Bioethics and Consciousness: an interdisciplinary and interreligious reflection on an essential dimension of the human person (online)

From 2 July 2021 to 10 July 2021

Course presentation

The 19th Summer Bioethics Course will take place 15:30-18:30 on July 2-3 and on 9-10, 2021. Simultaneous translation will be available into English, Italian, and Spanish. The title of the course is “Bioethics and Consciousness: an interdisciplinary and interreligious reflection on an essential dimension of the human person.”

The course is organized by the Faculty of Bioethics in collaboration with the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights established at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum and the European University of Rome.


The course is organized by the Neurobioethics research group, in particular by the subgroup on consciousness, with the participation of all other subgroups and researchers of the group. The theme of consciousness is at the center of contemporary bioethics debates. At the beginning stages of human life, the absence of self-consciousness is invoked to justify depriving the human organism of the status of personhood. At the final stages of human life, it is argued that an apparently irreversible loss of the manifestations of human self-consciousness can justify the harvesting of organs as a “donation” from subjects in gravely compromised states of altered consciousness. Moreover, two tensions are widespread in neuroscientific, philosophical and social contexts. On the one hand, there are attempts at reductionism, whether in the merely neurobiological sense or in a functionalist sense. On the other hand, there have emerged many substitutionary approaches that seek to identify personal self-consciousness with mere digitizable information. Therefore, correct information and formation regarding consciousness is important.

This international summer course in bioethics proposes an interdisciplinary and interreligious study of human consciousness with the aim of understanding the plurality of meanings corresponding to the multi-layered complexity of personal dimensions of which it is composed. The course will offer its participants the chance to acquire the knowledge regarding the following areas: the state of the art of the so-called “science of consciousness” ranging from neuroscience to artificial intelligence and including quantum physics; the medical-clinical and psychiatric-psychological context; the philosophy and anthropology of consciousness; the artistic-aesthetic and theological-spiritual dimension. In this final context, special emphasis will be given to interreligious dialogue about the theme. Finally, the course will give its participants the competencies necessary to discern critically the varied contemporary contexts in which consciousness is invoked in order to evaluate critically clinical protocols, proposed laws, sanitary applications, and the political, economic and social implications of the theme.


Coordinators of the course:

Prof. Alberto Carrara: [email protected]

Prof. Alberto García: [email protected]


Structure of the course

The course is structured in lectures, Q&A sessions, seminars, film discussions, and interactive group activities. Professors of the School of Bioethics and other experts will participate as speakers and moderators of group dynamics.

Day Schedule Topic Speaker

July 2

15:30-15:45 Welcoming and Introduction to the Summer Webinar: Consciousness and Interdisciplinarity G. Miranda A. García, A. Carrara
15:45-16:30 Neurophysiology of consciousness Amir Raz


16:30-17:00 Neuropathology of consciousness and disability Matilde Leonardi


17:30-18:00 Experimental investigations on consciousness Martin Monti


18:00-18:30 Consciousness in the Aesthetic Vision

Seminar:  Introduction to psychology and consciousness in music

Concert for pianoforte and soprano: The consciousness concert

Melissa Maioni

Luisa Zecchinelli

Lia Lanteri


July 3

15:30-16:00 Consciousness in Psychiatry and DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) Benedetto Farina


16:00-16:30 The default mode network and altered consciousness in psychiatric patients Claudio Imperatori


16:30-17:00 Psychology of states of consciousness. Form perceptive consciousness to self-awareness Michela Balconi
17:30-18:00 Workshop: The Neurophysiological Modified states of Consciousness: clinical hypnosis and meditative states in psychological therapies Paola Brugnoli

Katalin Varga


July 9

15:30-16:00 Multidimensional stratification of consciousness Alberto Carrara


16:00-16:30 Self-consciousness Giorgia Salatiello


16:30-17:00 Consciousness: Cartesian and Lockean perspectives Adrián Canal


17:30-18:00 Is consciousness a product of the brain or/and a divine act of God?


Alex Yeung

Daniela Del Gaudio

18:00-18:30 Anthropology of Consciousness, Awareness and Conscience. Metaphysics of Consciousness. Consciousness and Self-Knowledge. Michael Baggot

July 10

15:30-16:00 Clinical ethics and consciousness: Interaction physician-patient in challenged consciousness states. Conscientious care for the unconscious patient Francisco Ballesta


16:00-16:30 Research ethics and consciousness Francisco Ballesta


16:30-17:00 Legal responsibility and consciousness in healthcare: right and wrong in decision-making and action. Informed consent in patients in residual consciousness situation and in healthy patients/subject of experimentation Marta Albert
17:30-18:00 End of life dilemmas in residual cognitive function in comatose, vegetative and minimally conscious states. Gonzalo Miranda


18:00-18:30 Should we translate human consciousness into machine consciousness if possible. What is consciousness and could machines have it?

Consciousness in the Aesthetic Vision

Alberto Carrara


Melissa Maioni

Useful Information

Admission and Inscription

The admission process follows the general norms foreseen for the Faculty. In particular, the course requires possession of at least a high school degree.

Admission period: From January 7 until July 9, 2021.

Number of course participants: 10 – 60.

Academic fees

Payment can be made in the following ways:

· At the bursar’s booth in the Athenaeum at the beginning of the course.

· By a wire transfer. In your payment, please specify your full name, and make it payable to “Corso Estivo Bioetica 2021”


Standard fee One week 350 €
Both weeks 600 €
Special fee:
Priests, religious, students in bioethics, students of ISSR, alumni of APRA, doctoral students in bioethics. Groups of 6 or more*.
One week 275 €
Both weeks 450 €

*Group registration is to be done by the person in charge of the group. The one in charge should:

1. Submit a presentation letter for the group to the general secretary of the Ateneo, containing the names of all the members and the required documentation (registration form, ID, etc.) for each member.

2. Pay the all the members’ fees at one time.

Grazie alla Family Farrel Foundation.

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