Ethics in Global Health


Course Objective

The course main objective is to gain knowledge on ethics and ethical
principles, and master the competences and reasoning skills typical of
practical philosophy applied to the field of global health.

In particular students will be guided towards attaining the following
specific learning objectives:

1. Acquiring knowledge and insight into the central concepts and
theories in applied philosophy and professional, medical and research
2. Acquiring knowledge and insight on relevant topics in ethics (e.g.
medical ethics, ethics of care, deontology and consequentialist
approaches) in particular those relating to health research.
3. Acquiring knowledge and insight into the (instruments for) evaluation
of moral dilemmas including implicit and explicit moral choices that are
made with regard to global health issues
4. Learning to formulate a proper ethical justification in research
5. Learning to apply methods and techniques for facilitating
constructive discussions about ethical issues in global health research.
6. Acquiring reasoning and writing skills for ethics in global health.
7. Developing an open and respectful attitude with respect to diverse
value patterns.

Course Content

Ethics entails the study of fundamental values of moral conduct and
issues concerning what is right and wrong in the way human beings
behave. A solid understanding of ethical reasoning and ethical
principles is essential for any researcher and professional in the field
of global health. Indeed, here interventions and research can impact on
fundamental interests of people involved such as dignity, autonomy,
physical and psychological integrity, life or personal freedom. For
these reasons, all professionals and researchers in this area need to be
able to address questions such as: is what I am doing morally
acceptable? Is my intervention/research doing more good than harm? Is it
respectful of the dignity and autonomy of people involved? In addition,
researchers in this field often have to reflect on the ethical
implications of their research in front of an ethical review committee
and the research proposals they submit to funding bodies have to contain
most of the times an ethics section explaining and justifying how the
project complies with the principles of medical and/or research ethics.
The course Ethics in Global Health aims both to equip you with the
conceptual tools necessary to analyse the ethical and moral implications
of research and interventions in the field of global health, and to
provide useful information on how to write the ethics section/ethical
justification of a research proposal. Together we will study the basics
of medical and research ethics and will analyse the challenges emerging
when such principles are applied to practices and projects at a
multinational/global level. In this way, you will not only gain some
important notions and skills for your future career, but also and most
importantly you will become a more conscious researcher and
professional, who is able to reflect on the consequences of what he/she
does and to understand how his/her work impacts on
the life of fellow human beings. This will be done through lectures,
explaining the evolution and functioning of ethics and analysing main
principles of healthcare ethics, a workshop in which we will explore and
practice with various methods of ethical reasoning, and work groups in
which you will discuss selected issues in ethics in global health and
will receive feedback on your writing for ethics. You will also have the
opportunity to test your understanding of ethics through two assignments
(subject to evaluation). The first assignment will require you to
analyse ethical dilemmas emerging from a concrete case, while the second
assignment will consist in writing, in pairs, the ethics section/ethical
justification of the research proposal you have been preparing for the
course Writing a Research Grant Proposal.
The spirit and the content characterising this course is substantially
different than many of the modules you have been studying before, which
mainly focus on dealing with data and factual problems. We will see that
in ethics solutions are often controversial and more than one right
answer is possible. In addition, though knowledge of concepts and
principles is important, even more crucial in this area is the capacity
to play with principles, draw connections between them, understand their
implications and argue your position. In other words,
this course will not only be about what to know about ethics but also on
how to explain it. Anyway, do not worry, the course will not be a series
of abstract discussions about nice sounding principles taking place on
an ivory tower. Also this course will be about reality, only it may
reveal to you a reality which is a little bit more complex than you

Teaching Methods

Lectures: 6 hours
Workshop and Work Groups: 12 hours
Work on assignments: 30 hours
Self-study: 30 hours
Exam: 2 hours

Method of Assessment

Analysis of ethical case/dilemma (25%)
Research proposal ethics section/ethical justification (25%)
Exam (50%)

All elements have to be passed (5,5/10 or higher).


Articles on Canvas

Target Audience

Second-year students of research master in Global Health. Only open for
students not enrolled in Global health research master, after consent of
the coordinator.

Additional Information

Compulsory course for Global Health students

Custom Course Registration


General Information

Course Code AM_1047
Credits 3 EC
Period P2
Course Level 600
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator K. De Sabbata
Examiner dr. E.V. Syurina MSc
Teaching Staff K. De Sabbata

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Study Group, Lecture
Target audiences

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