Participants of the Global Neuroethics Summit pre-summit workshop in Uppsala May 2019

Why and how should we engage the public with neuroscience? What are the common global questions for the public engagement in neuroethics and what are national and regional differences? These were some of the questions addressed at the Global Neuroethics engagement workshop that took place 19-21 May in Uppsala, Sweden. This workshop brought together more than 30 neuroethics and public engagement experts from around the world. It was organised by the Global Neuroethics Group of the International Brain Initiative (IBI), the Kavli Foundation, the Ethics and Society Subproject of the Human Brain Project (HBP) and the Danish Board of Technology which is responsible for public engagement in the HBP. This was the Pre-summit meeting for the Global Neuroethics Summit A Year of Engagement toward Initiating a Lifetime of Practice’ that will take place 25-27 September in Daegu, South Korea.  

Public engagement with issues of neuroethics is the current priority of the Global Neuroethics Group. Accordingly, the workshop aimed to integrate insights from the fields of science engagement and neuroethics. Over two and a half days experts discussed goals, practices and methods of public engagement with neuroethics taking stock of lessons learned and planning future activities. A wide range of engagement experiences from the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, China, South Korea and Europe were shared including science communication and social media strategies, exhibits and partnerships with artists and informal education practices.

The meeting took place in Uppsala to coincide with the meeting of the Ethics and Society Subproject of the Human Brain Project (HBP). Representatives from the HBP presented their experiences with Responsible Research and Innovation, public engagement, neuroethics and philosophy, ethics support and researcher awareness.  

Global Neuroethics Questions

Exploration of future engagement activities included working on the key neuroethics questions and considering how to engage the public with these questions. These five neuroethics questions to guide ethical research in the International Brain Initiatives defined by the Global Neuroethics Summit are as follows:

  • Q1. What is the potential impact of a model or neuroscientific account of disease on individuals, communities, and society?
  • Q2. What are the ethical standards of biological material and data collection and how do local standards compare to those of global collaborators?
  • Q3. What is the moral significance of neural systems that are under development in neuroscience research laboratories?  
  • Q4. How could brain interventions impact or reduce autonomy?
  • Q5. In which contexts might a neuroscientific technology/innovation be used or developed?

The workshop generated a lot of ideas and questions which will set the foundation for the upcoming Global Neuroethics Summit in Daegu, Republic of Korea. In Korea, delegates will discuss future work and opportunities for learning and collaborating among and beyond the brain initiatives.  

The International Brain Initiative (IBI) launched in 2017 brings together some of the world’s major brain research projects from the US, Europe, Canada, China, Japan, South Korea and Australia. It aims to advance ethical neuroscience research through international collaboration and knowledge sharing. The Global Neuroethics Group is one of the IBI’s working groups. Since 2017 the Group has been organising the annual Global Neuroethics Summit.

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