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#BuildingNewBridgesTogether: Strengthening Ethics in Higher Education after COVID-19

The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted traditional educational systems, and exposed the existing disparities and complexities. The international conference, ‘Building New Bridges Together: Strengthening Ethics in Higher Education after COVID19' aimed to foster dialogue and deepen understanding around potential solutions. The transition from classical teaching to online learning has posed many questions regarding access to education and educational resources. In the transition to online tools, the need to strengthen technological literacy became more apparent to close the digital gap. Beyond higher education, the role of online learning was also discussed in facilitating professional development and adaptability in the labour market. Ethics plays a major role in navigating the pandemic and beyond, and the need to develop a shared language and common understanding has never been more pertinent. 

A week ahead of the conference, working groups engaged in activities focusing on 4 thematic tracks to feed into the conference. Track 1: Creating New Societal Visions in Higher Education: Values for Living Together, focused on identifying best practices and to forge new alliances between higher education and societal actors. Track 2: Bridging the Gaps: Ethical Foundations of Online Teaching and Learning Pedagogies, drew attention back to values, such as inclusivity, equity, sharing, integrity and transparency throughout the learning experience, with reflections on digital literacy and how to close the digital gap. Track 3: Online Education for a Sustainable Future: Quality and Ethical Standards in Higher Education deepened the understanding on how ethics and quality standards contribute to and accompany the transition from offline to online learning, on how to equip students, teachers and institutions for a sustainable future. Finally, Track 4: Ethics and Skills for a Responsible Global Citizenship focused on cooperation among higher education institutions, public and private partnerships, to both challenge and strengthen the higher education sector, bringing it to a new level of quality with values-driven standards, which will ultimately lead to the formation of responsible global citizens. 

The conference on 25th June 2020 was entirely virtual, and bought together a range of experts, with over 1500 participants representing 87 countries. This was at the heart of the conference, gathering actors for #BuildingNewBridgesTogether. Founder and President of, Christoph Stückelberger emphasised our need to come together to defeat the common enemy we all currently face, the COVID19 virus. He noted that we must ‘support and empower a life in dignity'. Dignity was identified as one of the central themes throughout the conference. Dr Roche noted that the foundations for online teaching were grounded in human dignity, characterised by autonomy and interdependence. She also reiterated the need for both teaching and learning to be person centred and orientated towards the common good. To build the bridge of interconnectivity between actors, three main pillars were identified, namely: ethics and values, transparency and credibility and bonds of trust. 


You can catch up and view the recorded sessions by clicking below:


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