The Global Ethics Forum 2016: What's next?
On 25 June, the third and last day of the Global Ethics Forum 2016, an overview was presented of all the topics discussed in the 12 Labs (workshops) over the first two days of intense brain storming and exchange that will lead to new projects on ethics.
(On the right hand side, you can see a slideshow of pictures taken during the event)
Among the questions raised were how motivated are teachers to adopt best practices and adapt to changes, to adjust their teaching skills and deliver creative courses meant to inspire students. At the same time, how much encouragement and support do students receive to develop their personal qualities and competencies, to express their natural talents and get involved in sectors where they can excel?
There was seen to be a persistent Procrustean approach in the education system, one in which students either fit in or they are excluded. This approach affects students in many countries and results in the formation of unhappy professionals with little motivation. Teachers are also affected by a complexity of aspects that prevent them from delivering inspiring courses, including: levels of access to knowledge and information sources, school curricula that has been designed too long ago and that still needs to be updated and adapted to changing needs, standardized educational systems that are not doing any favours either to students or to teachers and financial constraints affecting both students and teachers. The title of the keynote speeches made on the first day, Teaching the right things in the right ways, speaks for itself.
Several speakers and participants expressed their opinions on topics debated throughout the 12 Labs.
Dr Thomas Kesselring underlined the distinction between ethics and values, saying that "efficiency and utility are values, but they are not ethical values; it is important to make concepts clear". He also questioned the meaning of the word ethics when it comes to IF (impact factor) and the number of times that an academic author's work is cited, or rather mutually cited as an exchange of "favours" among authors, which he views as a "serious ethical issue".
Dr Arnold Smit stated that "learning experience should be brought back through reaching out to stakeholders".
Prof. Dr Florencia Luna expressed her concern about academic and scientific publications that are under the "publish or perish" regime, and the importance of "writing and publishing good material" and not just publishing for the sake of moving up the ladder of academic authorship. She also denounced the fact that publishing in Open Access spaces can be very expensive in some countries, totally disproportionate and unaffordable for teachers who are starting out and who as a result remain unknown. It is a Catch 22 situation: they need to publish to contribute research and prove their value, but they are not published because they are not known; they have to pay high fees to be published, but they do not have the financial possibilities to do so. At the same time, she was confident that students themselves can generate change.
The need for creativity and personal contributions to education was emphasised by Dr Ignace Haaz "epigonism is the capacity of scholars to repeat; we've only repeated and reproduced for centuries" with the risk of getting stuck in a place and state of mind that is no longer creative.
A major issue was handled in Lab 12, Anti-Corruption Policies, and the difficulty of breaching the gap between theory and practice was discussed at length. Corruption, as Obiora Ike described it, is something that one can find everywhere, in every country, at any level.
The Forum on Higher Education Ethics in Action, addressed in 12 Labs and four plenary sessions provided the occasion for around 120 participants to meet and discuss during two and a half days. In the Labs they tackled ethics in several fields such as the economy, measurements and quality, green campuses, teaching methods, business, plagiarism and ghost-writing, publications, and also new management models.
Dr Obiora Ike, new Globethics.net Executive Director closed the Forum by announcing that modules on teaching ethics will be made available soon on our Globethics.net website.