7 May 2014

Training bioscience leaders for Middle East, North Africa

An educational institute co-organized by TWAS is designed to train and support bioscience leaders in a vitally important developing region.

Forty scientists from five Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries are convening in Trieste today for an educational institute co-organized by TWAS that will explore practices for scientific responsibility, with a focus on bioscience. The event, from 7 to 13 May, includes scientists from Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco and Yemen.

The researchers, all of whom have teaching duties at their home universities, will attend the '2nd MENA Educational Institute on Responsible Science', where they will join in highly interactive sessions to explore complex and often fascinating social and ethical questions that can arise in biological research. They will be guided by facilitators from Egypt, the United States, United Kingdom and Yemen. The event has been organized by the US National Academy of Sciences, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt, and TWAS.

The aim of the institute is to present to the scientists various case studies from the biosciences that raise questions about professional standards or involve dual-use research that could be used for harm as well as good. These scenarios will then be analysed and discussed in group sessions led by a team of experts assembled by the US National Academy.

During these group sessions, participants also will develop teaching modules on different topics related to responsible science that they will present to all institute participants on the final day of the meeting. Aspects of active teaching and learning, which appear to be highly effective in improving learning for adults, will also be presented during the institute and will serve as the basis for helping participants learn how to teach and share these subjects with their students and colleagues in their home countries.

"We really feel that by bringing these teachers and researchers to Trieste, coaching them on the responsible use of research, and listening to their concerns, we will enable them to be more effective mentors and role models to their own students and colleagues," said project coordinator Lida Anestidou, senior program officer at the US National Academy. "The information presented at the institute also will allow these scientists and those they teach to better engage and comply with emerging standards for the responsible conduct of science and research."

This is the second such workshop hosted by TWAS in Trieste; the first took place in June 2011. The first MENA institute to emerge from the meeting in Trieste was held in September 2012 in Aqaba, Jordan. A summary of that meeting report in available in English and Arabic.

Peter McGrath


This training programme was part of the TWAS Science Diplomacy programme, which includes lectures, seminars, workshops, international meetings, and a regional prize. Other such events have included the Budapest science diplomacy roundtable, a science diplomacy workshop on energy policy, and the AAAS-TWAS Summer Course in 2014.

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