Development of a core course in bioethics


In the process of promoting ethics teaching programs there is a need for setting standards and criteria for ethics teaching programs. The quality of existing programs is extremely heterogeneous.

An Advisory Expert Committee for the Teaching of Ethics was established to assist the UNESCO Secretariat in executing the Ethics Education program

The first task of the Committee was the development of a proposal for a core course in the area of bioethics. This course proposal is based on the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights.

The Committee met in Paris in July 2005 (Report), March 2006 (Report), June 2006 (Report), August 2006 (Report), July 2007 (Report) and June 2008 (Report) to discuss the draft proposal.

A consultation meeting took place in Paris on 4 and 5 July 2007 (Report). In cooperation with TWAS 24 experts (from Argentina, Brazil, Cameroun, Canada, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, South Africa, Surinam, Togo, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom) were invited to provide feedback on the draft proposal for a core course in bioethics. On the basis of the feedback and comments, the Advisory Committee revised the proposal. The final version became available early 2008.

One result of the consultation meeting was that the proposal is divided in two parts: (1) the description of objectives and syllabus of the units, and (2) the cases, illustrations and resource materials which will be more diversified according to regions and culture.

As soon as the proposal was finalised, three subsequent steps were undertaken

  • development of multimedia resources (with movies) in order to provide learning materials
  • production of case books with supportive and illustrative materials
  • introduction of the core course in university programmes in different Member States as a pilot project to test the course and obtain feedback for further improvement.
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