Top Education certificate for Dutch Master Care Ethics and Policy

top education certificate

The Dutch accreditation organization for higher education (NVAO) awarded the master program Care Ethics and Policy of the University of Humanistic Studies the certificate ‘Top Education University 2018’.

Top Education

The master Care Ethics and Policy, at the University for Humanistic Studies in Utrecht, The Netherlands, is unique in the world. Chair professor dr. Carlo Leget and his team are very pleased with this award, that is an expression of appreciation by their students, as the award is chosen by students themselves through an independent, national survey.
Leget:

“It shows that this unique program is aligned with what our students want to learn. Nowadays, students search for both theoretical depth as the possibility to practice empirical research in the everyday practices they are part of. This is what our program focuses upon: we provide and form a community of inquiry of students, their practices, our professors and their courses.  Not just directed at care in hospitals or nursing homes, but also grounded in policy, education, research and social settings like the home and at work. We are extremely proud and grateful that that we received this esteemed Dutch award”.

Master Care Ethics and Policy

The one-year Master Care Ethics and Policy provides students with an interdisciplinary education focused on improving health care, health systems and policy from a care ethical perspective. The master is specifically tailored to the healthcare and social welfare sector, but also includes guest lecturers and examples from other domains where care is at stake. Our program prepares graduates for staff, management and executive positions in hospitals, long-term care, nonprofits, government, scientific and other organizations, as well as positions in consultancy and research.

Our student population is a mixture of professionals with work experience, and of recently graduated students from other universities. The range of professionals varies from professionals working for nonprofits and local municipalities, to board members of elderly care homes, nurses, midwifes, policy advisors, physical therapists and medical doctors.

All lecturers of the program have close ties with care institutions, where they carry out their own research. Through education and research and through advisory councils and ethical committees they are closely involved in the processes and developments in healthcare institutions. Together they form the Care Ethics research group.

Course in English

The first semester course: Introduction to Care Ethics is offered in English. European students can follow this semester with the Exchange program, including four courses from the Master’s program in Humanistic Studies.

Care Ethics Research Consortium

Prof. Carlo Leget launced CERC with prof. dr. Joan Tronto, who received an honorary doctorate from the University of Humanistic Studies in 2014. On the occasion of each lustrum, the University confers honorary doctorates on prominent individuals, both domestic and international, whose work and life have a significant bearing on Humanistic Studies
Read the laudatio from prof.dr. Carlo Leget for prof. dr. Joan Tronto.

Carlo Leget

Carlo Leget

Interview with prof.dr. Carlo Leget, Chair Care Ethics, University of Humanistic Studies, The Netherlands.

1. Where are you working at this moment?

Since 2012 I am a full professor in Care Ethics at the University of Humanistic Studies in Utrecht, The Netherlands. At the same university I hold an endowed chair in Ethical and spiritual questions in palliative care, established by the Association Hospice Care Netherlands.

2. Can you tell us about your research and its relation to care ethics?

My research is situated at the intersection between care ethics and spirituality or meaning, and my main area of expertise is in palliative care and end-of-life issues. In my view care practices are an important source for a meaningful life, and care ethics offers an excellent entrance to reflecting on meaning in a way that makes us aware of how the way we organize society has a great impact on what people experience.

One of my PhD-students e.g. interviewed older people who are tired with life – and who are the subject of a debate on euthanasia in my country – and was able to demonstrate that these people suffer from existential problems that are related to the way we have organized our society.

3. How did you get involved in care ethics?

I was trained as a theologian and during the writing of my PhD thesis on life and death in the theology of Thomas Aquinas I became more and more interested in ethics. I switched from theology to medical ethics, but I gradually became more and more critical to mainstream medical ethics. In 2009 I had the opportunity of switching to an associate professorship in care ethics and that has been a great inspiration ever since.

4. How would you define care ethics?

I see care ethics as an interdisciplinary field of inquiry to which many disciplines are contributing since the beginning of the 1980’s.

5. What is the most important thing you learned from care ethics?

I have a strong tendency to rationalize and abstract from the concrete messiness of life. That is why I was probably so attracted to the scholastic thinking of Aquinas – although getting to know him, I discovered that he is often misunderstood. What many people do not know e.g. is that he wrote the largest medieval treatise on emotions (passiones animae) in the Middle Ages.
When I was young, I was a typical ‘Jake’ kind of guy, and care ethics taught me to see the value of ‘Amy’s way’, to put it in terms of Gilligan’s book. Or to put it differently: epistemologically care ethics has turned my world upside down.

6. Whom would you consider to be your most important teacher(s) in this area?

This is hard to tell, because I have learned so much from so many authors. In the Netherlands I think Annelies van Heijst has been a great inspiration. Internationally the three authors that have changed my way of looking of things are Carol Gilligan, Joan Tronto and Margaret Urban Walker.

7. What publications do you consider the most important with regard to care ethics?

Another hard question. For me personally the books of these four women have been very important: Professional Loving Care, In a Different Voice, Moral Boundaries, and Moral Understandings. After the impact of these books, authors I got to know afterwards seem to be less ground breaking. But I know that my thinking is also influenced by many others, like Maurice Hamington, Daniel Engster, Helen Kohlen, Fabienne Brugères and Sophie Bourgault, to name but a few.

8. Which of your own books/articles should we read?

I think I did a decent job in my paper ‘Analyzing dignity: a perspective form the ethics of care’ that was published in Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy in 2013. And more recently I wrote a paper with the colleagues of my department with the title: ‘Beyond demarcation: care ethics as an interdisciplinary field of enquiry’ which will be published in Nursing Ethics this year. And last week my latest book came out, Art of Living, Art of Dying. Spiritual Care for a Good Death. Although I am a little reluctant to call it a care ethics work, it is very much inspired by a care ethical approach.

9. What are important issues for care ethics in the future?

For me the great thing about care ethics is that it opens a space for interdisciplinary cooperation inspired by a common idea of the importance of creating a complex and life-sustaining web that makes the world a better place to live in, to quote freely from Joan Tronto’s and Berenice Fischer’s definition. Such a web involves all kinds of connections between disciplines and traditions, and for me the integration of empirical and theoretical research is very important. But also the possibility to connect different approaches like phenomenology, practice theory and political theory in order to create something that does justice to the richness of the concept of care.

10. How may care ethics contribute to society as a whole, do you think?

By taking part in societal debates in newspapers, radio, television and social media, and presenting people a different way of looking at the world. But also by educating students. I am very proud of the Master’s degree in care ethics we run at our university, where (mainly) professionals are introduced to care ethics. When they return to their jobs they are important ambassadors of a care ethical way of looking at the world.

11. Do you know of any research-based projects in local communities, institutions or on national levels, where ‘care’ is central? Please describe.

There are many projects that come to my mind, but not all of them have reflected well on what care is. One project I am involved in myself focuses at enabling patients and families who are involved in palliative care to share their thoughts and worries on an existential level. I think palliative care is a very interesting field for care ethical reflection, because it is all about dealing with relationships, corporeality, vulnerability, power relations and meaning or spirituality.

12. The aim of the consortium is to further develop care ethics internationally by creating connections between people who are involved in this interdisciplinary field, both in scientific and societal realms. Do you have any recommendations for us?

My recommendation is that it is important to travel and to meet people face to face. We cannot live by reading and writing alone: if we take central insights of care ethics like the importance of corporeality seriously, we must meet in person and experience the personal concerns behind our scientific work. Building a care ethical movement is about more than transporting ideas. It is also about building a living network of relations. From there we will develop further agenda’s and collaborations.

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