UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights. Roma, Italy

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UNESCO Chair Fellow Speaks to Harvard Club of Hong Kong

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UNESCO Chair Fellow Fr. Joseph Tham spoke on the ethical issues of providing healthcare in an April 15 talk to the Harvard Club of Hong Kong.

Tham noted that while new technology offers men a longer lifespan than ever, many nations are struggling cover the costs of such advances as they limit their budgets in times of economic crisis.  In his talk entitled “Is the Cost of Healthcare Sustainable? The dilemma of technology in extending lifespan.” Tham addressed the group of Harvard University alumni.

Tham, a trained medical doctor and professor of bioethics in Rome, encouraged the audience to address the fundamental issues involved in various public debates about sustainable healthcare.  He insisted that we must understand well the goals of medicine and the role of technology in our life in order to overcome the tensions that can arise in shaping policy.

He noted that medicine is sometimes presumed to defeat disease completely so as to provide an impossible earthly immortality.  To understand healthcare properly, we must reflect well upon the significance of the unavoidable realities of aging, suffering, and death that touch each of our lives.

Tham concluded with reflection upon the meaning of human nature and man’s openness to trust in the transcendent realities that can offer new purpose to our earthly existence.



Fourth International Bioethics, Multiculturalism and Religion Workshop On Social Responsibility in Bioethics

Mexico City, November 10-13, 2014

dfThree international conferences and workshop on “Bioethics, Multiculturalism and Religion” were held in Jerusalem (2009), Rome (2011) and Hong Kong (2013).  These academic activities sought to foster the art of convergence and cooperation in global ethics among experts in bioethics coming from the world religions including Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Daoism, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism.

Anahuac University is an UNITWIN privileged partner of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights from its very beginning in 2009. As co-organizer of this international workshop and public conferences which will be held in México City at its campus, this will be one of the commemorative events of the 50th Anniversary of Anahuac University’s foundation. This event hopes to reinforce its commitment to integral formation and development of individuals and society through positive leadership.

In Mexico 2014 the workshop will focus on the Principle of Social Responsibility and Health from the perspectives of different religions and cultures. Article 14 of the UNESCO Declaration in Bioethics and Human Rights states in part that:

1.      The promotion of health and social development for their people is a central purpose of governments that all sectors of society share.

2.      Taking into account that the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition, progress in science and technology should advance:

(a) access to quality health care and essential medicines, especially for the health of women and children, because health is essential to life itself and must be considered to be a social and human good

The meeting in México will consist in a three-day workshop where bioethics experts from Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Daoism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Mesoamerican traditions will gather to discuss different papers submitted for this occasion. The collection of these papers will result in the publication of a book.  As means of publicity and involvement of university community and the public we suggest to organize at Anahuac University one or two open events on topics related to sensible bioethics issues in the light of human rights.  See program.

During the days of the workshop and conference, UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights will set up an art exhibition of the winners of Bioethics Art Competition that have taken place in 2011 and 2013. These artworks have been successfully showed in several art venues and institutions: in the United States (at the UN Headquaters in New York and in Houston), Rome and Hong Kong as a correlate cultural activity and environment to illustrate universal values related to bioethics in the light of human rights. The mission of this competition as well as the themes and pictures of the works of art can be found at: www.bioethicsart.org.



UNESCO Chair Fellow Participates in NEUPSYCO 2013

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UNESCO Chair Fellow Fr. Alberto Carrara, LC participated in the First International Congress Advances in Clinical Neurosciences and Psychiatry: Brain and Mind in La Habana, Cuba on November 18-20, 2013.

Two hundred and fifty participants from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba, Italy, Mexico, United Kingdom and United States gathered for the event in Palco Hotel in La Habana, Cuba.  During the three days congress, 80 papers were presented and discussed under the direction of Professor Giuseppe Bersani (La Sapienza University, Rome) and Professor Pedro Valdés Sosa (Cuban Neuroscience Center, Cuba).

Fr. Carrara was one of the two moderators of the final day’s plenary session dealing with “Bioethical Issues in Psychiatry and Neurosciences,” and also delivered the lecture titled: “Neurobioethics and human person.” Fr. Carrara spoke on the importance of neuroscience research in order to clarify some anthropological concepts and therefore provide a more profound definition of human person. His lecture was organized according to six main points.

1. Introduction to neuro-centrism and neuro-mania

2. Neurobioethics: an historical perspective

3. From Neuroscience to Neurobioethics

4. Transhumanism

5. The Human Person considered from the neuroscience point of view

6. Some conclusions related to the neuro-anthropological vision of human being.




Second UNESCO Chair Bioethics Art Competition Exhibit Opens in Hong Kong

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The Second Bioethics Art Competition of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights held its inauguration ceremony in Hong Kong at the Gallery by the Harbour of the Harbour City Shopping Mall on December 7, 2013.

“Through the universal language of art, our competition reaches not only those who study bioethics in the classroom, but all people” announced UNESCO Chair Director Alberto Garcia.

The 15 winning art pieces of the international competition were exhibited during the UNESCO Chair Bioethics, Multiculturalism and Religion Conference at Hong Kong Baptist University, before moving to the Harbour City Gallery.  The exhibition is slated for display in the New York United Nations Headquarters, Rome, Houston and Mexico City in 2014.

“These impressive works of art, if used as tools for teaching bioethics in Hong Kong, would contribute significantly toward the multi-disciplinary learning experience of students.” observed Dr. Vivian Taam Wong, one of the competition’s Hong Kong-based judges.

In 2012, artists were invited to “create an image, with respect for all cultures and religions that speaks to the impact of life sciences for present and future generations.”  In short, participants were given creative liberty to visually “illustrate love, compassion and care” in accord with articles 12 and 16 of the Universal Declaration of Bioethics and Human Rights.

“The use of visual art, which transcends languages and ethnic as well as other traditions, remains a most effective platform for increasing communication and understanding among racial, religious and age groups.” added Dr. Lam Man Kit,  another Hong Kong-based judge.

The competition is fruit of the UNESCO Chair’s conviction that the mission of fostering the art of convergence and cooperation in global ethics is a universal mission that entails the participation of individuals from all backgrounds and professions.

“Drawing from so many cultures allows those who see the works to get a better understanding of how people in other places experience vulnerability, ask questions about life, express compassion, and challenge minds and medicine.” added American judge Dr. Colleen M. Gallager.

Batley_A_GBACIMG_1067The competition was divided into the categories of Fine Arts, Photography and Student Art (ages 13-17), with a Best of Show and four other winning pieces for each category.  Artists from 18 different countries submitted work to an international panel of 10 judges.

An image of the winning works and a brief explanation of the piece from the respective artist can be seen on the competition’s official website www.bioethicsart.org/2013-competition.


Winners of the 2013 Bioethics Art Competition Announced

The UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights is proud to announce the winners of its 2013 Bioethics Art Competition.  A best of show was chosen from among five winners in the international competition’s three categories.  Clicking on the categories below will allow you to view the winning pieces along with the artist’s description of his work.

Fine Arts

Best of Show: Giovanni Gasparro
Winners: Eric Carson, Andrea Colella,
Carmelo Maria Carollo, Giacomo Rizzo


Best of Show: Ben DeSoto
Winners: Joni Kabana, Barbara Doran, Jerry Galea, Carlo Paluzzi

Student Art

Best of Show: Ka Wun Cheung
Winners: Eileen Hwang, John McCabe,
Emma Meyler, Theresa Reed


This exhibit will be on display at the Third International Bioethics, Multiculturalism 
and Religion Workshop and Conference
, December 3-5 in Hong Kong and several more venues soon to be announced.


UNESCO Chair Fellow Offers Bioethics Course in Hong Kong

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UNESCO Chair Fellow, Fr. Joseph Tham, LC directed an intensive bioethics course in the Holy Spirit Seminary during his visit to Hong Kong from January to February 2014.

Thirty students participated in an introduction to bioethical thought that involved twenty hours of lectures.  The group consisted of various priests, seminarians, and lay people interested in the field.  The course was offered in Cantonese dialect of Chinese commonly spoken on the island.

During Tham’s most recent trip to his homeland, he also took time to offer lectures for those pursuing a diploma in bioethics with the Caritas Bianchi Institute of Higher Studies.

Tham also spoke at the Bioethics Resource Centre about the ethical, social, and medical implication of the SARS epidemic that inflicted the nation 10 years ago.  The presentation was addressed specifically to a group of medical students.



Hong Kong University Exhibits 2013 Bioethics Art Competition Winners at “The Making of Peace Makers”

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The fifteen winning art pieces of 2013 UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights Bioethics Art Completion began another exhibition on February 24, 2014 lasting until March 7, 2014 in the Lobby of the Chi Wah Learning Commons in the Hong Kong University.

The Second Bioethics Art Competition of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights held its inauguration ceremony in Hong Kong at the Gallery by the Harbour of the Harbour City Shopping Mall on December 7, 2013.

In 2011, the First Bioethics Art Competition Exhibit was unveiled in the UN Headquarters in New York City.  The competition received 225 submissions from 23 countries by 132 artists reflecting upon the need to “Respect Human Vulnerability, Personal Integrity, Cultural Diversity and Pluralism.”

The 15 pieces of winning artworks of 2013 selected from three categories including Fine Arts, Photography and Student Art shed a special light on how to behave ethically in the areas of life sciences and biotechnology.  Future exhibitions are slated for New York, Rome, Mexico City and Houston in 2014.

To learn about the art exhibit and other activities of the university, visit http://beta.gened.hku.hk/newsevents/detail?id=306.


UNESCO Chair hosts Third International Conference on Bioethics, Multiculturalism and Religion in Hong Kong

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Doctors, lawyers, psychologists, philosophers and theologians from 7 religious traditions travelled from 13 different countries to participate in the Third UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights International Conference on Bioethics, Multiculturalism and Religion in Hong Kong from December 3-5.

“The conference provided a broad platform for various religious approaches to the issue of human rights and to bioethics in general.  I was also impressed with the scholarship of my colleagues in Hong Kong.” noted Dr. Henk ten Have, Director of the Center for Healthcare Ethics at Duquesne University.

Participants gathered in the Council Chamber of the Hong Kong Baptist University to discuss the relationship between universal human rights and cultural diversity in life sciences, in a city consciously chosen to host the event in light of its long tradition of cultural and religious pluralism.

The effort to discuss human rights in Hong Kong from a pluralistic perspective was a bold attempt to address a widespread concern that human rights talk, far from being the grounds for consensus, is actually a Western liberal imposition that does not respect the communitarian perspective of Eastern cultural and the duty-based perspectives of traditional religions.

“During the 2011 Rome workshop focused on the principle of vulnerability, it soon became clear that with so many different religious traditions, many conceptual problems were unresolved.  The East-West contrast was particularly strong with regard to human rights.  Many participants of the workshop find the human rights language too individualistic.” explained Hong Kong native Fr. Joseph Tham, LC coordinated the event.  He is also professor of Bioethics at Regina Apostolorum University in Rome, Italy and a fellow of the UNESCO Chair.DiRito_P_BG1A0011


Schedule of The Third International Conference on Bioethics, Multiculturalism and Religion

The schedule of The Third International Conference on Bioethics, Multiculturalism and Religion has been finalized.  The events will take place from Dec 2-7, 2013 in the metroplis of Hong Kong.  Download PDF See list of speakers.

hkbuOn the evening of Dec 2, there will be the inauguration ceremony of the conference at Hong Kong Baptist University, with welcoming address of the president and dean of the university, the director of UNESCO Chair as well as local government officials.  This will be followed by a Public symposium with Panel of Five Religions Representatives on “The meaning of Human Rights and Family”.  Religious leaders from Catholic, Daoist, Islamic, Protestant and Buddhist traditions will present their views.

On the evening of Dec. 4, there will be another public conference on Human Rights and the Family, with Prof. Thomas Leing and Prof. Kai Man Kwan speaking and chaired by Dr. Denis Chang and Fr. Joseph Tham. Poster for both events Registration


The Workshop will take place from Dec 3-5 where experts from seven religious groups will discuss the question of human rights and cultural diversity in bioethics. Download poster This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Read the papers

At the same time, the winners of the Bioethics Art Competition will be exhibited at the publicsymbosiums of Dec 2 and 4 at the HK Baptist University.  An additional exhibit will take place at the Gallery by the Harbour of the Harbour City Shopping Mall from Dec 6-8.  The inauguration and prize giving ceremony will take place on Dec 7 afternoon.


From Internationally Renowned Scholars to Locally Cherished Student Artists: UNESCO Chair’s Atlanta Lecture Series

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Where will this century’s most pressing questions take you?

Atlanta_1This question propelled the UNESCO Chair’s launch of its first Atlanta lecture series this past September 3-6th, led by UNESCO Chairholder, Professor Alberto Garcia. From Atlanta’s oldest hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital, to Emory University’s Center for Ethics, to two local high schools, Prof. Garcia fostered a world-class whirlwind of forums.

The first day of the tour kicked off with St. Joseph’s, which following its founding in 1880 by the Sisters of Mercy to serve neglected patients, grew to become one of the top specialty-referral hospitals in Southeast America and teaching hospital affiliate of Emory University.

Atlanta_2Over 50 physicians, allied health professionals, and volunteers crowded St. Joseph’s conference room for the lecture on what one hospital volunteer described as, “critical work that must continue for our patients.” Prof. Garcia presented the growingimplications of recent neuroscientific findings and practical ethical tools to betterunderstand the person and thus address growing challenges for patients’ health, identity, and safety.

“We need a realistic approach to human rights as fundamental goods of every person that we should recognize, respect and guarantee...because human dignity derives not primarily from the complexity of our biological structures, but from our condition of persons and subjects of rights,” Prof. Garcia concluded the Ethics Rounds.

Atlanta_3The tour then surged into Emory University’s Center for Ethics where Prof. Garica taught a graduate course on human rights and multiculturalism, before plunging into the city’s heart with Emory’s Aquinas Center-sponsored businessperson luncheon, and finally culminating in the classrooms of 165 students at St. Pius X Catholic High School and 124 students at Pinecrest Academy.

“This is what our UNESCO Chair is about,” noted the Chair’s U.S. Executive Director and Atlanta resident, Michael Gannon, “creating forums of dialogue with leading thought leaders ranging from corporate executives, to hospital ethics committee physicians to Emory-based Jewish, Catholic, and secular bioethicists to high school artists. By fostering the art of convergence and cooperation in global ethics, our scholars cross the globe uniting diverse communities on some of the most critical questions about man in the 21st century.”

Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 October 2013 16:16
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