By Dominique Monlezun

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.

Over 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.

The 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.Atlanta_2

“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.”