29.06.2011 - Social and Human Sciences Sector

Ethics Teachers Training Course in full swing in Serbia

This week (27 June – 2 July), students from various universities across Serbia come together in Belgrade for the Ethics Teachers Training Course (ETTC), designed by UNESCO’s Bioethics Programme to fulfill its mandate in ethics education. It empowers a young generation of teachers with pedagogic skills needed for successful teaching of ethics at various levels and faculties of higher education. Since its inception in 2006, the course has been held in Bratislava, Bucharest, Dubrovnik, Minsk, Nairobi and Riyadh.

The training course, hosted this time by the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, is a significant departure from the conventional teaching paradigm in which a teacher imparts information upon students in a one-way exchange. Instead, the ETTC participants find themselves in the shoes of their instructors, engaging with their peers in a simulated teaching environment that compels them to use the newly acquired educational techniques to guide others through the complex maze of bioethical dilemmas.

While interactive education is gaining ground in many academic disciplines, it has a special significance for teaching ethics. The knowledge of universal principles of bioethics, enshrined in the standard-setting instruments of UNESCO, is necessary, but not sufficient to deal with the real life situations that often involve two or more such principles in a mutually-contradictory manner.

The traditional delivery of a lecture on any aspect of bioethics can hardly prepare doctors, scientists, researchers and other professionals in health and life sciences to make ethical decisions under tremendous time and emotional constraints. The depth of bioethical dilemmas are best exhibited in concrete cases, and it is precisely through such case-based discussions, analyses and role-playing that the participants of the ETTC learn about ethical problems involved and the ways of addressing them.

After the completion of the course in Belgrade, the international team of prominent ethics educators will travel to Dubrovnik (Croatia) to hold the same course at its Inter-University Center from 4 to 8 July 2011. This year, additional ETTC trainings will also be organized in Baku (Azerbaijan), Nairobi (Kenya), and Windhoek (Namibia).

The Ethics Teachers Training Courses will further expand the circle of ethics teachers who have acquired critical pedagogic and technical skills and who serve as key agents for disseminating bioethics principles espoused by UNESCO. 

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