n South African Journal of Higher Education - Integrating philosophical and bio-ethical perspectives in life sciences facilitator education

Volume 19, Issue 6
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



Critical pluralism in intellectual and scientific discourse has created a new awareness of, and an appreciation for the integration of belief and / or valuesystems in scientific models and curricula. This renewed emphasis on the incorporation of philosophical and ethical perspectives has resulted from recent advances in biological knowledge and technology on the one hand, and the fact that the impact of these advances is now also being examined in both the technological and the public domain. This volatility has left many educationist confused about how to integrate these aspects in curriculum design without being prescriptive. This article attempts to contextualise and highlight the need for integration of philosophical and bioethical perspectives in curriculation for courses at tertiary level in order to provide students with opportunities to engage with these issues in preparing them to be responsible teaching facilitators. To arrive at norms and values as outcomes, it is necessary to indicate the underlying philosophical and ethical issues that could determine the values and norms incorporated in a curriculum for the training of Life Sciences facilitators as stipulated in the New Curriculum Statements. Given this context, the article argues that science is not modified by our 'valuational intuitions', but rather seems to offer the possibility of educating students in dealing with the understanding of philosophical and ethical perspectives. This is done within the current South African educational framework. Some of the philosophical and bioethical issues that could impact on values and norms formed by students, and how these could be addressed within a Life Science curriculum, are explored. The philosophical and contextual framework set out is explained in terms of an example in the Life Sciences curriculum, and reasons why some educators cannot deal with these issues are investigated. Some recommendations are made on how to come to a workable solution to the problem.

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