UNESCO initiated its Ethics Education Programme (EEP) in 2004 after Member States expressed the need to initiate and support teaching programs and professional education in bioethics as well as ethics in all fields of sciences.
UNESCO is actively engaging with all stakeholders in a multi-pronged approach to reinforce ethics education around the world. Its overall objective is to reinforce and increase the capacities of Member States in this area.
Article 20 of the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights underlines the need for the promotion of education in bioethics.
Article 23 of the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights encourages States to foster bioethics education and training at all levels and to encourage the dissemination of programmes. Ethics education is an effective and attractive way to apply the provisions of the Declaration.
International Standard Setting Instruments
- Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights
- International Declaration on Human Genetic Data
- Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights
- Declaration of Ethical Principles in Relation to Climate Change
Under the EEP programme, UNESCO
- Provides various educational resources including publications and videos
- Organizes in coordination with academic institutions, Ethics Teacher Training Courses (ETTCs) around the world, and
- Cooperates with UNESCO Chairs and expert networks to promote bioethics and ethics of science education.
In many countries, even if there is the motivation to introduce ethics teaching, problems will be encountered in the implementation, due to lack of adequate resources. For example, students cannot afford to buy textbooks or study materials. UNESCO with its experiences in education is in the position to remedy this situation. Learning materials can be provided for free, for example through the distribution of materials or through the dissemination of literature via the internet.
There is also a need to develop educational materials that pay specific attention to the various cultural and ethical situations in different parts of the world. Ethical problems may be different among Member States, and based on the agreement on the principles adopted in the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, culturally Taylor made approaches need to be developed to address such ethical issues.
UNESCO has developed useful materials for bioethics education based on the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, 2005.
- Bioethics Core Curriculum, Section 1: Syllabus. Ethics Education Programme, UNESCO, 2016
- Bioethics Core Curriculum, Section 2: Study materials. Ethics Education programme, UNESCO, 2011
- Casebook on Human Dignity and Human Rights, Bioethics Core Curriculum Casebook Series, No. 1, UNESCO, 2011
- Casebook on Benefit and Harm, Bioethics Core Curriculum Casebook Series, No. 2, UNESCO, 2011
One of the main features of the Core Curriculum is that is based on a global agreement of principles that can accommodate different cultural settings. It is a 30 hours training course, that can be included as elective courses, but also inspire the development of a full master program on itself. It has also been used as one of the parameters in some countries to evaluate ethics teaching in medical schools. Furthermore, an MoU can be signed with Universities interested in its implementation, with no financial implication, to facilitate the support and collaboration with UNESCO. Currently, more than 40 universities around the world have implemented it through this MoU.
Additional teaching resources are:
- Reports and Advices of the International Bioethics Committee
- Reports of the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology
- More publications on Bioethics and Ethics of Science and Technology
- Bioethics Training for Journalists (Spanish only)
Ethics Teacher Training Courses (ETTCs)
UNESCO provides technical support to individual and institutions to implement bioethics and ethics of science education programmes, and train teachers in the methodology for the teaching of ethics, especially through its Ethics Teacher Training Courses (ETTCs).
Ethics Teacher Training Courses (ETTC) are designed to support quality ethics education around the world by building professional capacities of ethics teachers. They are one of the main components of UNESCO’s efforts to build professional capacities in bioethics and the ethics of science and technology. They mainly target bioethics or ethics of science educators who have recently begun teaching, or will soon commence their teaching careers at various institutions of higher education.
Since 2014, UNESCO trained over 1,000 participants from over 70 countries on how to enhance ethics courses at the higher educational level through its Ethics Teacher Training Courses (ETTCs). Over 30 universities in 14 countries also introduced the UNESCO Bioethics Core Curriculum in their teaching.
The Courses will
- introduce participants to the means and resources for teaching ethics of sciences and bioethics;
- teach participants methodologies and methods for teaching ethics of sciences and bioethics;
- assess and provide feedback on participants’ demonstrations of teaching skills under the guidance of experienced facilitators.
They are conducted by a team composed of international and local experts with extensive experience in ethics and bioethics education.
The Courses are based on a five-day training session developed by UNESCO in collaboration with global experts in ethics and bioethics education.
Modules include the following key components:
- Global and national perspectives on ethics teaching: trends, challenges, and opportunities.
- The UNESCO Core Curriculum as a tool for promoting quality ethics education.
- Ethics teaching in action: what and how to teach (approaches and methods).
- Workshop: sharing experiences in ethics teaching from local perspectives.
- Classroom communication: pedagogy and psychology of ethics teaching.
- Simulated teaching presentations by participants followed by feedback from the Course facilitators.
Within this framework, the Course can be modified to accommodate specific needs and expectations of the country and the region hosting the training.
The venues for the Courses are based on the expressed regional and national capacity-building need for bioethics education, and an agreement made with the academic hosting institution. Often, an Ethics Teachers’ Training Course is offered in conjunction with the introduction of the Bioethics Core Curriculum in participating universities, with a view to training the instructors working with the curriculum.
Announcement and timeframe of the course
Each Course is announced a few months in advance to give participants sufficient time for planning. The announcement includes information concerning the venue and dates of the training, and specific requirements that may be associated with that particular training.
Participants and selection criteria
Each training course accommodates from 20 to 30 participants. The announcement of a course, made as soon as the venue and dates become available, provides the application form for all interested candidates. Decisions concerning admission to the course will be made on the basis of the following criteria:
- Masters or higher degree (in areas such as law, medicine, philosophy, ethics, social sciences);
- University affiliation (teaching experience or plans to engage in teaching);
- Good command of the language of instruction;
- Content of the motivation letter (minimum of 600 words), stating the trainee’s reasons for participating in the course and expectations concerning the use of the acquired knowledge.
There is no tuition fee for participating in an Ethics Teachers’ Training Course. Participants are expected to cover charges related to their travel to the venue, and their lodging and food for the duration of the training.
UNESCO Chairs and Expert Networks
A UNESCO Chair is a project and a team at a university or a higher education or research institution that partners with UNESCO in order to advance knowledge and practice in an area that is a priority for both the institution and UNESCO. A Chair on bioethics may be developed within a university department by reinforcing an existing teaching/research programme in the field of bioethics or ethics of science and technology and giving it an international dimension.
Chairs in the field of bioethics:
- UNESCO Chair of Bioethics, established in 1994 at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina
Chairholder: Professor Dr (Mr) Salvador Dario Bergel
- UNESCO Chair in Bioethics, established in 1998 at Egerton University, Kenya
Chairholder: Professor Dr (Mr) Jude Mathooko
- UNESCO Chair of Bioethics established in 2001 at Haifa University, Israel
Chairholder: Professor (Mr) Amnon Carmi
- UNESCO Chair in Bioethics: “Bioetica en el contexto de America Latina”, established in 2005 at the University of Brasilia, Brazil.
Chairholder: Professor Dr (Mr) Volnei Garrafa
- UNESCO Chair in Bioethics, established in 2007 at the University of Barcelona, Spain
Chairholder: Professor Dr (Ms) Maria Casado
- UNESCO Chair in Bioethics, established in 2009 at Universidad Católica Portuguesa, Porto, Portugal
Chairholder: Professor (Ms) Ana Sofia Carvalho
- UNESCO Chair in Bioethics, established in 2009 at Università Europea di Roma and Ateneo Pontificio Regina Apostolorum of Rome, Italia
Chairholder: Professor (Mr) Alberto Garcia
- UNESCO Chair in Bioethics, established in 2010 at the University of Presov, Slovakia
Chairholder: Professor (Mr) Vasil Gluchman
- UNESCO Chair in Bioethics, established in 2010 at Alassane Ouattara University, Bouaké, Côte d’Ivoire
Chairholder: Professor (Mr) Lazare Marcelin Poamé
- UNESCO Chair on Bioethics, established in 2016, at the Kazan State Medical University, Russian Federation
Chairholder: Professor (Mr) Aleksey Sozinov
- UNESCO Chair in Bioethics, established in 2016 at the Medical University of Vienna, Austria
Chairholder: Professor (Ms) Christiane Druml
- Chaire UNESCO « Ethique du Vivant et de l’Artificiel » (EVA), established in 2019 at the Université Paris 8, Paris, France
Chairholder: Maîtresse de conférence, (Ms) Vanessa Nurock
- UNESCO Chair on Bioethics, established in 2020 at the University of Ain Shams, Cairo, Egypt
Chairholder: Assistant Professor (Ms) Sonya Azab Mohamad Sayed Ahmad
Chair in the field of ethics of science and technology:
- UNESCO Chair in Environmental Ethics, established in 2006 at the East Siberia State University of Technology, Ulan-Ude, Russian Federation
Director: Professor Vyacheslav Mantanov
- More information on the UNESCO/UNITWIN network
UNESCO supports the creation of expert networks to promote ethics education:
Through the life-long distance-learning programme in bioethics, initiated by Redbioética and UNESCO, over 2,400 students from 28 countries have been trained on research ethics and on clinical and social bioethics.