“Multicultural and Interreligious Perspectives on the Ethics of Human Reproduction”

Editors: Joseph Tham, Alberto Garcia Gómez, John Lunstroth
Publisher: Springer
Year: 2021
Link: springer.com

This book includes a number of distinct religious and secular views on the anthropological, ethical and social challenges of reproductive technologies in the light of human rights and in the context of global bioethics.  It includes contributions of bioethics experts from six major religions—Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Judaism—as well as secular authors.  The chapters  include commentaries discussing the content cross-religious/secular tradition to give a comparative perspective.  Not only the volume editors but also the contributing authors took part in reviewing each others’ chapter making this a unique collected volume, not common in interreligious dialogue today. This text appeals to researchers and students working in the fields of bioethics and religious/secular studies.

This volume is the result of the VII International Workshop Bioethics, Multiculturalism and Religion held in Casablanca in 2019.

Magíster en Doctrina Social de la Iglesia. Reflexión y vida

The Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in collaboration with the University Finis Terrae of Santiago de Chile, the University Francisco de Vitoria – Spain, and the Society of Consecrated Lay Apostolic Life of Regnum Christi promotes a new online training course in Spanish.


This course will confer the Chilean civil title of Magíster en Doctrina Social de la Iglesia. Reflexión y vida, a second-cycle academic degree for the Chilean university system.

This program confers two degrees: Master’s Degree in Social Doctrine of the Church. Reflection and Life (The University Fines Terrae – Chile) and Título Propio (The University Francisco de Vitoria – Spain).

In this sense, the Master’s Degree is promoted with the purpose of covering the need for solid formation in the subject, having as its main audience Catholics with professional, management, and leadership responsibilities who wish to deepen in the social doctrine of the Church (reflection) and in the connection of this thought with concrete realities (life), to acquire skills that help them to develop their functions and concrete tasks according to the principles and criteria of the social doctrine of the Church. In addition, the course is also aimed at formators, teachers, catechists, priests and consecrated persons, to acquire skills that will help them to develop their functions and concrete tasks according to the principles, criteria, and values of the social doctrine of the Church.

The program aims to foster and project the apostolic conscience of Christians, offering formative tools for the evangelization of temporal realities. To this end, it seeks to provide an overview of the content of the social doctrine of the Church and to facilitate the deeper study of an area of interest. These intentions are expressed in the following objectives:

  • To provide a rigorous and up-to-date formation in the unity and in the various areas of the Church’s social doctrine, oriented to research in the multiple spheres of social life, from the family to the international community, in interdisciplinary dialogue, and for the edification of the civilization of justice and love.
  • To contribute to the development of lines of research on problems in the different areas of the Church’s social doctrine in order to cooperate in the academic advancement of this field.
  • To teach a vision and a methodology of approach to social problems capable of transforming personal and social life with the Gospel.

With a course load of 60 ECTS, to be taken in two years, distributed in four semesters, the academic program of studies is structured in a Common Module with 20 obligatory credits; three optional itineraries, each of which consists of 28 ECTS. The student chooses between:

  • Optional Itinerary 1: The Person and the Environment;
  • Optional Itinerary 2: The Social Role of Private Initiative;
  • Optional Itinerary 3: Public Administration and International Society.

The entire Master’s program is conceived as a dialogue between faith and reason, with an intentional focus on the evangelization of temporal realities, that is, the Christian transformation of the spheres of social life.

It is possible to follow the study remotely (in Spanish). Activities and synchronous classes by videoconference.

The Director of the Magister is Prof. Emilio Martinez Albesa, Extraordinary Professor of our Faculty of Theology.

MORE INFO&ENROLLMENT: DOCTRINALSOCIAL.NET

BROCHURE

The 20th Bioethics Summer Course

Course presentation

The 2Oth Bioethics Summer Course “Bioethics, Death, and Immortality” will take place July 4-8, 2022. The course will be taught in Italian and English, with simultaneous translation available in both languages. The course is organized by the Faculty of Bioethics in collaboration with the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights established at the Pontifical University Regina Apostolorum and the European University of Rome.

Description

This Summer Course will address the themes of human mortality and the aspiration to immortality in light of current bioethical issues. Death is a reality common to all of us. Philosophers have reflected on the question of suffering and our eventual demise over the centuries. Many cultures and religious traditions have also addressed the quest for immortality since time immemorial. Current debates about emerging technologies, health care costs, and transhumanism are more recent manifestations of these age-old bioethical questions.

Structure of the Course

The Course consists of lectures, question and answer sessions, seminars, film forums, and interactive group activities. Bioethics faculty members and other experts will participate as speakers and moderators of group dynamics. The course proposes an interdisciplinary study of the phenomenon of death and the search for immortality in order to promote knowledge and understanding of life span extension techniques, the benefits and risks involved in such techniques, and their impact on the vision of human nature today and for future generations. The course will offer participants the opportunity to acquire the necessary skills for the proper ethical evaluation of these cutting-edge technologies and effective guidance for wise use of these technologies in the context of the life sciences and the medical profession. In addition, the course will provide orientation for the use of this knowledge in the daily professional practice of those who work in the scientific, medical, political, legal, social, communication, or educational fields.

General Information

  • The objectives of the course are especially important for doctors and health personnel; biologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists; educators, especially secondary and high school teachers; priests, catechists and other agents of pastoral care; lawyers, jurists, journalists, communicators, and sociologists and all those who are interested in the cultural and social dynamics of the present day and wish to have an informed and critical perspective on the cutting edge issues in the ethics of biotechnology.
  • Topics are covered by members of the Faculty of Bioethics and external experts from different countries.
  • All participants in the full sessions will receive a certificate of attendance.
  • Attendance is mandatory for 80% of the course to be eligible for a certificate of attendance (upon request).
  • The webinar is worth 1 ECTS credit.
  • Simultaneous translation is available in Italian and English.
  • For other language groups, simultaneous translation will be offered if the number of students is greater than 10.

Academic Fees

The payment is made once the student has registered and according to the instructions that will be provided by e-mail. Payment can be made by credit card, bank transfer, or at the Athenaeum desk by appointment.

Standard Fee:Five sessions (5 days)270€
Five sessions (5 days) + 1 (ECTS) through an exam275€
Special Category:
Priests, Religious, APRA Bioethics Students, APRA Alumni, PhD in Bioethics, RIU Professors
Five sessions (5 days)220€
Five sessions (5 days) + 1 (ECTS) through an exam225€

Art and Bioethics

by Ana Maria Ganev

“And, certainly, to him life itself was the first, the greatest, of the arts,

and for it all the other arts seemed to be but a preparation.”

by Oscar Wilde

The Bioesthetics Study Group of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights is an interdisciplinary and international network that works as part of the “Bioethics Global Art” project of bridging art and bioethics. While Bioethics moves us to confront ethical challenges, the arts enable us to reflect on the human condition and on ourselves by triggering a change in moral attitudes and inspire us to embark on a journey of inner transformation. Thus, the universal values within bioethics are opening to aesthetic explorations due to a growing recognition of the arts as an effective way of engaging people in a stimulating debate and an interdisciplinary search of social, cultural and ethical issues around contemporary science and its more recent developments.

Throughout the history of human artistic expression we can observe how the issues concerning human health and its frailty have been visually depicted to engage the audience.

For instance, Byzantine and Medieval art were focused on representing moral values and virtuous actions through allegories or the delineation of figures in an idealized, flat form. Moreover, subjects of artistical expression were biblical characters, placing emphasis on the relationship to the divine and manifesting the glory of a heavenly world.

Renaissance artists introduced new degrees of realism; indeed the realistic depiction of the material world mirrored the corporeality of the human body, thus exposing the fragility of human psycho-physical constitution by portraying physical flaws that we can today recognize as a medical condition. Among the stigmata of disease afflicting the subjects of portraits, we can notice syphilis, tetanus, disability, hypertrichosis, Paget’s disease, mental insanity, plague and Spanish flu.

Finally, Modernism and contemporary art exposed all the limits of the human body and the separation of the mind from the body. More recently, hybrid and bio artists experiment with their own bodies and seek to engage audiences in challenging ethical dilemmas and assumptions about life and existence. By deconstructing the embodied nature of the human being, contemporary art has shaped the concept that “the human body is obsolete”, as in, it is just a vehicle of the mind and therefore can be used as a canvas for art on the very edge of human experience.

Among the numerous perspectives and methods to express and analyze bioethical issues as well as ethical concerns, it is through the language of art that such topics emerge not only as a rational process but as an experiential process and emotional internalization.

“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul,

 and paints his own nature into his pictures.”

by Henry Ward Beecher

UNESCO member states adopt the first ever global agreement on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence

Source: en.unesco.org


Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO presented Thursday the first ever global standard on the ethics of artificial intelligence adopted by the member states of UNESCO at the General Conference.

This historical text defines the common values and principles which will guide the construction of the necessary legal infrastructure to ensure the healthy development of AI.

AI is pervasive, and enables many of our daily routines – booking flights, steering driverless cars, and personalising our morning news feeds. AI also supports the decision-making of governments and the private sector.  

AI technologies are delivering remarkable results in highly specialized fields such as cancer screening and building inclusive environments for people with disabilities. They also help combat global problems like climate change and world hunger, and help reduce poverty by optimizing economic aid.

But the technology is also bringing new unprecedented challenges. We see increased gender and ethnic bias, significant threats to privacy, dignity and agency, dangers of mass surveillance, and increased use of unreliable AI technologies in law enforcement, to name a few. Until now, there were no universal standards to provide an answer to these issues.

In 2018, Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, launched an ambitious project: to give the world an ethical framework for the use of artificial intelligence. Three years later, thanks to the mobilization of hundreds of experts from around the world and intense international negotiations, the 193 UNESCO’s member states have just officially adopted this ethical framework.

The world needs rules for artificial intelligence to benefit humanity. The Recommendation on the ethics of AI is a major answer. It sets the first global normative framework while giving States the responsibility to apply it at their level. UNESCO will support its 193 Member States in its implementation and ask them to report regularly on their progress and practices. Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General

The content of the recommendation

The Recommendation aims to realize the advantages AI brings to society and reduce the risks it entails. It ensures that digital transformations promote human rights and contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, addressing issues around transparency, accountability and privacy, with action-oriented policy chapters on data governance, education, culture, labour, healthcare and the economy. 

  1. Protecting data 

The Recommendation calls for action beyond what tech firms and governments are doing to guarantee individuals more protection by ensuring transparency, agency and control over their personal data. It states that individuals should all be able to access or even erase records of their personal data. It also includes actions to improve data protection and an individual’s knowledge of, and right to control, their own data. It also increases the ability of regulatory bodies around the world to enforce this.

  1. Banning social scoring and mass surveillance

The Recommendation explicitly bans the use of AI systems for social scoring and mass surveillance. These types of technologies are very invasive, they infringe on human rights and fundamental freedoms, and they are used in a broad way. The Recommendation stresses that when developing regulatory frameworks, Member States should consider that ultimate responsibility and accountability must always lie with humans and that AI technologies should not be given legal personality themselves. 

  1. Helping to monitor and evaluate

The Recommendation also sets the ground for tools that will assist in its implementation. Ethical Impact Assessment is intended to help countries and companies developing and deploying AI systems to assess the impact of those systems on individuals, on society and on the environment. Readiness Assessment Methodology helps Member States to assess how ready they are in terms of legal and technical infrastructure. This tool will assist in enhancing the institutional capacity of countries and recommend appropriate measures to be taken in order to ensure that ethics are implemented in practice. In addition, the Recommendation encourages Member States to consider adding the role of an independent AI Ethics Officer or some other mechanism to oversee auditing and continuous monitoring efforts. 

  1. Protecting the environment

The Recommendation emphasises that AI actors should favour data, energy and resource-efficient AI methods that will help ensure that AI becomes a more prominent tool in the fight against climate change and on tackling environmental issues. The Recommendation asks governments to assess the direct and indirect environmental impact throughout the AI system life cycle. This includes its carbon footprint, energy consumption and the environmental impact of raw material extraction for supporting the manufacturing of AI technologies. It also aims at reducing the environmental impact of AI systems and data infrastructures. It incentivizes governments to invest in green tech, and if there are disproportionate negative impact of AI systems on the environment, the Recommendation instruct that they should not be used.

Decisions impacting millions of people should be fair, transparent and contestable. These new technologies must help us address the major challenges in our world today, such as increased inequalities and the environmental crisis, and not deepening them.

Gabriela Ramos, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences

Emerging technologies such as AI have proven their immense capacity to deliver for good. However, its negative impacts that are exacerbating an already divided and unequal world, should be controlled. AI developments should abide by the rule of law, avoiding harm, and ensuring that when harm happens, accountability and redressal mechanisms are at hand for those affected.

Media contact: Clare O’Hagan, c.o-hagan@unesco.org(link sends e-mail), +33(0)145681729