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NeoHumanitas: Writing the Future Together

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In collaboration with the Graduate Campus of the University of Zurich, the OMICS-Ethics Research group of the University of Montreal,  and the think tank Neohumanitas:

From May 2013 to February 2014, you are invited to collaborate for the writing of a short e-book  in English as well as short newspaper articles or blogs in English, French or German about socio-ethical issues related to human enhancement. Writings will target a lay audience.

Application deadline: May 1st 2013. PhD-candidates and postdocs from all relevant disciplines are invited to apply. The numbers of participants is limited and a selection of best-suited participants may be required. To apply, please send a cover letter (explaining why you want to get involved in the project) and a curriculum vitae to the organization committee ( johann.roduit@ethik.uzh.ch )

Context: Recent technological progresses have made technological modifications of human beings a real possibility. Sooner or later, individuals will have the possibility to exchange their healthy limbs and organs for better artificial ones and transplantations of human brains into artificial carriers are under study. Therefore, socio-ethical issues related to human enhancement have started to be seriously considered by scholars around the world. While such a technological kind of revolution concerns the society as a whole, debates addressing the socio-ethical issues related to human enhancement have mainly been restricted to academics. Lay people are largely unaware of the discussions.

Aims: The objective of “NeoHumanitas: Writing the future together” is to encourage democratic and interdisciplinary involvement and discussion about some of the socio-ethical issues related to the technological modifications of human beings. The first step in such an approach is clearly to inform lay people of the already existing and potential future possibilities to enhance humans through emerging technologies as well as the socio-ethical issues that are already raised by such technological modifications. Based on an interdisciplinary group of young researchers (PhD students and postdocs) – primarily from the University of Zurich – writing groups will be launched with the objective of (1) publishing a collaborative short book  in English for a popular audience and (2) shorter newspaper articles or blogs in English, French or German about socio-ethical issues related to human enhancement. This project is a Graduate Campus activity. Therefore, priority to PhD students and postdocs from the University of Zurich will be given. Yet, the issues that will be tackled concern the society as a whole. The activities will therefore be opened to any Swiss academics interested in the discussions.

Writing Groups: The project will regroup a maximum of 21 PhD students and postdocs. Seven thematic groups have been created (i.e., Philosophy, Ethics, Religion / Sports / Military / Arts, Music, Cinema, Literature / Health & Medicine / Law, Politics & Environment / Science & Technology), in which writers will be equally distributed (i.e., 3 people per thematic group). Based on their thematic, each group will think, discuss and debate on socio-ethical issues related to already existing or potential technological interventions on human beings. Online forums (i.e., Google groups and Google Hangouts) will be used for “all days” discussions and debates. Once a month, each thematic group will have to post a summary of their progress on this virtual platform. Every participant will have the opportunity to comment and discuss the summaries of each group. Each group will have to designate a leader who will ensure that the work is correctly done. Critics and discussions will be encouraged. Conversations, comments and debates will be in English only. This project will give young researchers the opportunity (i) for capacity building, (ii) to take part in discussions and debates about current socio-ethical issues and (iii) to publish a book for a lay audience well as column in newspapers and blogs.

Blogs & Book: The objective of the project is to publish a book targeting lay people about some socio-ethical issues related to the applications of emerging technologies on humans.  Each thematic group will produce one manuscript, in English, of 2500-3000 words (i.e., 7 articles in total). All manuscripts will be based on solid science and written in a very fluent and easy style that will let lay people grasp the socio-ethical issues discussed. These articles will consist the core of the book, which will contain about 21’000 words, in English. This particular number of words is inspired from “TED books”. The book will be self-published as an e-book with Amazon Kindle. In addition, each thematic group will produce a shorter manuscript (500-800 words) summarizing their work. These manuscripts will be proposed either to German, French or English newspapers for publication. In addition, these articles will be accessible online on the interdisciplinary and international think tank NeoHumanitas A press conference will be held to launch the book.

ECTS Credits: Participation in this project lead to the acquisition of 2 ECTS credits (with the PhD-Program of Biomedical Ethics and Law). All participants will receive a Certificate of Attendance.

Kick-off event (discussion + apéro) for selected participants: May 15th, from 17h00 to 18h30, at the Institute of Biomedical Ethics, Pestalozzistrasse 24, CH-8032 Zürich. If you are unable to come (e.g if you join our online group from abroad), you will be kept up-to-date via our online google group.

Organisation: MSc Daniel Roiz, Institute of Molecular Life Sciences; Dr. Effy Vayena, Institute of Biomedical Ethics; MLaw, M.mel Philipp Skarupinski, Rechtswissenschaftliches Institut; MA Johann Roduit, Institut für Biomedizinische Ethik; Dr. Vincent Menuz, OMICS-ETHICS (University of Montreal), Neohumanitas (Geneva).

Joining experts: Prof Béatrice Godard (Montreal); Dr Alexandre Erler (Oxford)

Flyer: http://goo.gl/AOFKm

Pamphlet: http://goo.gl/46pSl

P.S: Please share the project with your peers and friends.

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