The Ethics and Public Policy Laboratory (EthicsLab) is a new venture at the Catholic University of Central Africa (UCAC) that will be a center of research excellence, incubating innovative ideas and developing young researchers that will contribute to the promotion of a culture of integrity in public and private domains, and advance just public policies in Central Africa. After years of laying a solid foundation through the successful Young African Scholars’ Yaoundé Seminars, EthicsLab officially launched its activties through a Lunch Week event hosted by the Catholic University of Central Africa (UCAC), with the support of University of St. Gallen, the Berggruen Institute, the Unviersity of Utrecht, Stanford University, Harvard University and Brasseries du Cameroon. The launch week featured an inaugural conference as well as a Berggruen Worksop that brought together leading international and local researchers with proven track records in the practice of research in ethics and the management of research centers in ethics.
The scientific agenda of EthicsLab envisions two targets:
The Political Agency of African societies. it can be rashly asserted that Africa’s political agency has been knocked out in the past due to slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism. Today, Africa’s potentials continue to be undermined by neo-liberal proclamations of international aid and some forms of political liberalism. To this end, two components of political agency can be deduced. One is autonomy and addresses the issue of how African societies should define and undertake their own political destiny. The other is responsibility and focuses on the way African societies should assume their political obligations towards their own citizens instead of dumping their duties onto others. While the first component has been a prominent target in the past, the second remains a subject of today’s debates. EthicsLab expect to explore both.
African perspectives of normative theories. The aim is not to take for granted the dominant moral and political theories, especially Anglo-American, and see how they can be applied to the specific African context, but rather to undertake the ambitious and very difficult task of developing and elaborating, if necessary, new theories coherent with the moral beliefs and intuitions rooted in African intellectual traditions and experiences. EthicsLab intends to apply these new theories to concrete situations and questions under the five research avenues that EthicsLab intends to pursue—health, education, environment, economy and business, and politics—with the goal of informing and transforming the institutional and policy environment.
Contributing to the advancement of fundamental and applied research in the field of ethics, primarily on issues of economic, social, and political importance that may ultimately bear on the public policy-building process inside the central African sub-region and shape a culture of integrity. The goal here is to make evidence and values inform the process of building fair and efficient public policies;
Stimulating deep ethical reflection within local partner universities and institutes. This is to be achieve by spurring clear and informed public debates among citizens and intellectuals through a strong, evidence-based understanding of prevalent challenges, a progressive vision to tackle such challenges, and effective and innovative strategies to implement them;
Creating an excellent research environment for permanent, non-permanent and visiting researchers and academics, while building an intellectual incubator for young local talents to research, live and work in the central African sub-region;
Developing strategic and academic partnerships with the best research centers in ethics around the world as well as with the non-profit organizations that share the common vision of developing more prosperous and fair human societies.