Realistic teaching of bioethics
In the beginning of March 2003 more than 30 participants from the Nordic and Baltic countries were gathered for the Teaching bioethics seminar at Klækken in Norway. 20 lecturers from all Nordic countries shared their knowledge of the teaching of bioethics.
- The discussions and group work in particular were popular activities, says course co-ordinator and Secretary General for the Nordic Committee on Bioethics, Helena von Troil.
The seminar was arranged by NorFA in co-operation with the Nordic Committee on Bioethics and the themes were methods for teaching bioethics, i.e. ethical issues in connection with medicine or modern biotechnology.
- These last few years the demand for teaching of bioethics and the number of such courses have increased. However, bioethics is a new field, cross-curricular by nature. Many that teach bioethics are not experts of the field. The teaching of bioethics is demanding in many ways: Not only do you teach the theory, but also the ability of ethical consideration and practice in the daily work situation. For these reasons, a course on how to best teach bioethics was due, says course co-ordinator Jakob Elster from the Norwegian Biotechnology Advisory Board.
The course placed emphasis on group exercises to try out methods. Even though, or should one say because the participants represented different academic fields, this worked perfectly:
-The participants were philosophers, natural scientists and from the humanities. All were experienced and knew the issues well. This gave the course a thoroughly high standard, says Helena von Troil.
One of the main themes of the course was the difference between a theoretically-based approach (the application of ethical theories on given issues) and a more case-based approach (where the point of departure is a concrete matter and where theory plays a less important role).
The course leaders were also very pleased with the lecturers, many of which stayed at the course for several days, participating actively in the activities.