Introduction to the Project on Bioethics for Informed Choices
- Darryl Macer, Ph.D..
Eubios Ethics Institute, New Zealand/Japan; United Nations University, JAPAN
Internet site <http://www.biol.tsukuba.ac.jp/~macer/betext.htm>
Internet site (Japanese) <http://www.biol.tsukuba.ac.jp/~macer/betextj.htm>
English listserve <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Bioethicseducation/>
Student listserve <Bioethics_for_students@yahoogroups.com>
The project "Bioethics education for informed citizens across cultures" aims to produce teaching materials for bioethics education in different countries. This includes a textbook that could be used in school and university classes to teach about bioethical issues. One type of classes it can be used in is English (or foreign language classes) classes, but it will not be limited to any one particular field nor inseparably tied to efforts that attempt to push inclusion of bioethics into government-set school curriculum. The material will also assess the possible criteria that could be used to measure the success of bioethics education, and the effectiveness of different forms of education for making mature citizens.
In the first year, 2003, 20 case chapters for the textbook were made, tested in classes, and were revised. As chapters were written, revised and edited, they were tested by a network of teachers in the different countries. Some school and university teachers have conducted trials. There was tape recordings of the classes made and collection of written essays and homework done by the students, which was analyzed to improve the chapter first drafts. Feedback is being used to revise the chapters and produce a revised integrated textbook, and teacher's resources. The textbook is being used in the second year (2005) to improve and produce a second version in 2006. The communication with teachers involved travel of contact persons in Australia, China, India, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, and Taiwan, and meetings were held at the time of ABC5/TRT9.
Topics include the following: Autonomy, Justice, Benefits versus risks, Animal rights?, Intrinsic and extrinsic ethical factors, Genetic testing and privacy, Trash and Treasure Activity on Testing for cancer gene susceptibility, AIDS Testing, The Heart Transplant, Ethics and Driving Cars, Ecotourism and ethics, Sustainable Development, Euthanasia, Telling the truth about terminal cancer, Genetic engineering and Food, Reproduction and Fertility, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Technology, Artificial insemination, Sperm, Egg and Embryo Donation, Surrogacy, Somatic Cell Gene Therapy, Germ-line gene therapy, Human cloning, Eugenics, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).
The main products have been:
1) Materials for teaching bioethics;
2) A textbook that could be used in school and university classes to teach about bioethical issues;
3) A network of teachers in different countries.
In the first year there has been consensus among those involved that we can measure the success of bioethics education in several ways. Some goals of bioethics identified from discussions with teachers include:
1) Increasing respect for life;
2) Balancing benefits and risks of Science and Technology;
3) Understanding better the diversity of views of different persons.
We do not need to achieve all three goals to consider a class to be successful, and different teachers and schools put a different amount of emphasis on each goal. This section of the book includes a series of papers on bioethics education trials in different countries, including several from outside the project as well.
The support of the Sasagawa Peace Foundation for the project "Developing Bioethics
. pp. 531-532 in Macer, DRJ., ed., "Challenges for Bioethics from Asia" (Eubios Ethics Institute, 2004).