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556Challenges for Bioethics from Asia

cover a certain amount of material, some students are mostly concerned with ‘learning for the test’).

-The participants saw how to teach in more effective and interactive ways. The course fused two programs and aims. Some scholars lectured and presented Power Point slides without much concern about how to teach. Some Chinese scholars seemed to expect they should spend considerable time talking about “sexy” cases and “hot” issues that are typical in Western bioethics but not imminent in China.

-The process character of interpreting and analysing ethical dilemmas matters. More time should be allotted to teaching ethics, especially how to take advantage of the creative resources in class and react to unexpected challenges or findings.

-Participants/students are valuable sources of skills and moral experience and reflection. It is helpful to request continued attendance, mid-term evaluations and post-course evaluation. Lecturers should join class even when their colleagues take over.

-Continuity is a key to improving the course and to open it for all who need it.  Some participants attended both the first and second course. They introduced their experience in putting into practice the skills and approaches that they learned in Dalian. They reported successes but also new questions and problems. A course or forum is needed to address the issues that the participants may encounter when they try to change the aims, methods, or approaches in their teaching and refine their methods.

-A sustainable system for education in medical ethics depends upon a healthy institutional background or infrastructure. The long-term goal should be to help develop an association of Chinese teachers of medical ethics that could take over the work of the course. First practical steps have been achieved since the Fall of 2003 at Beijing University’s Medical School.

All these comments, in content and in their very existence, indicate that the chosen focus and the methodological approach were as successful as an organiser could reasonably hope they would be. It will be advisable for anyone who organises such a course to listen carefully and pay attention to the expressed and implicit needs of the medical ethics teachers in the classroom, and to invite participants of the former courses as co-organisers. Since most of the critical comments were anticipated and do not aim at the academic parts of the course, adjusting the timetable and structure will be part of the original design. More satisfying conditions depend on the availability of the required financial means. Prospects are good, that this approach can eventually assist medical ethics in Chinese universities to develop a healthy basis from China’s own cultural grassroots.


I am indebted to Jim Dwyer, Nie Jingbao and Ann Boyd for their invaluable contributions to the success of these courses under difficult situation, their wisdom and wonderful personalities, and to Gerald Neitzke for teaching me a lot about teaching medical ethics. Ann Boyd, again, provided constructive comments to an earlier version of this paper, which I  took to heart. Most of all, I am grateful to the participants in these courses. For all their dedication, sincerity, good humour and narratives from their experience they are being my true teachers.


Theodor Ballauff, Philosophische Begründungen der Pädagogik, 1966,

Theodor Ballauff, Pädagogik. Eine Geschichte der Bildung und Erziehung, 3 Bde, 1969-73

Ann Lewis Boyd and Ole Doering, "Teaching Ethics in Two Cultures", Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics Vol 11 (6) November 2001: 184-

Chen Renbiao und Qiu Xiangxing, „The Present Status of Medical Ethics Education in the Key Medical Universities in China“, in Ole Döring (ed.), Chinese Scientists and Responsibility. Ethical Issues of Human Genetics in Chinese and International Contexts, Mitteilungen des Instituts für Asienkunde 314, Hamburg 1999: S.45-55.

Cong Yali, 1998.Ethical challenges in clinical care medicine:A Chinese perspective,.Journal of

Medicine and Philosophy 23(6):581-600.

Ya-li Cong, ‚Bioethics in China‘, The Annals of Bioethics. Regional Perspectives in Bioethics,

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