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Globethics.net Newsletter n°9 – July 2008


Special focus on new library content

In this issue


1. The Globethics.net Library
New journals and quality improvement in the library

2. The Globethics.net Network
Join a work community on the Globethics.net network

3. News from the International Secretariat
Globethics.net’s new partnership with CBERN

4. News from Participants
Religion, Civil Society and Conflict in Indonesia
Gross Domestic Product or Gross National Happiness?



Globethics.net will launch a completely new website in August 2009. Apart from a new design the website will have a lot of new functionalities especially for the library such as much easier search functions and special collections. Find out more in our next Newsletter! In this Newsletter you find information especially about new journals in our digital ethics library.



1. The Globethics.net Library

1.1 New journals and quality improvement in the library

In its effort to provide users of the Globethics.net Library with access to more journals with a core focus on applied ethics, we have subscribed to an additional number of commercial journals that previously were not available in our library. The subscriptions to these journals are being paid for by Globethics.net and we then obtain the licensing rights to make these journal available for free to our registered participants. In order to have access to these journals you must register and login.

We have also succeeded in successfully integrating a number of open access journals in the field of applied ethics in our library. We are therefore both glad and proud to announce that full-text versions of the following commercial and open access journals can now be accessed for the first time in the Globethics.net Library.

Acta Bioethica
African Journal of Business Ethics
Les ateliers de l’éthique
BMC International Health and Human Rights
Business and Society
CIMEL. Ciencia e Investigación Médica Estudiantil Latinoamericana
Conflict and health
Genomics, Society and Policy
Globalization and health
Health Research Policy and Systems
International Journal for Equity in Health
International Journal of Cross Cultural Management
International Review of Mission
Islam & Science
Issues in Law & Medicine
Journal of Human Values
Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies
Journal of Markets & Morality
Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies
Journal of research practice
Korean Journal of Medical History
Mens Sana Monographs
New Internationalist
Nursing Ethics
Revista Observaciones Filosóficas
Social Theory and Practice
Studia Philosophica Estonica
Studies in Christian Ethics

We are negotiating with a number of content providers to gain access to further journals and publications that have a core focus on applied ethics. Further announcements on new content acquisition can be expected in the near future.
In our attempt to ensure that our library users do not get frustrated when their search results include documents that cannot be accessed as full-text documents, we have removed a number of journals and documents that do not provide access to full-text documents. As a result we have now considerably fewer documents in our library, but the quality of our library collection has been enhanced substantially. Library users are much more likely than before to find full-text versions of documents when searching in the library. We are convinced that this improvement will lower frustration and improve the satisfaction of our users.


2. The Globethics.net Network

2.1 Join a work community on the Globethics.net network

As you register to the Globethics.net website, one of your major benefits is to access, create, or even moderate online workgroups. A workgroup is an online community of practice where registered Globethics.net participants engage in collective reflection, research, or even publication on subjects relevant to the Globethics.net network.

As a general rule, Globethics.net staff or registered participants will initiate workgroups. But we are also keen on welcoming workgroups initiated by other individuals or organizations for their own purposes, on the conditions that they do not contradict the general Globethics.net values of mutual respect and responsibility. In addition, all workgroup participants including the moderator(s) need to register to the Globethics.net website in order to have access to all tools. Moderators of workgroups decide whether workgroups are open to anyone, semi-open (to specific target groups), or restricted to a group specifically invited by the moderator.
Workgroup objectives can include conducting research, reviewing literature, sharing views, discussing issues of interest, preparing a conference, putting together a publication, holding online seminars, etc.

Past and present workgroups include:

Climate Justice
The meeting of the Conference of Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 15) to take place in Copenhagen in December 2009 will be a crucial moment to decide on the global framework to address climate change challenges. Deepening the implications of climate justice would be a relevant contribution to the process. The goals of the workgroup are to collect documents related to climate change and justice; to share studies, reflections on the ethical implications of climate justice; to prepare a report on the ethical aspects of climate justice, which will be shared with institutions, movements who are working on climate change and justice issues, as well as with the UNFCCC Secretariat as a contribution to the process towards COP 15 in Copenhagen (December 2009). It will also be linked to the “Climate Justice Principles” of the Global Humanitarian Forum Geneva, which have been elaborated in cooperation with Globethics.net.

Gender and Ethics
This workgroup was initiated in 2005 by Rev. Dr Evangeline Anderson-Rajkumar from India, who led a discussion on ‘engendering ethics’. The group addressed the following issues: the understanding of gender issues in different contexts; the ordination of women; the linkages between gender, sex, and sexuality; the construction of masculinity and femininity; feminist hermeneutics; violence against women; voting rights for women. The online discussion resulted in a three-day consultation on ‘Engendering Ethics: Re-negotiating the Values, Rights and Agency of a Woman’s Body’, which gathered over 30 participants from India and other parts of in the world in Bangalore, South India.

Care and Compassion. Methods for Sharing Values Across Cultures and Religions
A series of 5 workgroups were launched in preparation of the 2009 Globethics.net international Conference in Nairobi on ‘Care and Compassion. Sharing Values across Cultures and Religions’. The topics were: Defining Global Ethics; Ensuring a Successful Interreligious Dialogue on Ethics; Integrating Different Means and Methods of Sharing Values in a Human-to-Human Approach; Balancing Power Relations, Inducing a Real Transformation; Sharing Values in the Kenyan & East African Contexts. Under the guidance of moderators, groups engaged in a preliminary exchange of ideas. Although participants at the conference emphasized the importance of face-to-face meetings , it is undeniable that progress, albeit minute, was made online that facilitated the face-to-face exchange at the conference itself. See the Conference Report.

HIV-AIDS Theology
The idea for an ecumenical theological network on HIV prevention emerged from discussions held at the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA) consultation on HIV prevention, held in Johannesburg in January-February 2008. The workgroup was launched to: provide a space for open discussion among Christian theologians and others who are working on theological, ethical or related questions, where these questions are impacted by HIV and AIDS; facilitate international research and writing on theological and ethical matters relating to HIV and AIDS through the provision of electronic space for individuals to come together around particular issues; serve as a theological resource base for groups such as EAA, WCC, UNAIDS and other organizations; be a network and reference-resource group for internal discussions on issues related to HIV within faith communities; and to be available to respond to questions and invitations (for example on topic-areas listed above), which are occasionally received by EAA from faith-based and other organizations.

The expected outcome of group work is to: build up a resource library accessible to all members with links to existing resource banks and with particular emphasis on the importance of information from the global South; facilitate dialogue between theologians working on similar issues; encourage open discussion among members about issues of current interest or related to their own work; and to encourage publication of work by members.

To launch a new workgroup, please read the instructions and send a proposal to Globethics.net Executive Director, Christoph Stueckelberger.


3. News from the International Secretariat 

3.1 Globethics.net’s new partnership with CBERN

Globethics.net entered into a partnership agreement with the Canadian Business Ethics Research Network (CBERN). The two parties agreed to give exposure to each others respective websites and to promote each others' activities.

The Canadian Business Ethics Research Network (CBERN) mobilizes and profiles Canada’s rich pool of business ethics expertise. CBERN creates opportunities for sharing and engaging in business ethics research across academic disciplines and faculties and draws university researchers into dialogue with leaders and researchers in business, government and the voluntary sector.
CBERN strives to raise the visibility of business ethics research and leadership by:

• Building research capacity;
• Coordinating research initiatives;
• Encouraging ethical business practices;
• Highlighting the importance of linking economic development and societal well-being; and
• Engaging the public in the discussion and evaluation of the issues and findings at the centre of the network’s activities

Find out more: www.businessethicscanada.ca


4. News from participants

4.1 Religion, Civil Society and Conflict in Indonesia

Prof. Muhammad Machasin, member of the Globethics.net Board of Foundation is co-editor of a recently published book on the relation between religion and conflict in the context of civil society in Indonesia.

Carl Sterkens, Muhammad Machasin, Frans Wijsen (Eds.)
Religion, Civil Society and Conflict in Indonesia

Ever since extremists started legitimizing violence religiously, conflict has been a vital theme for scholars of religion. Indonesia offers an interesting case in this regard. On the one hand Indonesia has a long tradition of peaceful co-existence under the umbrella of the Pancasila ideology. On the other hand there have been bloody conflicts about religious convictions, and conflicts in which religious convictions were exploited for economic or political gains. In this volume authors of various disciplines, explore the relation between religion and conflict in the context of civil society in Indonesia.

Dr. Carl Sterkens is Assistant Professor of Empirical Study of Religion, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

Dr. Muhammad Machasin is professor of History of Islamic Cultures, Faculty of Letters, Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia and member of the Board of Foundation of Globethics.net.

Dr. Frans Wijsen is Professor of Interreligious Relations at Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

Follow the link to find out more:

4.2 Gross Domestic Product or Gross National Happiness?

Article by Globethics.net participant John M. Itty

Philosophers and religious teachers have been calling for a way of life that contributes to the happiness of all. But this got torpedoed by the hijacking of everything by the economy with the promise that it is the way for maximizing satisfaction. We are advised to leave everything –the economy, culture, society, ideology to the omnipotence of the market. Mainstream economists teach that self interest, un-regulated (cut throat) competition and greed for accumulation constitute the golden path for maximization of satisfaction. They introduced GDP as the index for measuring the well being of the people.

But, during the past 300 years since the dependence on market mechanism, around 100 financial crises occurred, which only destroyed the well being of all. All these years it has been proven repeatedly that growth of GDP cannot contribute to the wellbeing of the people. Therefore, UNDP introduced Human Development Index (HDI) which is a composite index that includes per capita income and health and education status as an alternative index to measure the well being of the people. But, nations are not using HDI as a target in their plans. HDI is being used by civil society groups for post-mortem analysis.

In the midst of this gloomy scenario, Bhutan, a small kingdom in the Himalayas with only around 7 lakh (700'000) people has taken a heroic decision in its national policy. The goal of Bhutan is not higher GDP, but Gross National Happiness (GNH). Under the new constitution, all government programmes are judged not by the economic benefits they offer, but by the happiness they produce. People are asked to define happiness by themselves, and the government creates conditions for the pursuit of GNH. Although the measurement of well being with the yard stick of GDP upheld by IMF and World Bank has proven to be a flop, these institutions laugh at the Bhutanese leaders by asking them how they measure GNH.

As the Bhutanese are serious about this, they produced an intricate model of well being with four pillars, nine domains and 72 indicators of happiness. The four pillars of a happy society involve the economy, culture, the environment and good governance. Everywhere else happiness is sought by ignoring the last three. The planners break these pillars into nine domains: psychological well being, ecology, health, education, culture, living standards, time use, community vitality, and good governance, each with its own weighted and un-weighted GNH index. All these domains are to be analysed with the use of 72 indicators. Under the domain of psychological well being, for example, indicators include frequencies of prayer and meditation, feeling of selfishness, jealousy, calm, compassion, generosity and frustration as well as suicidal thoughts.

This approach to the well being of the people is definitely the best alternative to capitalism. It is based on Buddhist ethos that questions the pillars of capitalism –spirit of accumulation, conspicuous consumption, profit motive and neglect of everything other than economic activity. It is based on Buddhist doctrines of right livelihood and denouncing desire. This also resembles the Gandhian approach. The basic difference between this and the capitalist model of development is the difference in the approach to materialism. While capitalism that seeks well being through material accumulation alone contributes to the ill being of the people, non-materialistic approach is the key to well being and happiness. So, what is needed is a non-materialistic paradigm of development. Once we are prepared to accept this fact, how to prepare indices for that, is secondary. The experiment in Bhutan is a humble beginning to this.

(This writer is indebted to the write up by Seth Mydans in the New York Times).

Globethics.net participant John M. Itty is fellow at Vichara School of People’s Economics, Mavelikara, Kerala, India. Email: jmitty@rediffmail.com