MASTERCLASS IN NEUROBIOETHICS: Neurobioethics and Artificial Intelligence – III Edition

MASTERCLASS IN NEUROBIOETHICS: Neurobioethics and Artificial Intelligence – III Edition


The Neurobioethics Interdisciplinary Research Group (GdN) at the Athenaeum Pontificium Regina Apostolorum (APRA) of Rome, inspired by the recent achievements made in the field of neurobioethics, robotics and technology, will dedicate its reflection, research, publication and formation of the year 2019-2020 to the critical analysis of “artificial intelligence”.

The potential that the evolution of algorithms has to offer to humanity has the power to arouse enthusiasm and hope for scientific innovation, but not all are convinced of its benefit as serious concerns have arisen. There is no doubt that our history is linked to the development of technology and, in the last century, to the exponential growth of computational innovations. Like every tool, artificial intelligence contributes to the human beings flourishing and to the common good, depending on the use that will be made of it. Indeed, the more powerful this product of human intelligence will be, the greater the potential benefit; but even more feared is the possible incurred damage that would be a consequence of its misuse. Therefore, an interdisciplinary reflection on the subject which explains the status of the art, the real future evolutions, the positive applications and the dangers of its misuse are matters of urgency.

The current solicitations of robotics, the development of artificial intelligence and the multiple applications of human empowerment call upon the men and the women of today to know more about these topics and their consequences in order to consciously decide the direction of neuro-technological progress.

The Neurobioethics Research Group (GdN) in continuity with the paths on Transhumanism (2017-2018) and on Roboethics (2018-2019) will offer a third specialization course for the academic year 2019-2020 (75 hours in total – 3 ECTS) on “Neurobioethics and Artificial Intelligence”. From October 2019 until June 2020 a course of ten monthly meetings will be proposed: seminars, round tables and the March conference inside of the Brain Awareness Week, promoted by the DANA Foundation. The course will develop the technological, neuroscientific, psychiatric, psychological, philosophical, ethical, legal and theological aspects of the so-called “artificial intelligence” in order to create a mature awareness of the applications of anthropological, ethical, legal, sanitary and social consequences of these innovations for the life of human beings.

This third specialization course in Neurobioethics “Neurobioethics and Artificial Intelligence” will collect the fruit of the interdisciplinary reflection of the GdN. It will be possible to follow the course both in presidential mode and online. The course is in Italian.

Particular emphasis will be given to the consideration of the issues related to the principles enshrined in the UNESCO Bioethics and Human Rights Declaration of 2005.


Faculty of Bioethics

UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights

Institute of Science and Faith


The course includes a two-hour monthly meeting (seminar or round table) starting on Friday 25/10/2019 until Friday 19/06/2020. The dates, times and classrooms of the meetings are the following:

10/25/2019, 17-19: 00, Aula Magna (2nd floor)

11/29/2019, 17-19: 00, Aula Magna (2nd floor)

12/13/2019, 17-19: 00, Aula Magna (2nd floor)

24/01/2020, 17-19: 00, Thesis classroom (1st floor)

21/02/2020, 17-19: 00, Thesis classroom (1st floor)

18/03/2020, World Brain Week Conference, 15-19: 00, Master Classroom (1st floor)

20/03/2020, Thesis classroom (1st floor)

24/04/2020, 17-19: 00, Thesis classroom (1st floor)

22/05/2020, 17-19: 00, Thesis classroom (1st floor)

19/06/2020, 17-19: 00, Thesis classroom (1st floor)

The specific contents and speakers will be communicated month by month and will progress from the technical-computational aspects of the algorithms up to the neuroscientific, psychiatric, psychological, philosophical, ethical, legal and theological issues concerning the development of the so-called “artificial intelligence”.


This training course is created for all of those who wish to become more aware of the development, application to humans and the environment of “artificial intelligence”; specifically: politicians, bioethicists, engineers, teachers, trainers, doctors, philosophers and theologians. At the end of the course a certificate will be issued to the attendees, and after the evaluation of their summary of the course, 3 ECTS credits will be issued.


The registration fee and the total course fee is € 350.

Registration deadline: 10/31/2019

Coordinator of the specialization course:

Prof. P. Alberto Carrara, L.C.

Tel: 06/916891

For further informations

Prof. P. Alberto Carrara, L.C.

Tel: 329/9157494

70th birthday of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: 30 cartoons bring life to Human Rights

70th birthday of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: 30 cartoons bring life to Human Rights

By Camilla Carlesi


On the 70th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, adopted on 10 December 1948, the UN Human Rights Office, together with the Cartoon Movement, opened a cartoon contest which selected 30 images out of the more than 500 submissions which best portrayed each of the 30 articles written in the declaration.

Illustrated below are some of this year’s winners of the contest who were published on the Cartoon Movement website:



Art 1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.







Art 7. All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.







Art. 9. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.






Art. 18. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.






Art. 30. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.





(go to: to see the full album)


These pictures convey a message in a much more effective way than words. Through art, human rights are rediscovered in an understandable format. These cartoons in particular work to motivate its viewers to reflect on their attitude towards the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and on their general condition. Art has the power to provoke in them the need to change their ethical values. The UNESCO Chair of Bioethics and Human Rights fosters the use of art as a vehicle to promote human dignity and human rights. Moreover, it encourages the use of all arts such as music, architecture, literature, performing arts and dramas in addition to visual art and cartoons to advocate for these moral beliefs.

The 30 pictures created to give life to the articles of the Declaration of Human Rights demonstrate how the Document was just as important 70 years ago as it is today. However, as the Cartoon Movement states, “around the world, we see that human rights are increasingly under pressures and space for civil society, journalists and cartoonists is shrinking.” Therefore, it is our duty to support the spread of these cartoons as a vehicle of sensitization to keep Human Rights alive in order to achieve equality, freedom and peace.




World Refugee Day

World Refugee Day

By Serena Montefusco

Last June 20th was World Refugee Day, an occasion for which the Argentinian Embassy to the Holy See organized a morning of reflection on the issue of migration at the headquarters of the Communication Department of the Vatican with a focus on the caravans of migrants typical of South America. This invitation for open dialogue deepened the discussion of Venezuelan migrants.

The Guglielmo Marconi room in Piazza Pia in Rome was packed with familiar faces, such as Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter of the Argentinian Embassy to the Holy See, Fr. Fabio Baggio Undersecretary of the migrants and refugees section of the Dicastery For Promoting Integral Human Development, Andrea Tornielli, editorial director of the Holy See’s Communication Department (Vatican News), Paola Alvarez of the International Organization for Migration, Andrea Pecoraro of UNHCR, Martina Liebsch, director of the Caritas Internationals advocacy office, Sister Eleia Scariot , Scalabrinian missionary and director of the Chaire Gynai project, Gianni la Bella, professor of contemporary history at the University of Modena and member of the presidency council of the community of Sant’Egidio, and finally S.E.R. Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State of the Holy See.

Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter welcomed the participants by introducing the most common reasons why thousands of people are forced to migrate: economic adversity, as the result of persecution or conflict and climatic phenomena. Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter’s commentary emphasized how fundamental it is to establish joint work between states in order to stem the universal problem. The continents most involved are Asia, Europe, Africa and South America. According to the 2016 United Nations report, Venezuelans have become the largest displaced group in the world. In 2016 there were 700,000 displaced Venezuelan migrants, and today there are over 4 million.

On the 29th of September we celebrate the 105th Day of the Migrants and Refugees instituted by Pope Benedict XV in 1914. For this occasion, Pope Francis launched an important message on the 27th of May, “It is not just about migrants, it is about our humanity”, and invites us all not to be afraid of the stranger, or of the unknown, by implementing the charity that resides in our humanity, and not to feed what is called the “globalization of indifference” that separates us from one another. As recalled by Dr. Andrea Tornielli, the family of Nazareth is an example and model in support of all migrants, refugees and displaced persons who, pressed by persecution or need, find themselves forced to flee and to be separated from their loved ones, as Joseph and Mary were. Leaving the word to Fr. Fabio Baggio, Tornielli emphasizes that “states have an evangelical responsibility to support migrants”.

P. Fabio Baggio presented the work that the Church is doing worldwide which involves the 20 points of action of the Global Compact, which we have had the privilege to listen to last May 15th at our Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum. The challenges increase every day, and it is necessary to develop effective responses through the creation of assistance centers, housing, jobs, health care and vocational training. These are some of the actions carried out by the section on migrants and refugees that operates worldwide and gives support to the Church by accompanying people at every level of migration.

In the second part of the morning, the round table was chaired by Dr. Paola Alvarez and Dr. Andrea Pecoraro. Both presented the numbers concerning international and regional migration in Latin America, and then in Venezuela.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) was born in 1951, but only in 2016 did it enter the United Nations system as a connected agency. Today it has 173 member states, a statistic that encourages us to reflect on the magnitude and space it occupies on a global scale. The latest reports show that there are 258 million international migrants and 760 million internal migrants. There is a tendency on the part of the media to focus on international migration, “relying too much on words and not on facts” and giving space to an increasingly distorted perception of the reality of migrants. Alvarez mentions the global compact, based on the goals of the 2030 agenda, to highlight the second point which aims to “minimize the adverse conditions and structural factors that drive people to leave their country of origin”. Leaving the word to Pecoraro, Alvarez adds that “the global compact gives the opportunity to rethink immigration, invites us to think of migration as a choice”.

Andrea Pecoraro presented the work carried out in recent years by the UNHCR which has analyzed the phenomenon of constant migratory growth. According to the UNHCR annual report, forced migrants increased exponentially due to the Syrian conflict. This phenomenon is also manifested in many African regions, which see an increasing number of displaced people in developing countries. There is also a notable increase of migratory growth in South America: the protagonist of the discussion being Venezuela with its aforementioned 4 million displaced persons.

The third part of the morning was dedicated to the testimonies of some projects promoted globally by Caritas, the Scalabrinian Missionary Sisters and the community of Sant’Egidio. The discussion was concluded by S.E.R. Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher. Dr. Martina Liesbch presented the new campaign “Sharing the journey” on migration. The campaign was launched last September 27th during the Pope’s audience with migrants and aims to promote the culture of encounter and to help see the phenomenon of migration with different eyes. Similarly, Sister Eleia Scariot presented the project of the Scalabrinian Missionary Sisters in Rome “Chaire Gynai” (Welcome Woman) which has opened two houses for refugee women and children in vulnerable situations. In both cases, social inclusion activities are carried out based on the 4 verbs of the Pope: accepting, protecting, promoting and integrating. These words echoed for the whole morning inside of the classroom. Prof. Gianni La Bella, of the Sant’Egidio community, reiterated the importance of promoting humanitarian corridors to establish a system of legal and safe migration. The humanitarian corridors carried out by the community serve as a clear and concrete example that it is possible to regulate the flow of migration.

As anticipated, the morning ended with a concluding statement from Archbishop Gallagher, who reiterated that regulating migration and helping migrants is a global responsibility, as it is also the responsibility of migrants themselves to learn about the culture of the state that welcomes them. The UNESCO Chair supports this strong message through the implementation of the CivicAL project, which foresees the development of chapter 3 of the manual for educators, which concerns the rights and responsibilities of migrants. It is a message that UNESCO Chair has been supporting for some time, and which it has been able to develop on several occasions, such as during the year 2017 when it supported the activities of the Eurosol project together with other partners from different European member states.

Illiteracy is gendered: women are much more likely to never step inside of a classroom compared to men

Illiteracy is gendered: women are much more likely to never step inside of a classroom compared to men

By Camilla Carlesi

“Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” and “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” are the fourth and fifth Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. As of today, work has been done in order to reach these goals by 2030. However, when it comes to quality education and women empowerment data are not optimistic. The World’s Women 2015 study says that of the 781 million adults over the age of 15 estimated to be illiterate 496 million are women. This accounts for two-thirds of the whole illiterate population. Unfortunately, this ratio has not been changed much in the past years.

The higher rates of illiteracy are present in underdeveloped countries. About half of the illiterate women come from Sub Saharan Africa. In West Africa, for example, less than 25% of women can read. What are the main reasons? Primarily, being born in an underprivileged situation implies lower chances of getting a school education. In particular, being born in a family which did not receive education in the first place. When parents lack of education themselves, children will be less motivated to go to school. This phenomenon is called “intergenerational transmission of illiteracy” and it represents one of the major causes for illiteracy.

Transmission of illiteracy directly relates to poverty, as often children are held back from going to school because their family needs them to work in order to survive. Especially in countries which still rely on agriculture and farming, child labor is highly required. In addition to this, in places where gender roles are still well distinct, males are in charge of learning hard labor and females are asked to stay home to learn houseworks and eventually get married very young. According to recent UNICEF statistics about child marriage, the percentage of women in West and Central Africa who got married or in union before age 15 is 14% and 41% before age 18. This means that, about half the number of women living in West and Central Africa marry even before reaching legal age.

In the case of women, illiteracy is much more frequent also because of gender discrimination, which tends to stop females from both accessing and continuing education. A survey conducted by the GCE (Global Campaign for Education) states that girls in school feel that they are less safe and face more harassment than men. Therefore, even if some women manage to access education, it is harder for them to complete their studies due to the unpleasant situations they often have to face. Particularly, menstruation plays a major role in the spread of women discrimination. Females are subject to discrimination during their period but they also lack access to sanitary products or education regarding hygiene practices. Therefore, they need to stay home during their whole menstruation cycle and miss school. Because of this, according to UNESCO, girls are less likely to graduate from secondary school compared to boys. Solutions to this problems are easy to find, but difficult to implement. For example, teaching sanitary or sexual education to both men and women could tackle the issue of women discrimination, but it would be very difficult to insert in a very conservative environment. In general, all countries outside Africa (with the exception of Afghanistan) have literacy rates above 50%, which account for the higher global literacy ever. Therefore, luckily, the situation outside of Africa is not as negative.

As the UNESCO Chair of Bioethics and Human Rights, we want to share the data relating to women’s illiteracy in order to highlight the significance of the issue, promote gender equality and foster an easier access to education. We have been working to achieve these goals and we have developed projects dealing with this theme, such as CivicAL. CivicAL aims to spread the knowledge of Civic Education among people living in disadvantage situations . The project focuses on education, as it is an important vehicle for people to integrate into the society they are living in. The fact that women are less likely to even step inside of a classroom compared to men is an issue that needs to be solved immediately, since it puts in danger women’s integration into society. More projects like CivicAL should be implemented towards the goal of reducing global illiteracy to reach gender equality.