First competence centre on ethics in higher education established

12 Dec 2023

With an agreement on a three-year research agenda, signed by representatives of the leadership of the Universidad de los Andes (Uniandes) and Globethics during the international conference on Transversal Ethics in Higher Education: Facing the Challenges of Contemporary Societies in Bogotá, Colombia, from 1 to 3 November 2023, Globethics starts a new period in its organisational life and worldwide partnership engagement with the launch of the first Competence Centre on ethics and standards in higher education.

Globethics and Uniandes sign a research agenda agreement
Globethics and Uniandes sign a research agenda agreement

Co-creating innovative knowledge on a global scale

Weaving competence centres into the global and regional fabric of Globethics has been the organisation’s aim since the end of 2019. From the outset, the objective was to gather like-minded institutions which have distinguished themselves by conducting high-level research in selected ethical fields and to create an international research network able to advance knowledge and to offer recommendations for the innovation of teaching and learning in ethics.

This vision has now come to fruition with Universidad de los Andes as the first Globethics Competence Centre on ethics and standards in higher education. Uniandes is a university renowned for its innovative approach to ethics as transversal to teaching, learning, research and higher education governance in the Latin American region and beyond.

In the upcoming three-year period from 2023 to 2026, Globethics and Uniandes have agreed to work on three main research projects. All three projects carried out by lead researchers in collaboration with colleagues from other institutions, have strong empirical components. They are designed to build on the strengths and experiences of Uniandes, and will investigate for example the effective integration of ethics in the formation of students, in research and curricula. There will also be praxis-oriented projects, which are intended to compare diverse approaches and models of inserting ethics across the curriculum.

One of the specific outcomes this competence centre aims at is to engage with other institutions, educators and policymakers from other regions of the world on the research results to foster international alliances of knowledge on ethical standards in higher education.

Manuela Fernandez Pinto and Amélé Ekué, who coordinate the Globethics-Uniandes Competence Centre, together with their steering committee colleagues Maria Eugenia Barroso and Didier Arnulfo Santiago Franco, emphasise that “internationalisation is not just a trend word in higher education. It reflects the intentional efforts for genuine interdisciplinary and cross-cultural research that sheds light on how ethics can be mainstreamed and standardized across the university sector. This can be achieved without losing out of sight the methodological and contextual variances, and our competence centre’s research projects will constitute fascinating milestones to showcase this international comparative dimension of integrating ethics in the higher education framework.”

Individual researchers as well as institutions of higher education and research interested in the Globethics competence centre and collaborative research initiatives may contact the Academy team: [email protected] for further information.

International conference on Transversal Ethics in Higher Education: Facing the Challenges of Contemporary Societies

Marking the launch of the competence centre, the International Joint Conference on Transversal Ethics in Higher Education, held in Bogotá, Colombia from 1 - 3 November 2023, was a significant gathering organised by Globethics and the Centre of Applied Ethics (CEA) at Universidad de los Andes (Uniandes).

The conference aimed to underscore the crucial role of transversal ethics in higher education and its profound impact on societies, acknowledging that higher education institutions are not only centers for academic learning but also platforms for nurturing responsible citizens and ethical individuals.

Amélé Ekué at International Conference in Bogota, Colombia
Amélé Ekué at the international conference in Bogota, Colombia

With over 300 participants, including faculty, educators, researchers, and administrative staff, the conference provided a platform to share experiences and best practices for promoting ethical reflection and judgment as a central component of higher education.

Keynote speakers from Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Argentina, and Kenya enriched the discussions, addressing the importance of integrating ethics across higher education.

The event featured three primary panels that focused on the need for ethical awareness and social responsibility in higher education, the relationship between artificial intelligence (AI) and education, and strategies to seamlessly integrate ethics into the curriculum. Challenges in achieving transversality in ethics were acknowledged, requiring substantial institutional efforts, teacher training, and intentional curricular design.

Complementing the discussions, dynamic workshops encouraged active participation, knowledge sharing, and interactive dialogue. Workshops covered topics such as mainstreaming ethics in curriculum development, the potential of AI in education, and addressing academic fraud through ethics and academic integrity.

The conference also celebrated the 10th anniversary of UniAndes' Centre of Applied Ethics, presenting a commemorative book that highlighted the centre's contributions to the transversalization of ethics in higher education.

Key figures, including Catalina González Uribe, Juny Montoya Vargas, Manuela Fernández Pinto, and Amélé Ekué, emphasized the importance of international collaboration and the formulation of recommendations for public policy to measure and promote progress in ethics inclusion across curricula.

As discussed at the conference, the path forward underscores the enlightening and bridge-building role of education in fostering responsible leadership, global citizenship, and human flourishing through diversity. It emphasizes the need to transcend credentialism, contemplate the role of AI in classrooms, and to champion teacher training for an educational ethos that goes beyond academic pursuits.

Transversal Ethics in Higher Education Conference