UNESCO Chair in Bioethics


  • Bioethics and Law Observatory
  • UNESCO Chair in Bioethics
  • University of Barcelona
  • Faculty of Law
  • Ave. Diagonal, 684
  • 08034 Barcelona
  • (+34) 93 403 45 46
  • obd.ub@ub.edu
  • Master in Bioethics and Law
  • (+34) 93 403 45 46
  • master.bd@ub.edu


ALFA: Research network for establishing Programmes for Joint Teaching of Bioethics


  • To provide specific materials to include the subject of Bioethics in teaching plans.
  • To encourage and promote professional enrichment through cooperation in different fields (specialists in Law, Philosophy, Social Anthropology), establishing a multi-purpose trans-national research team given the need for an approach which spans the fields of law, economics, sociology, technology and science.
  • To contribute useful features for cooperation in managing institutions, particularly regarding the development of study plans and academic management.


Article 28 in Chapter X of the Convention for the protection of Human rights and dignity of the Human Being with regard to the application of Biology and Medicine establishes that Parties to this Convention shall see to it that the fundamental questions raised by the developments of biology and medicine are the subject of appropriate public discussion in the light, in particular, of relevant medical, social, economic, ethical and legal implications, and that their possible application is made the subject of appropriate consultation, and thus public debate is seen as an indispensable feature to exercising Democracy. Thus, specialised training of professionals from different fields of academics and universities becomes indispensable, and democratic and socially committed institutions must assume this role and so provide up-to-date educational curricula linked to real social situations.

Who's who

The Research Network for the Joint Teaching of Bioethics is formed by:

Person in charge of the project

  • Dr. María Casado González
    Head of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics at the University of Barcelona
    Director of the Observatory of Bioethics and Law

Institutions members of the Network

In the European Union

  • University of Barcelona (coordination) - SPAIN
  • University Nova in Lisbon - PORTUGAL
  • Vrije Universiteit Brussel - BELGIUM

In Latin America

  • Universidad Nacional de Buenos Aires - ARGENTINA
  • Universidad de Chile - CHILE
  • Pontificia Universidade de Porto Alegre - BRAZIL
  • Universidad de Panamá - PANAMA
  • Universidad de Cuyo - ARGENTINA


The project aims to develop a common programme to include the subject of Bioethics in study plans of the universities taking part.

A complete introductory style programme was established and two specific ones on the biotechnological and biomedical aspects to thus be subsequently studied.

To achieve this, once the actual state of the issue of discipline was established in each participating university, the necessary materials were created and the bibliography was chosen for the programme offered.

At the same time the project aimed to achieve a social impact and consequences related to ethics by training specialists in the field of applied Bioethics. This general aim had several aspects:

  • In the first stage we attempted to identify the real problems caused by the lack of specific training in Bioethics in general educational courses in the participating countries.
  • In the second stage of the project we proposed offering an academic offer which would provide ways to solve the problems detected.
  • When there is a situation of weakness in the academic courses provided regarding issues of biotechnology and bioethics, a responsible society must take steps so that their contents are compatible with the different existing concepts and moral and legal traditions, since our community is, by definition plural and democratic.
  • The aims offered could be achieved through interdisciplinary work, assessing the problems and discussing the different viewpoints regarding the ethical, social, political and legal aspects.

Results achieved

  • Decision to promote academic innovation by developing subjects in common (main or elective) to offer in the curriculum of the universities participating in the programme.
  • Publishing studies and/or results of work meetings, from which will emerge the programmes and bibliography of the subjects that may be adopted by other universities outside this programme and the assessment criteria, etc.
  • Miscellaneous teaching materials (questionnaires, works plans, slides, etc.).
  • Creating a common archive of documents on the issues of Bioethics.
  • Preparing, designing and publishing web pages for electronic transmission of debates and documents which are of importance for managing institutions and universities.

Activities carried out

First year

  • First general working session:
    Temporarily outlining the possible specialisations on offer
    Specifying methodological tools
  • Distributing provisional documents
    Discussions on the subjects and material

Second year

  • Second general working session:
    Choosing the bibliographies
  • Distributing provisional documents
    Discussions about the subjects and material
  • Third general working session:
    Choosing the final programme and bibliography
  • Discussions on the aforementioned joint materials
  • Establishing criteria for general assessment
    24th Month: Handing in the final document

Meetings held

  • Barcelona
  • Buenos Aires
  • Santiago de Chile


Specific elective subjects

PhD’s and Masters


Teaching material

  • CASADO, M. y BUXÓ, M.J. (coord.). Riesgo y precaución. Ed. Residència d’Investigadors CSIC - Generalitat de Catalunya. Barcelona, 2005