What Does It Mean for a Case to be ‘Local’?: the Importance of Local Relevance and Resonance for Bioethics Education in the Asia-Pacific Region


Contemporary bioethics education has been developed predominately within Euro-American contexts, and now, other global regions are increasingly joining the field, leading to a richer global understanding. Nevertheless, many standard bioethics curriculum materials retain a narrow geographic focus. The purpose of this article is to use local cases from the Asia-Pacific region as examples for exploring questions such as ‘what makes a case or example truly local, and why?’, ‘what topics have we found to be best explained through local cases or examples?’, and ‘how does one identify a relevant local case?’ Furthermore, we consider the global application of local cases to help extend the possible scope of the discussion, opening new avenues for the development of practical bioethics educational materials. We begin with a background description and discussion of why local cases enhance bioethics education, move to an overview of what is currently available and what is not for the region, and then outline a discussion of what it means to be local using example cases drawn from Hong Kong, Australia, Pakistan, and Malaysia. We are not creating a casebook but rather constructing by example a toolbox for designing active and dynamic learning cases using regional diversity as contextualised cases with generalised principles.

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    This photo and other examples are available at: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/proof/2017/07/hong-kong-living-trapped-lam-photos/


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The work on this paper was inspired by conversations at meetings of the Asia Pacific Bioethics Education Network (APBEN) hosted at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2018 and 2019. The authors would like to extend their thanks to APBEN members for their valuable input and support.

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Correspondence to Sara M. Bergstresser.

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Bergstresser, S.M., Ghias, K., Lane, S. et al. What Does It Mean for a Case to be ‘Local’?: the Importance of Local Relevance and Resonance for Bioethics Education in the Asia-Pacific Region. ABR 12, 173–194 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41649-020-00120-8

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  • Teaching ethics
  • Hong Kong
  • Pakistan
  • Malaysia
  • Australia