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Globethics.net Newsletter n°5 - December 2006

Look out for exciting developments at Globethics.net!


Since last summer, significant changes have taken place and are heralding a new phase in the network's life. Looking back, 2006 has really been a rich, exciting, but also challenging year for Globethics.net. The major events and projects are recalled in this issue.

1.
Two new staff have joined the workforce
2.
Globethics.net to specialise in interfaith dialogue on applied ethics
3.
Globethics.net to launch global digital library on applied ethics
4.
2006: A rich year for Globethics.net

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Two new staff have joined the workforce

After Globethics.net’s Executive Coordinator Jean-Daniel Strub decided to leave the Geneva secretariat to concentrate on his PhD dissertation,
Ariane Hentsch Cisneros from Switzerland was hired in September to fill in the position. Trained in international relations and theology, Ariane has been working in the field of interfaith relations and dialogue in Geneva and abroad. She is eager to put her knowledge and experience at the service of the global ethics community. She explains below how interfaith dialogue may be the harbinger of a new, fundamental approach to applied ethics.

Atanu Garai, a consultant from India, is our new temporary Networking Specialist. Atanu is a trained librarian specialising in digital networking and has initiated a fantastic project which he will describe below.

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Globethics.net to specialise in interfaith dialogue on applied ethics

At Globethics.net’s last Board meeting in Huissen, Netherlands, Globethics.net Board members discussed the necessity to streamline the network’s profile in view of the limited resources and the great range of issues in the field of applied ethics. After much discussion it was decided to keep addressing the variety of issues. But rather than trying to address them all in details, the idea is to focus on the perspectives from which these issues are approached. Among many, the religious perspective seems to have gained much attention in the international arena in recent years. Board members think it is important that researchers and professionals in applied ethics develop interest in how individuals and institutions with different religious backgrounds convey and share knowledge and values when addressing issues in this field.

‘When we engage in conversations and debates about defining or identifying global ethics, says Ariane Hentsch Cisneros, references to our own values and convictions about cosmic laws and ulterior motives inevitably come into play. These may be embedded in secular thought systems such as philosophies or political ideologies, to name the more obvious. But for the great majority in our ever more globalised world, fundamental values are yet produced by their religious and/or cultural traditions.

How are we to create a meaningful dialogue when we speak different languages? How can we ensure that all partners in the conversation stay on an equal foot? Global debates on ethics so far have been largely dominated by Northern players assuming (unknowingly?) that rational thinking is the sole medium for a balanced intercourse. But can we dismiss millenia-old oral traditions without a second thought? Can we negate the power of myth in the transmission of values and understanding? How are we to fathom the depth of a master-disciple relationship from a Westerner point of view? How are we to balance theory and practice in transmitting values? Partners looking for a truly meaningful exchange about global ethics cannot avoid finding a satisfactory answer to these questions.

This is why it is so important that as a global network of researchers in and professional of applied ethics, Globethics.net do not overlook this reflection and take it up seriously.’

Globethics.net’s future strategy related to this matter will be discussed at the next Board meeting in Geneva, on next 9-11 February. Stay tuned!'

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Globethics.net to launch global digital library on applied ethics

Atanu Garai, Globethics.net Networking Specialist, has been working full-time since last November on the development of an ambitious online project.

'As part of the objective of facilitating knowledge sharing for the global ethics community, Atanu Garai says, Globethics.net started working towards building a digital library on applied ethics in late 2006. In early 2007, a concrete plan for the digital library will be developed and the Globethics.net stakeholders, including the participating institutions and researchers will have the opportunity to share their expectations and ideas on the project.

The library - actually more of a database - will not only allow registered participants to browse and search for articles, journals and book titles, both in soft and hard copy (audio and video files may be added in the future), but also people and institutions involved in applied ethics to share information about events, research projects and publications. An interesting feature of this digital library is indeed its participatory profile: all of Globethics.net participants will be able to share their own work with the global community of researchers and professionals in their field. Of course open access will be ensured for the totality of the references. This policy keeps in line with the desire of Globethics.net stakeholders to make more space for researchers, particularly the young and those based in the Southern hemisphere.

The development work for this global digital library on ethics is quite challenging. Online knowledge resources on ethics are available in multitude, and span across a wide range of academic disciplines and languages. Providing a structured access to these vast, yet scattered resources for the Globethics.net members is our priority and in so doing, we are anticipating your active involvement in the development of this project.'

Partnerships leading to knowledge harvesting for the coming digital library are indeed particularly welcome, and Globethics.net is encouraging you to send us proposals. To obtain more information and discuss about partnership opportunities, you can write to
Atanu Garai.

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2006: A rich year for Globethics.net

To conclude, Globethics.net's Executive Assistant
Evelyn Appiah recalls 2006's major events for Globethics.net before we leave the old year and look ahead for the new.

‘The year 2006 has gone very fast and I would like to take the opportunity to thank wholeheartedly Globethics.net’s members and staff for their involvement in diverse ways in the activities of Globethics.net. This past year has been a time of gradual enlargement of Globethics.net as the number of institutions and individuals who joined our ‘action and reflection’ network reached 256 and 63 respectively. We are also grateful to our financial partners for their support and to the Globethics.net Board members and Assembly under the leadership of our Chairperson
Prof. Christoph Stueckelberger, who helped the staff team to work in key areas of Globethics.net’s activities.

On the occasion of the annual meeting of the Board, Globethics.net held a regional workshop on The Use of (Holy) Scriptures in Conflict Resolution in Beirut, Lebanon (10-12 March), in close cooperation with our Lebanese partner institution,
The Forum for Development, Culture, and Dialogue, an NGO specialised and experienced in conflict resolution and in dialogue-related matters. The Forum is also the host institution of the Arab Group for Muslim-Christian Dialogue. The workshop was held at the Near East School of Theology and brought together 40 participants. Click here to download the report.*

The Globethics.net 2006 international conference on the theme Fundamentalism and Ethics was held in last August in Huissen, Netherlands (27-31 August). The conference was organised along with
Stichting Oikos, a member organisation of Oikosnet. The conference was held at the Dominican Activity Centre located in the Dominican Monastery in Huissen. Over 40 participants attended the conference including scholars, religious leaders, and representatives of international organisations and NGOs. Six of them were members of the international Globethics.net board. Click here to download the report.*

Last but not least, a joint publication by Globethics.net and the
World Council of Churches is now reaching its concluding stage. It will cover most of the papers delivered at Globethics.net's 2004 and 2005 international conferences held in Bossey, near Geneva, Switzerland, and Bangkok, Thailand. We expect the volume to be published in early 2007.'

* You need Adobe Reader to read this document. To download it, click on the icon on the left column.