UNESCO Chair Correspondent Br. Michael Baggot shared his international Chair experiences with students of the Newman College and Thomas More College Rome programs on March 10. The talk “Evangelium Vitae in the Modern Areopagus” was the latest installment in the Priest, Poets & Philosophers series. Dr. Caitlin Smith Gilson, former Chair of the Philosophy Department at the Pontifical College Josephinum and current Dean of Newman College’s Rome Program, founded the conference series in order to bring interdisciplinary insights to bear upon contemporary concerns.
Baggot first highlighted his visit to the New York Headquarters of the United Nations on the occasion of an exhibit of winning pieces from the first Bioethics Art Competition. He then discussed the chair’s work at its base in Rome, highlighting the annual summer bioethics courses that enjoy the presence of thinkers from around the world. He then explained the Chair’s series of meetings on Bioethics, Multiculturalism and Religion, which was devoted to human rights in Hong Kong and social responsibility in health Mexico City. Sharing these experiences enabled Baggot to reflect upon the nature, challenges and value of interreligious and multicultural dialogue regarding the major issues of global ethics that shape society across the world.
As part of the World Week of the Brain, a preview of the Brain Awareness Week 2015 sponsored by the Dana Foundation, was held March 12, 2005 in the Universitity Regina Apostolorum in Rome dedicated to the question "Can neuroscience in the courtroom help us understand the complexity of human behavior?"
Can our personality change as a result of a brain tumor? If so, how drastically? What role does our brain play in our ability to understand and will? Various experts explored these questions throughout the day of interdisciplinary reflection.
The event began with an introduction from the Rector of the European University of Rome, Prof. Luca Maria Galicia, and the introduction from lawyer and Director of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights of Roma, Prof. Alberto García.
In the intervention “Neurosurgery between brain and personality,” Prof. Aldo Spallone, neurosurgeon and director of the Neurological Center of Latium Rome explained a clinical case that caused a profound transformation of personality and social experience.
Neuropsychological assessment, if used properly, can be a valuable tool in diagnostic of the patient. Dr. Alberto Passerini, psychiatrist and president of SISPI (Milan - Rome), in his speech entitled “An interdict is one who does not understand anything,” explored the dignity of the person in forensic psychiatric evaluations. Dr. Manuela De Palma, psychologist and psychotherapist of SISPI (Milan - Rome) discussed the use of neuropsychological assessment and clinical findings in the legal field. The two specialists presented and discussed a recent court case of alleged disqualification of an elderly 84 year old suffering from neurodegenerative disease. The Italian judge, Dr. Antonella Frizilio spoke on two Italian court cases which mark the first time in Italy that genetics and neuroscience have entered the courtroom.
Neuroscience and psychiatry do not only affect the Italian criminal law; they also benefit ecclesiastical law, especially in the context of delicate judgments of matrimonial nullity. A judge of the Roman Rota, Msgr. John Vaccarotto, spoke on the relation between Canon Law and contemporary neuroscience.
The Roman afternoon on Neurolaw ended with philosophical reflection on personal responsibility in the legal field by Prof. Claudia Navarini moral philosopher and Associate Professor at the Faculty of Psychology of the European University of Rome and with a reflection on Neurobioethics from Prof Alberto Carrara, Fellow of the UNESCO Chair in Roma.
UNESCO Chair Director Alberto García contributed an article to the 2015 book “Global Bioethics: What for?” in honor of the 20th anniversary of the UNESCO’s Bioethics Programme. In his entry “Twenty years fostering convergence and cooperation in global ethics,” García reaffirms the principle mission of the Chair, which “consists in creating a forum of diverse bioethics leaders, delivering a common framework to guide the application of bioethical principles, and informing and influencing ethical, legal and public opinions, decisions and actions relative to medicine, life sciences, and human rights and responsibilities.” He insists that relativism and individualistic subjectivism offer only an apparent solution to the bioethical issues discussed and debated in today’s globalized society. While respect for diversity and pluralism is of utmost importance, such respect should never be used as a pretext to disregard the human rights and dignity of each person. García exhorts participants in bioethical dialogue are to build intellectual and moral bridges between individuals of different backgrounds so as to offer effective responses to the difficulties that plague mankind. A file of the new book can be found online here.
The first issue of Studia Bioethica for 2015 has been published and is now available online here. The text is dedicated to the theme of “Social Responsibility in Bioethics” and includes many articles revised in light of discussions held during the Fourth International Bioethics, Multiculturalism and Religion Conference in Mexico City in November 2014. Previous issues of the bioethical journal of the Regina Apostolorum Faculty of Bioethics can be found here.
The Bioethics Art Competition has issued its call to artists for the 2015 competition on the theme “Express the Gift of Healing: Body, Mind & Spirit.” The competition’s website http://www.bioethicsart.org/ features extensive information regarding submission requirements and on past competitions.
The UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights seeks to promote those universal values inherent in all cultures regarding goodness, truth and beauty; to ensure the effective protection of human dignity and fundamental rights; and to stimulate greater interest, social sensitivity, compassion, and discussion of life science, bioethics and human rights.
An artist inspires the contemplation of goodness, truth and beauty in the viewer through a visual creation. Although artists come from diverse backgrounds, it is important to stress the convergence of the way we come together to be one. Art fosters convergence. Therefore, the Chair offers the following encouragement to artists to contribute works of fine art or photography that can foster the art of convergence in global bioethics:
We invite you to explore what is good and bad, to personally discover the truth about humanity, to recognize the inherent dignity of the vulnerable, and to capture the beauty of good behavior. We invite you to create art that deepens appreciation of human life—where Art and Bioethics meet. This is our challenge to you, Artists of the Globe.
In November 2014, UNESCO Chair partner the Anáhuac University hosted the 2011 and 2013 Bioethics Art Competition Winning Pieces in Mexico City. A catalogue of the winning pieces can be found online for the 2011 competition here and for the 2013 competition here.
The VII Congress of Neuroethics in Padova on the theme “Who Feels What? The Neuroethics of brain, mind and consciousness” will take place on May 13-15 in l’Aula Musatti of the University of Padua’s School of Psychology. A call has been made for both papers (click here) and for posters (click here). The event coincides with the II Congress of the Italian Society of Neuroethics and Philosophy of Neuroscience.
Keynote Speakers (among others)
Enrico Alleva, Cnr Roma
Jean-Pierre Changeux, College de France, Paris
Tim Crane, Cambridge University
Walter Glannon, Calgary University
John Harris, Manchester University
Marcello Massimini, Università degli Studi di Milano
Ingmar Persson, Oxford University
Massimo Reichlin, Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Milano
Pier Cesare Rivoltella, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano
The Department of Religion and Philosophy of the Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU), the Centre for Sino-Christian Studies of HKBU and the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights, Rome will again jointly organize the “The Meaning of Social Responsibility in a Free Society” on March 27, 2015. The symposium will invite one prominent local religious leader from Buddhism, Catholicism, Daoism, Islam and Protestantism respectively to share their views on social responsibility from various religious perspectives. After each representative presents, a discussion session will follow among the speakers and the participants.
List of speakers: (in alphabetical order of first name)
Catholicism: Most Rev. Joseph Ha Chi-shing, Auxiliary Bishop of Hong Kong, Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong
Daoism: Master Leung Tak-wah, Chairman, The Hong Kong Taoist Association
Protestantism: Rev. Daniel Ng Chung-man, Senior Pastor, E.F.C.C.-Kong Fok Church
Buddhism: Ven. Sik Hin-hung, Director of Centre of Buddhist Studies, The University of Hong Kong
Islam: Imam Uthman Yang, Imam of Masjid Ammar, Masjid Ammar and Osman Ramju Sadick Islamic Centre, Islamic Union of Hong Kong
Date: 27 March 2015 (Friday)
Reception starts at 6:30pm
- Opening Ceremony: 7pm – 7:15pm
- Public Symposium: 7:15pm - 9:30pm
Venue: Tsang Chan Sik Yue Auditorium (AAB 201), Academic and Administration Building, Hong Kong Baptist University
For enquiries, contact Ms. Ivy Yeung
Executive Officer of the Department of Religion and Philosophy, Hong Kong Baptist University
Tel: 3411 7822 / Fax: 3411 7379 / Email:
UNESCO Chair Director Alberto Garcia will speak alongside with eleven other legal experts at the March 3 conference on “The prosecution of crimes against humanity” at the Università Europea di Roma (click the title for a schedule of the event). His presentation is entitled “The legitimacy and universality of international criminal law in relation to the ethical, religious and cultural diversity of the State.” Garcia is currently teaching a course on “Bioethics, the State and Society,” in which he examines war, war crimes and the notion of crimes against humanity. He highlights the role of the famous Nuremburg Trials and their role the bioethical reflection they sparked regarding human dignity and medical research. A summary of his invervention will be posted on this site after his presentation.
By Michael Baggot
Bioethical thought leaders from six major religions and twelve countries gathered in Mexico City for the Fourth International Bioethics, Multiculturalism, and Religion Workshop and Conference to discuss the role of social responsibility in health from their diverse traditions. The participants dedicated three days to reflection and exchange that based primarily on article 14 of the 2005 UNESCO Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights. UNESCO Chair partner university the Anahuac University hosted the event on November 10-12 as part of their 50th anniversary celebrations. The online speakers list and schedule for the workshop provides further information on the event and its participants.
“I feel like I am coming to a family reunion,” said Dafna Feinholz, Chief of Section for the UNESCO Sector for Social and Human Sciences, regarding the fraternal spirit that permeated the work of attendees. The familial atmosphere among the collaborators is largely due to the fact that many speakers have cooperated in the previous conferences held at Hong Kong in 2013, (watch video) at Rome in 2011 (watch video), and at Jerusalem in 2009 (watch video).
While each session allotted an hour to spontaneous dialogue in response to the three prepared presentations, the conversation inevitably spilled over into the coffee breaks, shared meals, and even the organized tours of Mexico City’s cultural heritage. Dr. John Lunstroth, Professor of Law at the University of Houston, has already taken the initiative to open an internet forum to continue the international discussion on the various themes raised at the Mexico gathering and to prepare for the 2016 workshop and conference planned for Houston, Texas.