A conversation about arts, inclusion, faith and bioethics.

By Serena Montefusco, UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights 

Upon the initiative of Dr Renata Santos Beman, who has been involved in raising awareness of the rights of the blind and visually impaired people for more than ten years, a meeting, or as the organizer called it, “A Conversation” on the topics of art, inclusion, faith and bioethics.  The event was held last Nov. 12 at Florence’s Palazzo San Niccolò, a vintage and welcoming venue from the 14th century.

“This small event is an opportunity to embrace our humanity to meet new people, create friendships and enjoy each other, as, through time, a good conversation has always been a crucial starting point towards hope.  The idea is to challenge ourselves and our imagination on how we see the world and what we can do to transform it into a more inclusive place through arts, education, bioethics, or simple everyday conversations” – Dr Renata Santos Beman.

In an almost old-fashioned atmosphere, there were present The President of the Italian Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired & Florence Territorial Section, Dr Niccolò Zeppi, Professor Emeritus Luca Uzielli, Lecturer Emeritus in Wood Technology at the University of Florence, sculptor Andrea Bianco, pianist and writer Duccio Lamberti, Professor and Director of the Science and Faith Institute of the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, Fr. Rafael Pascual, LC, and Prof. Alberto García Gómez, Dean of the Faculty of Bioethics and Director of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights (Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum and the European University of Rome).

After the opening greetings, a blessing by Fr. Daniel Mauricio, LC, followed by Dr Santos Beman’s reflection on her experience supporting the blind and other vulnerable groups, and how getting to know the reality of many blind and visually impaired, in particular, shifted her career.  It contributed to her interdisciplinary ways of conducting research in the fields of science of behavior inspired by the work of BF Skinner towards arts, education, and the experience of faith, as seen in her recent work on meanings of relics beyond vision and the experience of vulnerability and the Shroud of Turin.  Dr Santos Beman discussed that is still much more that can be done towards equity and social inclusion.  Then, Dr Zeppi shared his experiences, as a blind person, as President of the Italian Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired in supporting and promoting autonomy, education, research and rehabilitation. Professor Natalia Parenko representing The International Saint Petersburg Art Academy in Firenze, introduced the piano performance by a talented young pianist Angela Chen with an outstanding performance that symbolized the start of the Conversation with the hope in the young generations.

Next, Prof. Uzielli presented some wood sculptures and plates highlighting how, through sight, touch and smell, it is possible to explore and learn about the world of wood.  Interestingly, one of the participants, Prof. Paolo Pecile, that emphasized the importance of wood’s versatile properties through time for the development of society and technology; above all, he made a point of reflecting on the fact that history is told to us through the Iron Age, for example, and not “the age of the wood.”

After a moment of pause, Fr. Rafael Pascual, LC, introduced interdisciplinary perspectives in religion, mainly through studying the Shroud of Turin and how it has inspired many artists, including Mr Andrea Bianco.  At the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum in Rome, Fr. Rafael Pascual, LC, in addition to coordinating the Master of Science and Faith, the Diploma in Shroud Studies, curates the Permanent Exhibition on the Holy Shroud – Who is the Man of the Shroud?  The exhibition is a collection of images, objects, and sculptures that allow visitors to have a spiritual, historical and scientific experience where the mysteries of the sacred cloth where the figure of a man’s body with apparent signs of torture is imprinted are revealed.

The latest sculpture, “Ecce Homo according to the Shroud,” donated by Andrea Bianco himself on the occasion of the 15th Anniversary of the opening of the exhibition, is modelled on the Shroud’s Face.  “There were numerous and dramatic details to be made on that Face.  Starting with a swollen eye like a boxer’s, continuing with the stroke of the stick along the cheek, then that strip of torn beard and the trickle of blood on the forehead.  But the most heinous thing for me was the helmet of thorns.  At this point, I realized in fullness that the purpose was not to create a beautiful work, but rather a sculpture that would represent, as much as possible, the unspeakable pain of our God for the salvation of sinners.”- Mr. Andrea Bianco.

As we approach the end of this conversation among friends, M.B Dallocchio, an artist and social worker from Beverley Hills now living in Florence, introduced the born blind pianist Duccio Limberti that has an incredible history of achievements, graduated in languages in 1987, at the Martini Conservatory in Bologna he obtained the certificate of theory and solfeggio.  Self-taught musician, arranger, singer, improviser author of 2 books. Duccio played national and international hits also accompanied by his wife, Lali Burduli, with whom he creates the LALIMBERTI Duo.  The performance left everyone excited and with goosebumps, then Duccio Limberti and Prof. García (with the guitar) together improvised a Spanish piece, then leaving the floor to Prof. García to share the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights Bioethics and Global Art project, which through the different expressions of art wants to promote inclusion in respect of human rights and the importance of vulnerability in bioethics, as well as the arts as a form of education in the universal values and principles of the Universal Declaration Of Bioethics and Human Rights (2005).  To conclude, Dr. Serena Montefusco Project Manager and Communication Officer of the UNESCO Chair, invited the participants to an aesthetic experience by showing some works from the International Bioethics and Art Competition that the UNESCO Chair realized as an expression of the project.

The conversation ended in the general enthusiasm of all participants who were able to appreciate the magic of meeting and sharing with each other, the magic of the presence of the Spirit that made it all possible.

Renewal of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights, at Università Europea di Roma and Ateneo Pontificio Regina Apostolorum, Italy

We are honored to share with all fellows, researchers, collaborators, benefactors and friends of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights that the renewal of the Chair has been approved until July 2026.

“We are confident that the Chair will continue to bring added value to UNESCO’s strategic priorities in the field of bioethics and human rights through research, documentation, training, knowledge sharing and inter-university cooperation in the Global South.” Sobhi Tawil (PhD), Director, Future of Learning and Innovation

New GEM 2022 Gender Report

The 2022 Gender Report calls for us to #DeepentheDebate on gender equality in education.

Firstly it calls for us to pay closer attention to data. The Report has relied upon UIS data on gender gaps in out-of-school rates and a new comprehensive dataset on completion rates housed on its VIEW website. They show that gender disparities in education have changed rapidly. Globally, gender gaps in education access at all three levels of education are close to zero – but stagnation in some countries and pockets of exclusion within others prevail.

Updated data housed on its WIDE website also present an almost global picture of the gender gap in learning outcomes. Girls now outperform boys in learning in general but are not among top performers in mathematics. Their advantage over boys in reading in early grades increases with age. They also outperform boys in science in secondary school in middle- and high-income countriesThis analysis provides a baseline against which to compare the next layer of learning data that will be released in the coming 18 months and which will help assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on inequality.
The Report calls for the debate to also look beyond access, completion and learning to societal norms influencing progress. Gender equality in education is influenced by gender-based expectations, by politicians as well as parents, communities as well as businesses and faith leaders. Depending on the context, the role of these actors can push the gender equality agenda forward or undermine progress to maintain the status quo.
Read the Report 
Share the social media pack 
Watch the event (2-3 PM CEST)
Watch the video

Source: The 2020 GEMReport

Report – Brain Awareness Week 2022

From March 15 to 19, the Neurobioethics Study Group coordinated by Fr. Alberto Carrara, L.C., professor in the Faculty of Philosophy and Fellow of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights (School of Bioethics), participated with numerous national and international events during the Brain Awareness Week organized by the Dana Foundation.

March 15-16 NEURO-COVID. The video-recording is accessible by clicking here.

Speakers: Matilde Leonardi (IIRCS Carlo Besta, Milan) “Long-Covid: neurological aspects” (for the video-recording of this speech click here); Stefano Mazzoleni (bio-robotic engineer, University of Bari) “The epidemic during the time of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics – A new anthropology for a safer world? “; Armando Piccinni (neurologist, psychiatrist and President of BRF, BRAIN RESEARCH FONDAZIONE Onlus of Pisa) “Covid: psychiatric aspects”; Fabrizio Mastrofini (head of the communication office of the Pontifical Academy for Life) “Covid 19 between information and misinformation”; Alberto Carrara “Covid: Anthropological and Neuroethical Issues”; Laura Arnaboldi (Psychologist, SISPI) “From Confinement Syndromes to Long Covid in Psychology”; Bianca Tomasi (Psychologist, SISPI) “Online Psychotherapy during Covid time: the experience of a digital native”; Alberto Passerini (Psychiatrist, Psychotherapist, Founder and Director of SISPI) “Phenomenology of the psychotherapeutic setting: adaptations triggered by the pandemic”; Tania Cerasella (lawyer, member of the GdN) “Pandemics and epidemics of information between disinformation and misinformation: “together for”…. ., the person, in search of truth, justice, with love and kindness”; Emanuela Cerasella (lawyer, coordinator of the subgroup of the GdN on Neurolaw) “Pandemic of Covid 19, exceptional conditions of imbalance between necessities and available resources in health care: when clinical ethics meets law”. Both events were presented and moderated by Claudio Bonito, philosopher and coordinator of the GdN subgroup on Posthumanism.

March 17 NEURO-SPORT. The video-recording is accessible by clicking here.

Speakers: “Sport and neurosciences, the historical roots” (Angela Teja); “”Genetic concept of the psychosomatic spirit applied to sport” (starting from the thought of Fernando Rielo, Founder, thinker, poet 1923-2004)” (Father David Murray); Testimonials 1 – Mauro Raffaeli (Sport that heals), Paolo Di Benedetto (the walk that opens the heart and the mind); “Robotic Neurorehabilitation and Adapted Physical Activity: reality and perspectives” (Luciano Bissolotti, Specialist in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine, Fondazione Teresa Camplani-Casa di Cura Domus Salutis); Testimonials 2 – Carmine Consalvi and Fernando Ruscito (pedagogical work with children through sport). The event was presented and moderated by Claudio Bonito, philosopher and coordinator of the GdN subgroup on Posthumanism.

March 18 NEURO-TECH. NEUROTECHNOLOGIES THAT LOVE THE HUMAN PERSON. The video-recording is accessible by clicking here.


16:00. Introduction and moderation (Claudio Bonito)

16:10. Greetings from the Rector of the European University of Rome (UER) Prof. F. Pedro Barrajón, L.C.

16:10-18:00. Neurotechnologies that love the human person. Theoretical and practical presentation of neuro-technologies applied to mental pathology at the clinical neuroscience laboratory of the European University of Rome. Prof. Benedetto Farina, Professor of Psychiatry; Prof. Claudio Imperatori, Associate Professor of Psychology, Faculty of Psychology, European University of Rome (UER).


On the occasion of the 101st anniversary of the birth of neuropsychiatrist Anneliese Alma Pontius (1921-2018), who coined the neologism “neuro-ethics” in 1973, the newly formed INNBE, INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE OF NEUROBIOETICS, was presented.

Certainly, a most special moment was represented by the speeches of some of the Honorary Members of the IINBE: the first one was from the United States of America, by Prof. Stephen M. Stahl, a well-known psychiatrist and pharmacologist; then from Mexico, the Vice-President of FISP (International Federation of Philosophical Societies), Prof. Lourdes Velázquez; next from Mexico again, the President of the Mexican Association of Neuroethics, Prof. Karen Herrera; in Zoom connection, the phenomenologist Angela Ales Bello (Emeritus Philosopher at the Pontifical Lateran University); in presence, the philosopher of the Pontifical Gregorian University and coordinator of the subgroup of the GdN dedicated to Neurobioethics and sexual differences, Prof. Giorgia Salatiello; the coordinator of the subgroup of the GdN on Neurolaw, the lawyer Emanuela Cerasella and Dr. Franco Arosio, for 33 years General Director of the IRCCS Carlo Besta in Milan.

To our big surprise, Prof. Borys Ivnyev, psychiatrist, Rector of Kiev Medical University and Honorary Member of IINBE, was able to connect via WhatsApp call directly from Ukraine. His speech was greeted with loud applause, which caused to both Prof. Ivnyev and to all of us strong emotions. It was a very touching moment that you can see in the video-recording (at the minute 1:40:00), as well as on our social pages.

Finally, we connected with Aversa, one of the local sections of the GdN coordinated by Prof. Mara Marano, who in parallel has organized for this important anniversary for neurobioethics, a prestigious conference attended by: The Bishop of Aversa, the Mayor, the scientist Antonio Giordano, the philosopher Michele Farisco, the Chief Francesco Verde, the theologian Guido Cumerlato and the philosopher Pasquale Giustiniani.

Lastly, the following events were officially announced: (1) the upcoming release of the volume “Anneliese Alma Pontius. A hundred years after her birth. Neuroethics from a female perspective” by A. Carrara and E. Barboni and (2) the Prize of 2,000 euros on Neuro-Education dedicated to the founder of neuroethics “Anneliese Alma Pontius”, whose call for tender will be released in the coming months.

The video-recording is available on the YouTube channel on this link.

The Italian UNESCO Chairs meet the Ministries of Education and University and Research. On the agenda sustainability and socio-ecological transition

The central role of education, the need for integrated knowledge, the development of new skills and the commitment to a joint and shared ecological transition. These are some of the issues of the meeting of the Italian UNESCO Chairs with the Ministries of Education and University and Research.

The meeting was opened by the Minister of Education, Patrizio Bianchi, and the Minister of University and Research, Maria Cristina Messa. Franco Bernabè, President of the Italian Commission for UNESCO (CNIU), and Stefania Giannini, Unesco’s Deputy Director General for Education, also participated.

The Italian Unesco Chairs, with the project “Dialogues of the Unesco Chairs: a laboratory of ideas for the world to come”, have started a path to propose themselves as a collective subject with a high scientific profile and as a community of knowledge to contribute to the challenge of sustainability and socio-economic transition. The meeting is the synthesis of a year of confrontation and dialogue between the holders of the Italian UNESCO Chairs engaged in the development of education and knowledge in relation to global environmental and social challenges and for the achievement of the goals of sustainable development of the UN Agenda 2030.

The Italian UNESCO Chairs, in this occasion, presented “The Declaration of UNESCO Chairs for Sustainability.”

To this end, the Italian UNESCO Chairs are working to provide a laboratory of ideas and knowledge for future generations, to implement a transdisciplinary and transnational educational approach, to contribute the introduction of the environmental challenge in school and university education, to develop tools for sharing and dissemination of knowledge by acting as bridges between academia, civil society and policy makers.

source: https://www.miur.gov.it/web/guest/-/le-cattedre-unesco-italiane-incontrano-i-ministeri-dell-istruzione-e-dell-universita-e-della-ricerca-sul-tavolo-la-sostenibilita-e-la-transizione-soci