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 beginning at 15:30

Course presentation

The 19th Summer Bioethics Course will take place at 15:30-18:30 on July 2-3 and 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]

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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. A full schedule of the course can be downloaded here.

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Useful Information

  • The objectives of the course are especially important for doctors and health personnel; biologists, psychologists, psychiatrists and psychotherapists; educators and trainers, especially secondary and high school teachers; priests, catechists and other agents of pastoral care; lawyers and jurists, informants, journalists, communicators and sociologists and all those who are interested in the cultural and social dynamics of the present day and wish to have an informed and critical criterion on the cutting edge of biotechnology, ethics and social issues.
  • Topics are covered by faculty of the Faculty of Bioethics and external experts from different countries.
  • All participants in the full webinar will receive a certificate of attendance.
  • Attendance is mandatory for 80% to be eligible for a certificate of attendance (upon request).
  • The webinar is worth 1 ECTS credit.
  • Simultaneous translation is available in Italian and English.
  • For other language groups, simultaneous translation will be offered if the number of students is greater than 10.


Admission and Inscription

Register here: Admission form

Academic fees

The payment is made once the student has registered and according to the instructions that will be provided by e-mail. Payment can be made by credit card, bank transfer or at the Athenaeum desk by appointment.

Standard fee Two sessions of the webinar (2 days) 110 €
Four sessions of the webinar (4 days) 210 €
Four sessions of the webinar (4 days) + 1 (ECTS) with an exam 215 €
Special fee:
Priests, religious, students in bioethics, students of ISSR, alumni of APRA, doctoral students in bioethics.
Two sessions of the webinar (2 days) 90 €
Four sessions of the webinar (4 days) 170 €
Four sessions of the webinar (4 days) + 1 (ECTS) with an exam 175 €
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