Course description: Sustainable and responsible development is where scientific innovations are incorporated into the productive, social, and cultural systems. Questions related to the ethical, legal, and social implications of biotechnological advances are continuously arising in Italy and abroad. Bioethics represents a strong appeal to conscience asking in which direction is humanity guiding the scientific progress and what are the criteria for judging it, whether it is good or bad. The strategic role assumed by science in the biotechnological and socio-economic fields pushed scientists and researchers to seek social consensus around their activities, making science communication "public outreach" an absolute necessity. This course presents the main issues that bioethics is called to face today in the field of biotechnology. Furthermore, it addresses the following questions: how to judge advanced biotechnological applications in the agro-forestry, agri-environmental, agri-food, and biomedical sectors from an ethical point of view? Is biotechnology safe, acceptable, and responsible? What questions does it raise? What are the possible advantages, risks, benefits, and/or costs of its possible use? Course objectives: The course provides students with basic knowledge on bioethics. Students will have the opportunity to learn the most relevant cases concerning: agro-forestry, agro-environmental, and agro-food biotechnologies, medical biotechnologies, intellectual property, and socio-scientific aspects. The course also aims to lead students to reflect and adjudicate controversies and debates on ethical issues in biotechnology and to help them develop a decision-making model of bioethics after critical ethical reasoning.
Science and ethics (8 hours) • Introduction to bioethics • Bioethics and biotechnological sciences • Introduction to agro-forestry, agri-environmental, and agri-food biotechnologies
Bioethics in the field of medical biotechnologies (8 hours) • Gene therapy and ethical considerations • Give up on gene therapy? (a case study) • Stem cells and bioethics
Bioethics and biotechnology (8 hours) • Ethics and genetic engineering in the agricultural and forestry sector • Public opinion and acceptance of agro-forestry biotechnologies • Environmental impact of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) • Hungry for Science: how biotechnology is kept out of Africa? (a case study)
Bioethics, biotechnology, and intellectual property (8 hours) • Patent protection of biotechnologies • Ethical objections to the patentability of biotechnologies • Biotechnological patent - insulin (a case study) • The Harvard oncomouse (a case study) • The Upjohn mouse (a case study)
Bioethics decision-making model and ethical reasoning (16 hours) • Ethical issues in human gene therapy (3 case studies) • The boy in the plastic bubble (a case study) • COVID-19 vaccine (a case study) • Golden rice project (a case study) • Can biotechnology be open-source? • BiOS, an open-source science initiative • PIPRA, enabling access to public innovation
How to effectively communicate bioscience advances (8 hours) • Storytelling • Narratives • Bioethics retreat