• Egerton University Njoro Campus, Kenya (2007)
• Bratislava, Slovakia (2007)
• Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (2007)
• Minsk, Belarus (2008)
• Dubrovnik, Croatia (2010)
Ethics Teaching Training Courses are conducted by a team of experts with extensive international experience in ethics education and cooperation with UNESCO. Usually, a single training (5 days) involves four experts, one of whom may be a representative of the institution hosting the training. UNESCO’s list of experts for the ETTC project includes:
• Dr. Henk ten Have, Duquesne University, Professor and Director, Center for Healthcare Ethics;
• Dr. Amnon Carmi, UNESCO Chair in Bioethics, University of Haifa, Israel;
• Dr. Daniella Keidar, The International Center for Health, Law and Ethics, Faculty of Law, University of Haifa, Israel;
• Dr. Jan Helge Solbakk, Professor of Medical Ethics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Norway;
• Dr. Bert Gordijn, Director of Institute of Ethics, Dublin City University, Ireland;
• Dr. Amin Kashmeery, Professor of Physiology, Centre for Islamic Biomedical Ethics, University of Durham, United Kingdom and Head of the Bioethics Section of King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia;
• Dr. Abdulaziz Al Swailem, Director of the Natural Resources and Environmental Research Institute, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia;
• Dr. Berna Arda, Professor of Medical Ethics, Ankara University, Turkey.
PARTICIPANTS AND SELECTION CRITERIA
Each training course accommodates from 20 to 30 participants. The announcement of the course, made as soon as the venue and dates of the ETTC become available, provides the application form for all interested candidates. The decisions concerning admission to the course will be made on the bases of the following criteria:
• Masters degree (in areas such as law, medicine, philosophy, ethics, social sciences);
• University position (allowing for teaching experiences);
• Age preferably between 30 and 45 years;
• Good command of English language;
• Motivation letter (2 pages, in English) stating the trainee’s reasons for participating in the course and expectations concerning the use of the acquired knowledge.
There is no tuition fee for participating in ETTC. However, the participants are expected to cover the charges related to their travel to the venue, and their lodging and food in the duration of the training.
Some host institutions offer various scholarships for specific categories of students. For instance, the Inter University Centre in Dubrovnik, Croatia, which is collaborating with UNESCO in organizing ETTC on its premises, offers scholarships (covering food, travel and accommodation) for participants from the following countries: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kyrgyzstan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, Georgia, Russian Federation, Serbia and Ukraine.
The participants in ETTC are also eligible to apply to UNESCO’s fellowship programme, by submitting an application through the UNESCO National Commissions of their countries. The selection process for this option is rather time-intensive, and therefore the potential applicants are encouraged to apply early. The information about this option can be obtained from the official Web Site of UNESCO Fellowships Programme.
The following reading materials are available for the ETTC participants free of charge from UNESCO web site (www.unesco.org/bioethics) and other web resources:
• Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, UNESCO, 2005.
• Bioethics Core Curriculum: Section 1 – Syllabus, UNESCO, 2008.
• Guide 3: Educating Bioethics Committees, UNESCO, 2007.
• Informed Consent A. Carmi, 2004.
• Classroom communication, D. Keidar, 2005.
The teachers will assume that each participant has obtained and studied the reading materials ahead of the commencement of the course.
Each participant will also be expected to prepare a “teaching class,” which will receive feedback and evaluation from the experts. Participants can select a topic in ethics according to their own interest and expertise, and prepare a 15 minute-long “class” in a format of a teaching session, to demonstrate his or her teaching skills. The audience of this presentation will be the group of fellow participants as well as the teachers. The teachers will provide feedback and advice based on their experiences.
Participants need to have appropriate insurance for illness, disability and accidents so that they are covered for such costs when travelling to and from the ETTC venue and while taking part in the course. UNESCO cannot take any responsibility for insurance issues.
For additional information, please contact Mr. Irakli Khodeli (firstname.lastname@example.org; +33 (0) 1 45 68 44 33) at Bioethics Section, Division of Ethics of Science and Technology, Sector for Social and Human Sciences, UNESCO.