Date of Award

January 2022

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Kaveh Khoshnood


The UNESCO Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights (UDBHR) was a well-intentioned but controversial document. Some scholars appreciated UNESCO’s attempts at providing an internationally recognized set of ethical guidelines. Other critics maintained the UDBHR, in particular Article 12, was yet another representation of Western ideological hegemony and an ill-informed attempt at embracing universality at the expense of diversity. This paper acknowledged this debate but approaches the UDBHR in trans-cultural manner, framing the UDBHR not as an imposing guideline, but as a seed around which dialogue can coalesce. Such dialogue might engage similarities, differences, and nuances between different ethical perspectives, and consider why these phenomena exist in a way that avoids excessive generalizations or dichotomizations. Using the UDBHR as a topical anchor, this paper explores and juxtaposes ethical perspectives from the United States and South Korea through qualitative, semi-structured interviews with American and Korean students involved in the health sector. Interview questions prompted participants to reflect on their ethical values and application of those values in difficult dilemmas. Responses were organized based on the UDBHR principles and examined further. The UDBHR principles all emerged in both Korean and American participant responses, although some responses embodied unique nuances. Although Korean and American perspectives on topics such as benefit, harm, and transparency were relatively comparable, discussions around individual ethics and solidarity had slightly different flavors: Koreans commonly considered individual ethics in the context of COVID-19, while solidarity was the main focus in American discussions around COVID-19. This paper concludes with a reflection on these observed nuances, and potential implications for future global ethics education.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access