During the Covid-19 pandemic, we have observed an increasing interest, within the public discourse, on many ethically relevant issues, such as the allocation of health care resources in emergency contexts, the substantial limitation of personal rights for the collective well-being, the allocation of vaccines, the communication of medical and scientific information to the lay public, and disagreement among experts. While, on the one hand, the emergence of these issues has underlined the need for bioethical reflection in our society, along with the conceptual tools to address complex ethical issues, on the other hand, this phenomenon has highlighted how difficult it is for bioethicists to effectively contribute to collective decisions.

People struggle to conceive bioethics as a practical discipline and to understand its real usefulness. Nowadays, bioethics remains mainly an academic subject confined to theoretical reflection. However, this seems to be in contrast with the very meaning of bioethics which, since its foundation, has aimed to provide practical tools for personal and collective decisions related to the challenges of medicine and scientific progress. In the light of this scenario, there is a need to think about bioethics and its (putative) role in nowadays society.

The Research Center for Clinical Ethics (CREC) of the University of Insubria, would like to invite to participate in a fall school to deal with the aforementioned questions.

More specifically, the school is structured as follows. After an introductory class on the role that bioethical reflection should theoretically play in society, we will offer classes to address what bioethics currently is and the relationship between bioethics and other disciplines such as medicine, law, and politics. These analyses are important for understanding the role and spaces that bioethical reflections – should – have in practical contexts such as clinical practice, ethics committees, and policy-making.

Second, we will address the role of bioethics and the influence of bioethical reflection across different countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Italy. By doing so, participants will be able to appreciate similarities and differences among different countries, to grasp how bioethics should deal with the pluralism of values in contemporary societies, and the relationship between bioethics and public and private institutions.

Finally, we will propose a final reflection on the future perspectives of the relationship between society and bioethics, trying to identify the necessary steps to enhance the practical role of ethical and bioethical reflection. Aside from keynote lectures (two per day), we will propose group activities and discussion of the participants’ papers.