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546Challenges for Bioethics from Asia

Shoji: People have different points of views.  The tutor has his or her own thoughts about the matter but he or she tries not to express that in the beginning. Ordinarily, the class is centered on students and it is only in the end that the tutor expresses his or her opinion. It is not a matter of looking for one way of correct thinking or behavior. But through a lot of different opinions, students can learn by forming their own view. And they write their thoughts in their reports. We do not consider that there is a specific and correct way of evaluation.

Shinagawa: I have taught at Hirosaki University for a long time. It was about 30 years ago when it was clear that the Japanese educational system wasn’t doing well. It was at that time when Tsukuba University was established as a university with a new structure. Because of this basic difference, Tsukuba University can conduct classes such as this.  However, this was not the case in my university. There were 3-4 reasons why we failed. First, a lot of professors were against change. Second, in order to do this kind of class, structurally there was a need for many small rooms which we didn’t have. Third, there weren’t a lot of books in the library. In some instances there was only one book to read. Because of the mentality that only book was needed. And fourth, students studied only to pass the medical test. I think this is a failure of the Ministry of Education. It wasn’t clear that we were aiming for the recognition of good students.  That’s why we didn’t do well in our university. So I am very happy about the situation of Professor Shoji in Tsukuba University. However I still have concerns about the availability of small rooms, the quality of library sources and the stubbornness of professors. But again, congratulations.

Shoji:  About the small rooms, we are currently making 40 new ones. And the minds of professors can’t be changed. So we are looking instead at young instructors.

Bioethics Education in a Catholic University

- Joong Ho Kim, M.D., Ph.D. .

Catholic University of Korea, SOUTH KOREA

Email: pbl@cmc.cuk.ac.kr

Since 1960, a lot of problems about medical ethics have occurred in the Korean medical field due to the introduction, development and adoption of advanced medical technology. In 1985, the first test tube baby by external fertilization was born in Korea. Furthermore, these days women who do not possess ovaries can produce children through IVF. In addition, it has become possible to transplant the liver or the heart of patients who are in a brain-dead condition.  The legislation on brain death and the rejection of the abortion law are currently socially controversial issues in medical ethics.  The problems surrounding medical ethics are no longer issues for patients alone; these also involve patients’ families, physicians and society at large. Everyone should recognize these problems and participate in decision making and judgment.

Although bioethics education is desperately needed in Korean medical society; the educational curriculum is not organized and there are only few textbooks written in Korean. Since 1985, our university curriculum has offered a course in bioethics in order to serve as ethical guide in planning and decision making for many physicians who are training under medical courses.  This course also helps in understanding the diverse problems in bioethics which are happening to lay people in modern society.

The goal of bioethics education is to give a guide that provides correct judgment and direction for problems which people are confronted with in their daily lives such as the manipulation and deprivation of human life as incurred in modern high-tech medicine; and to develop a right ethical consciousness in future physicians.

Discussion

De Castro: Can you say that your teaching of bioethics can be characterized as Asian? And what sense is it Asian?

Kim: I don’t think so.  In the basis of human life, I don’t want to think of this as Asian, Western or what.

. p. 546 in Macer, DRJ., ed., "Challenges for Bioethics from Asia" (Eubios Ethics Institute, 2004).

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