Training Course in Neurobioethics – VIII Edition


The Interdisciplinary Research Group in Neurobioethics (IDG) of the Faculty of Philosophy, after a 15-year research experience also in the contexts of transhumanism, from September 2024 to June 2025 offers training related to emerging issues in neuroethics. From the critical scenarios of motor, cognitive, affective, emotional and social enhancement to the scenarios that challenge the neurobioethicist today, such as brain organoids, from so-called “organoid intelligence” to human-machine hybridization for non-therapeutic purposes.

The Course is in collaboration with the Science and Faith Institute and the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights at the University.

Objectives and Target

The rapid developments and applications to human beings of neuroscientific and neurotechnological discoveries challenge the man and woman of today who are called to know in order to make informed decisions about the direction of progress. In fact, a specific slant of the course will consist of an in-depth study of the anthropological, ethical, legal, health and social consequences and repercussions of neuroscience and its interpretations for the life of the human being having as a reference horizon an Aristotelian-Thomistic realist view on the human person and the principles enshrined in the 2005 UNESCO Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights. This eighth Postgraduate Course in Neurobioethics will gather part of the interdisciplinary reflection of the research group.

The course is designed for physicians, bioethicists, philosophers, theologians, lawyers and jurists, economic experts and trainers who wish to explore the new scenarios of neurobioethics.

Info and Modalities

  • Credits 3 ECTS
  • Classes start 20/09/2024
  • Dates Enrollment from 05/06/2024 to 31/01/2025
  • Enrollment Cost: €400
  • Dicount fee by 30/09/2024
  • Language: Italian. Possibility of simultaneous translation into Spanish and English if the number of registered applicants for these two languages is at least 5 students per language.
  • Mode: presential and online synchronous and asynchronous.

NOTE: Until January 15, it is possible to register by making up sessions in asynchronous mode.

Serena Montefusco at the National Project Management Forum 2024 – Rome

On June 14, 2024, the National Project Management Forum 2024, organized by the Project Management Insitute Central Italy Chapter (PMI-CIC), brought together more than 600 project professionals in Rome to discuss, improve and foster the methodologies and principles of the Project Management Institute (PMI), a leading authority in this field, from different perspective.

Lucila Dotto, Europe Head of Community, PMI, invited Serena Montefusco, Assistant Project and Communication Manager of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights, to share her approach to the project management on social inclusion and human rights, emphasizing synergies with some of the principles of the Project Management Institute.

Tell us more about you. 

My name is Serena Montefusco, I am currently working at the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights – Faculty of Bioethics, which is affiliated with both the Pontifical Atheneum Regina Apostolorum and the European University of Rome. I have obtained the PMI certification “Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)”; since 2018, I have been a member of PMI Central Italy Chapter and a volunteer at the Editorial Committee.  

How your purpose relates to PMI’s purpose?
My purpose is to use project management skills to promote social inclusion. PMI aims to empower individuals and organizations to achieve their goals through effective project management. By focusing on social inclusion, I seek to ensure that diverse communities benefit from well-managed projects, thereby fostering equity and accessibility. This shared commitment to applying project management principles for positive societal impact reflects a common dedication to creating a more inclusive and equitable world.

What brought you to the PM profession and to PMI?
In 2017, when I started working on projects related to raising awareness relating to human rights and improving social inclusion, I realized that I needed to improve my project management skills as well. I discovered that PMI is the leading authority on project management and is the most reputable organization in the field. 

How your purpose relates to PMI’s purpose?
My purpose aligns with PMI’s purpose considering three main principles that we have in common: 1) being welcoming and focused on the needs of project professionals; 2) commitment to lifelong learning and continuous skill development. I believe in the importance of continuous education and skill enhancement to stay relevant and effective in this ever-evolving field. 3) aim to utilize AI effectively and responsibly considering the ethical and sustainable aspects of it.

By adhering also to these principles, at the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights we work towards a common goal of advancing project management while fostering a more inclusive and ethical world.

Garcia, Tham, and Ganev at the 12th International Conference on Ethics Education, Anahuac University Mexico (North Campus)

A number of members of the Faculty of Bioethics and UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights, including Dean Prof. Alberto Garcia, Prof. P. Joseph Tham, full professor, and Ana Maria Ganev  PhD candidate and #unescobiochair research assistant, participated in the 12th “International Conference on Education in Ethics” held in Mexico City, Mexico on June 19, 2024. The conference was sponsored by the UNESCO Chair in Bieothics and Human Rights, the Centro Anahuac de Desarrollo Estrategico en Bioethics, and the International Association for Education in Ethics.

Alberto García GómezBioaesthetics as an educational strategy

In contemporary culture, which is inclined to graphic and digital communication and to emotional and sensitive experiences, proposing the approach to the universal values and principles of bioethics, through the universal language of art, seems to be an innovative and effective way to educate in bioethics.

Once the foundation and relationship between the good and the beauty is identified, the principles and values of global bioethics and its convergences with personalist bioethics (bioaesthetics) might be analyzed through artistic and aesthetic experience and stimulates designing of new strategies and the realization of pedagogical proposals for education in bioethics, through artistic resources.

Study the relationship and interaction between bioethics and art and the impact of art in human behavior is part of Bioaesthetics aiming to inspire lovers of the arts to appreciate universal artistic language as a possibility for the expression of moral values and ethical principles, with respect for human dignity and human rights, in a globalized and multicultural world. Appreciation and dissemination of this transformative power of the arts in educating in bioethics and its influence on culture, might be an effective tool to inspire and educate ethical biomedical research, clinical ethics, as well as environmental ethics being the main areas of bioethics.

Joseph ThamPolarization of COVID Vaccines, Analysis and Group Actvities

This lecture was given in the 21st Summer Course Program on “Dialogue, Friendship, and Polarization Bioethics” by the Faculty of Bioethics in 2023. The one-day session focused on the debates on COVID-19 vaccines. We analyzed the SAGE Report (WHO 2014) on vaccine hesitancy, which listed the main cause of polarzation related to trust: Trust in the government, science, pharmaceutical companies, and the new vaccines, and the sources of information related to peer groups and social media. The polarization is less of a problem of lack of information than social identity, sometimes worsened by the echo chamber effect.

In the group activities, students were asked to examine different elements of trust crucial in vaccine hesitancy during COVID-19. The three activities were: 1) compare how the SAGE report coincides with the pandemic of ID 19. 2) The role of social media and fake news. 3) The place of vaccine mandates. The different groups proposed ways of minimizing vaccine hesitancy and polarization in future pandemics by bolstering trust to the rest of the class. The paper and the presentation will look at some these findings and propose how group activities might enhance ethics education.

Ana Maria Ganev“Morality pills” for Moral Enhancement (psychedelics)

Up until now, moral progress, and in part ethics education, was molded by culture and religion, specifically through “literary morality pills”, such as proverbs, parables and fables, deemed as safe and effective tools for moral enhancement. These literary devices are all forms of condensed philosophy or wisdom aimed at shaping the moral character of the listeners. Nevertheless, such cognitive aids may not be enough for achieving effective and long-lasting moral improvements. Thus, a “chemical morality pill”, particularly psilocybin (the active ingredient of “magic mushrooms”), is currently viewed as a real and tangible biochemical tool for moral enhancement.

Psilocybin, the active ingredient in so-called “magic mushrooms,” appears to occasion profound spiritual experiences and enduring positive personality changes for many users. A growing body of evidence suggests that psilocybin can increase openness, connectedness to others, and nature relatedness. It may reduce authoritarian attitudes and prejudice. By catalyzing mystical states and reshaping personality, psilocybin could help cultivate virtues like empathy, compassion, and ecological concern. Thus this natural psychoactive substance may represent a powerful moral enhancer.
However, psilocybin is not a quick fix or magic bullet for moral improvement. Any program of ethical betterment requires sustained effort across multiple fronts. But used judiciously under professional supervision, psilocybin could perhaps give some individuals access to life-changing spiritual insights and moral clarity. It may serve as a catalyst or supplement to advance moral development already being fostered through ethical instruction, contemplative practices, therapy, and life experience. In this way, the best of ancient wisdom and modern science can work together: literary morality pills providing the cognitive content, psilocybin providing a biochemical catalyst.

This paper explores and seeks to understand if and how psilocybin, one of the main psychedelic substances, may represent a viable option for assisting moral enhancement and be considered as a “supplement” for achieving moral progress in a harmoniously integrated way alongside traditional moral education and psychotherapy.

Prof. Fr. Michael Baggot at Human Flourishing Forum 2024

By Sydney Hyndman, UNESCO Chair Intern

On May 23-24, Humanity 2.0 invited a diverse group of academic, corporate and religious partners from around the world to gather at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in the Vatican to participate in the 2024 Human Flourishing Forum.

Humanity 2.0 is a non-profit organization that is passionate about creating a world in which every individual has the opportunity to flourish. As a panelist for the “Tech Frontiers – Beyond the Doom and Boom Binary” panel, Assistant Professor in Bioethics and UNESCO Chair Research Scholar, Prof. Fr. Michael Baggot, LC, gave a captivating speech in which he explored the future of our society as it intertwines with AI. In Prof. Fr. Baggot’s presentation, he delved into the relationship between the concepts of “doom and boom”, highlighting the importance of recognizing both perspectives as we experience in AI one of the most rapid technological revolutions in history. Prof. Fr. Baggot emphasized that it is essential for our society to understand the ethical implications of AI, and the harmful aspects that it may introduce into our world. For example, he cautioned about the dangers of political manipulation through disinformation and deep fakes, and also highlighted the risks of exploiting human vulnerability for economic gain through artificial intimacy platforms. However, Prof. Fr. Baggot maintains a deep hope for humanity to engage in the ethical use of AI in a manner that helps us achieve the goals of global human flourishing. He provided examples of the benefits of AI in the areas of assisting in complex medical diagnosis and for educational purposes such as online tutoring and translation platforms.

In summary, the 2024 Human Flourishing Forum provided a realistic check on the state of the world, as we work collectively to promote human flourishing to establish a brighter future. Furthermore, the Forum developed a theoretical framework for professionals and specialists to collaborate and engage with each other in their respective areas of expertise. In order to develop a future in which all humans across the world can flourish, cross sectional collaboration is necessary. Flourishing is for everyone, and by everyone.

Prof. Lílian Santos at the Expanded Reason 2024 Integral Ecology Conference – Madrid

By Sydney Hyndman, UNESCO Chair Intern

On June 10-12, the Expanded Reason Institute invited academics from around the world to the Francisco de Vitoria University in Madrid to participate in the 2024 Integral Ecology Congress.

Inspired by Pope Francis’s famous encyclical, Laudato Si, the Integral Ecology Congress sought to explore an all-encompassing vision of ecology and its connection to diverse sectors such as the environment, the economy and our society. As the 21st Century experiences an anthropological and ecological crisis, it is necessary to address these challenges through a multidisciplinary approach.

On the first day of the congress, Professor Lílian Santos, Research Scholar at UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights and Professor of Bioethics at Regina Apostolorum, delivered a presentation exploring gene editing and theology from an expanded perspective. She discussed expanded reason themes from a dual perspective. Specifically, she examined how the global governance of genome editing can be challenged by the ideas of Laudato Si, and conversely explored how Laudato Si can be inspired by genetic knowledge and the possibilities that exist within the field of gene editing. Furthermore, Professor Santos highlighted a number of issues in gene editing that are not covered in the encyclical, such as the de-extinction of some species, the use of gene drives in disease-transmitting species, gene editing in animals for transplantation, advances in hybrids and chimeras, and the rise of biohackers. Overall, Professor Santos’ presentation on expanded reason encouraged both the sectors of gene editing and theology to consider new realities, bringing collaborative approaches to the table.