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From the editor's desk.
Article Type:
Editorial
Subject:
Administrative agencies (Conferences, meetings and seminars)
Research institutes (Conferences, meetings and seminars)
Author:
Gabriele, Edward
Pub Date:
04/01/2010
Publication:
Name: Journal of Research Administration Publisher: Society of Research Administrators, Inc. Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Business; Business, general Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 Society of Research Administrators, Inc. ISSN: 1539-1590
Issue:
Date: April, 2010 Source Volume: 41 Source Issue: 2
Product:
Product Code: 8510000 Research & Development; 8519000 Research & Development NEC NAICS Code: 5417 Scientific Research and Development Services
Geographic:
Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States

Accession Number:
256777777
Full Text:
An international ethics conference in Botswana.

How did the journey begin?

In the Fall of 2007, I had transitioned into an executive position with one of the United States federal agencies to design, direct, and promote educational conferences and liaison development initiatives within the United States and overseas. Specifically, I was exploring the possibility of an international conference concerning the relationships between ethics, healthcare, medicine, and research. One evening, with that task in the forefront of my mind, a television commercial reminded me to download from iTunes a favorite song of mine by the British artist, Annie Lennox. My download led to a series of web searches that finally ended with my viewing her video-clip, Sing.

Singcaught me up in a whirlwind. I watched Annie Lennox move HIV+ women in South Africa to dance and sing themselves into a personal resilience beyond words. Tears streamed, and the index finger of my right hand pointed at my computer monitor, "I am going to do something about that. "

Until the early morning hours, I explored the southern African area and the health needs of the people of the region. I recalled various academic collaborations within the Society of Research Administrators International that I had enjoyed with a few colleagues at the University of Botswana. Over the years, they had made me increasingly aware of the critical mission that the University was leading for the benefit of those most in need.

Suddenly, the conference-concept exploded. It could meet a number of goals both practical and greater. Realizing the time difference, I raced into my office very early and called my colleagues at the University. The collaborations began.

From the start, the conference-concept needed a title that would act as a powerful metaphor. What came about was a need to capture not just the sharing of intellectual information for the enrichment of the brain, but, more importantly, the powerful energies of the heart for the deepening formation of persons and communities. Small wonder the conference title became, "Retrieving the Human Face of Science: Understanding Ethics and Integrity in Healthcare, Medicine and Research."

The concept was slowly taking shape as a global force for the good--an act of systemic educational sharing with the ultimate goal of humanitarian assistance for the sick, the suffering, and those who care for them. Things seemed to be well on track.

Suddenly, though, an unexpected transition occurred that augmented the concept in ways beyond my imagining.

In May 2008, I was offered the opportunity to transfer back to Navy Medicine, the original government agency I had served starting in 1991. Back home at Navy Medicine, I became Special Assistant to the US Navy Surgeon General for Ethics and Professional Integrity. With my transfer, the concept had to come with me from my prior agency. I planned to present it to the Surgeon General hoping for his interest.

During my in-brief with Admiral Adam Robinson, I shared the story with him and told him the event was a concept that needed a home to be realized. The decision was his. Smiling he said, "Why wouldn't Navy Medicine want to do this for others? That's our mission. Let's do it. "

The rest is history.

A wide variety of initiatives, planning meetings, and dreams brought about reality. The University became the actual sponsor led by its own Office of Research and Development. Partnering with the University were Navy Medicine and the Graduate School of Nursing at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Including any number of private sector scholars and experts, it was astounding to see so many institutions and agencies provide for the conference faculty to take part in this signature event. We were especially honored that Archbishop Emeritus and Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu agreed to be the opening keynote speaker.

Finally taking place in December 2009, the Botswana international ethics conference brought together distinguished keynote speakers, lecturers, respondents, and panelists. They addressed critical ethics issues for healthcare leaders and researchers, especially for the first class of medical students in the new School of Medicine at the University. In the end, it was absolutely a stunning success.

But a question needs to be asked.

"Was the conference a one-time story whose success is destined to fade quickly with the passing of each slideshow image on a laptop photo album? Or is there something deeper?"

During the development of the conference, we were delighted to make the acquaintance of the United States Ambassador to Botswana, Stephen J. Nolan. The Ambassador's personal support and enthusiasm were incomparable. He commented often that the power of this event must go well beyond its closing. He urged us to find ways to ensure that the academic scholarship and interior formation energized in this conference continue to be important gifts and resources for others well beyond its closing. This publication answers the Ambassador's urging in part.

The Proceedings provides you, our readers, with a means of entering into the experience of the conference keynotes and lectures. It includes diverse texts that address the importance of the conference. It incorporates reflections on how the conference touched the lives of those who participated. To secure the perpetuity of these texts and in the spirit of its own international mission, the Society of Research Administrators International agreed to publish the Proceedings as a special edition of its Journal of Research Administration (Volume 41, Number 2).

But yet still another question needs to be asked.

"Is this just an electronic or print moment in time, an artistic flash of interest celebrating an intellectual memory?"

No.

In the Greek tradition, icons are important and powerful. Many know icons as the painted images used in Greek Orthodox Churches. The images, though, are not simple, religious pictures. They represent something much more than pious imagery. They are pure art. They are metaphors; as such, they evoke and sustain a power deeper than one can imagine.

As metaphors, icons are sacred windows into the experience of the Ultimate. They are the means by which the limited imagination of the mortal enters into and is caught up in the overwhelming Presence of an "Other" who cannot be tied down to one age, one thought, one conceptualization. Icons are doorways to the sacred that overpower the individual and move one to change at the deepest possible level. They shatter boundaries and invite one into a dimension free of all of the restrictions of logic's limits.

This Proceedings is essentially an invitation into an icon-experience. The experience is not the publication itself. No, this is an invitation into something that transpired in Gaborone, Botswana, at a university, for one short but seemingly limitless week, in the December of 2009.

One only needs to look at the image on the cover to understand what I mean. We see the face of a child whose eyes draw us into something many of us have tried to escape. The eyes betray a longing, a need, a burning anger. They want to know, "Why?"

This is the question that led several hundred people to Botswana to share, to hope, to dream, to protest the inequities that mar the innocence of the poor. They came in December 2009, without realizing it, to retrieve and never forget the human face of science. They came for a conference, and entered into something unfathomable. They left stretched beyond their limits to meet afterward with new compassion the eyes of those who look to us with longing, with the sheer and undiluted desire to be made whole.

Now, as you enter into the following pages: Will you be able easily to forget? Will you have the courage to enter into the icon and do something for those who need us most? How will you, with hands open and fingers pointing not at a monitor but at your own hearts, do something for and about them?

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