Network - Program description


Motivation and Background

Bioethical questions are increasingly being dealt with at the European level. Yet many different ways of approaching bioethics exist both within the teaching of moral theology and social ethics at theological faculties and in other faculties, especially in medicine, of the various Central European countries. The network aims at discussing methodological and value-based differences and dogmatic fundaments that have their origin in the various political histories and traditions as well as in the different cultural and religious backgrounds that form not only an inter-confessional (Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox) Christian religion, but also an interreligious community (Islam). The network therefore focuses on dialogue between the various approaches by offering closer cooperation. An inter-confessional exchange has been promoted and should be developed further. Dialogue with Islamic faculties gradually needs to be integrated. Cooperation with related faculties (philosophy, medicine) also needs to be continued. Taking these differences into account, it is necessary to complement existing curricula by seminars and lectures that present special approaches that are not present in all universities. While cooperation within the CEEPUS network has been very successful with respect to the exchange of students and teachers, it has so far proved to be very difficult to harmonise curricula. This is due to the fact that curricula in general are under continuous change at the various places and often cannot freely be changed because of financial and policy restraints.

The aims of the network therefore are

1. To concentrate on a smaller group of Faculties that have the highest probability of succeeding in harmonising their curricula in a way that they offer 15-30 ECTS points that should be acquired by participating in courses and lectures at other faculties.

2. To set excellence priorities in this program, students from within the network and interested students from without are admitted to the intensive courses and summer schools according to excellence criteria.

3. To develop stricter language criteria for participation, and to offer more opportunities for practicing German or English as a foreign language before participating in the courses, as well as to encourage gifted students to stay for a longer period.

4. To integrate an Islamic faculty as a future partner in the network. As a preparatory step, students and teachers from Islamic faculties will be invited to participate before establishing formal cooperation.

5. Once the new model of cooperation at a Ph.D. level will be established, an expansion to similar models of cooperation within the Master's level will be planned.

Languages of instruction

 All faculty members of the participating institutions are able to lecture in German and/or English. Students who wish to participate in the network are required to have sufficient language proficiency. Faculty members are also prepared to offer personal tutorials for incoming short term students in English or German. Some exchanges will not require English or German - as those between the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Some institutions, as the Theological Faculty at Pecs, are offering special language courses to train their students in German and English, or a special course for acquiring technical vocabulary, the Catholic Theological Faculty of Vienna teaches German for Theologians.

Student mobility exchange

 The network helps to further encourage students to study at other faculties. First exchanges have been stimulated by the activity of the BCE network. The summer or spring schools for MA and Ph.D. students that were offered during winter semester 2015/16 have been very successful and will therefore be continued with the aim that students acquire 15-30 ECTS during their studies by attending international seminars. Students can build up contacts that make it easier to approach professors of other Universities and to create long lasting personal and academic contacts. In order to take advantage of the specific bioethical expertise of faculty members, students who are preparing for their Master's thesis are encouraged as doctoral students to use short term stays for a personal contact with experts in the field they are working in.

Faculty exchange

The faculty exchange has been directed towards getting to know the respective methodologies and specific research interests of the participants. Amongst the areas which form parts of the curricula there are more common ones as Fundamental Questions of Moral Theology, the Foundation of Ethical Theory and the contribution of Christian belief to it, and Special Questions which can vary, still being shared between a substantive part of the members, as e.g.

(1) Anthropological Foundations of Bioethics (all participants);
(2) Social and Cultural Aspects of Bioethics, e.g. poverty and health (Budweis, Prague, Vienna, Pecs, Opole, Ljubljana, Sarajevo);
(3) Medical Ethics (Vienna, Budapest, Opole, Zagreb, Graz, Arad);
(4) Ecumenical and Inter-religious Aspects of Bioethics (Sibiu, Cluj, Vienna, Belgrade, Sarajevo);
(5) Family Related Bioethics (Vienna, Opole, Pecs, Kosice, Ceske Budejovice);
(6) Gender Aspects of Bioethics (Pecs, Vienna, Prague, Trnava, Olomouc); Bioethics and New Technologies (Zagreb, Vienna, Budapest, Prague, Pecs, Graz).


Already strong in cooperation:

The CEEPUS network builds on a long-standing network of bioethicists in Central Europe.

1) The past: developing common grounds

In a first period of the CEEPUS network cooperation, members of the network defined shared fields of research and teaching which provide the basis for offering joint partial curricula (thematic clusters) or optional additional courses. Students were invited to bioethical congresses to intensify exchange on their research topics and to provide international contacts to researchers. Also regional conferences and contacts between some members of the network allowed to present special fields of bioethics which are not being offered or only scratched during regular teaching programs, as well as new methodologies, e.g. special aspects of gender questions in bioethics, comparative or interdisciplinary approaches, practical experiences, and interdisciplinary approaches. In cooperation with the BCE network, some members were able to participate in intensive courses for academic teachers of bioethics (the first was held in September 2012) that intended to provide grounds for mutual understanding with respect to specifically connoted ethical concepts which can provide a shared basis e.g. in the case of joint supervisions of Ph.D. theses in the field, and to help harmonise the teaching in bioethics. We hope to offer a similar course in the near future.

2) The present: Building on established relationships
The core members of the CEEPUS network have been interested in cooperating at the European level for a long time. They are members of the "Association of Bioethicists in Central Europe" (BCE) that teach bioethical subjects at theological, medical and philosophical faculties. Since 2007, BCE formally established in 2009, holds annual conferences at Vienna (2007, 2008, 2013, 2015) and at other participating universities (Kosice 2009, Opole 2010, Pécs 2011, Zagreb 2012, Ljubljana 2014, Prague is planned for 2016). In addition, regional workshops and conferences and special courses are being held in cooperation with local partners (Spišská Kapitula 2009, Pecs 2009, 2014, Olsztyn 2012, Lilienfeld 2012, Opole 2015). These activities offer the unique chance to promote bioethical issues that are of special regional relevance, to discuss them on an international level and to stimulate new research.

3) The future: Inviting new partners into the network
Past year's application brought new partners into the network: The Faculty at Olomouc, Belgrade, Sarajevo and an additional branch at Zagreb. This year's application has broadened the range of disciplines by integrating «VASILE GOLDIS» WESTERN UNIVERSITY OF ARAD (Medicine, Biology) and College Danubius (Social Science, Political Science, Applied Ethics). We have also included Trnava, in order to allow for more cross-frontier cooperation in the region and to strengthen regional clusters. In the South, we want to give some time to get settled in the network to our recent partners (Belgrade, Sarajevo, Teacher Education Faculty in Zagreb - in the network since last year) before reaching out for new countries, but we hope to expand further in the South in a following round. We have already entered into contact with the Islamic Faculty of Sarajevo and hope that in the near future it can become a member of the network.