Cultivating ethics through environmental education in medical sciences


Cultivar una ética desde la educación ambiental en las ciencias médicas



Zaddys Ahimara Ruiz Hunt, Kirene Torres Tellez, Lidyce Quesada Leyva

Camagüey University of Medical Sciences. Cuba.



To the editor:

During the so-called industrial revolution, systematic technological development began the aggression to the environment whose consequences today affect all living beings and the natural environment in which they live causing them damages.1 In the last 50 years global warming has increased. Climate change is the effect that we perceive as a consequence; this phenomenon is expressed in transformations in temperature, humidity, wind speed, etc. Counteracting it is the most important challenge of our time because it includes complex interactions between climatological, environmental, economic, social, political and institutional processes.2

On the other hand; the environmental or the environment is needed as a dynamic system defined by the physical, biological, social and cultural interactions, perceived or not, between human beings, other living beings and all the elements of the environment in which they operate, whether natural, transformed, or created by man.3

Taking into account the importance of the topic, the authors consider it necessary to socialize some aspects on environmental education, whose treatment in the medical sciences careers is necessary, either as a curricular strategy, as it is well conceived, or in university extension activities. The important thing is to cultivate in the students an ethic towards its care for its sequel in the life of the planet.

The term "environmental education" was used for the first time in 1972, in Stockholm, at the International Conference on the Environment, and since then it has been given a preponderance to generate necessary changes through the acquisition of knowledge, attitudes and values that allow to seriously face the environmental crisis with a view to achieving a better quality of life for current and future generations. It is an educational process for each individual, families, communities, society and the State, which makes it possible to make decisions and act in favor of sustainable and global sustained development.4 We consider this issue closely related to ethics, defined as the set of moral norms that govern the behavior of people in any area of life, and conceived as part of the philosophy that deals with the good and the foundation of their values.5

Traditionally, the concept of ethics was not linked to aspects related to the environment. The questions of the relationship between being and duty, cause and end, which are of its domain, were circumscribed to a sphere that excluded it, by not taking into account the global conditions of human life or the remote future. Only in very recent decades this issue constitutes an ethical concern because it has transformed the environment that has endangered the existence of life on the planet.1

Several philosophers and humanists advocate the need to achieve an ethical conscience; the solution to the environmental crisis requires knowledge and a change of mentality in the relationship between man and nature. It is time to commit to permanent action to stop the deterioration of ecosystems and their harmful consequences. It is urgent to implement and develop an ethic that privileges environmental education in our universities, which highlights the value of sciences from the first years, teaching the history of scientific knowledge and evolution and the role played by technology in the modernization of countries; an education that fosters interest, motivation and active participation, that teaches thinking in ecological terms to achieve awareness of what development means in harmony with the environment and the favorable role of science and technology in this regard.2,4,6

Environmental education must be continuous, dynamic, interdisciplinary, with a holistic vision of the universe, that promotes ethics, and makes us understand that human beings are part of nature, all equal and with the same rights, so we must take care of ourselves and respect each other and be responsible for the preservation of the planet in which we live for ourselves and future generations.

We assume that the development of an environmental ethic should be characterized by a change in attitude that is reflected in the transformation of the exaggerated consumption lifestyle by a style of responsible and environmental saving, expressed in the equitable distribution and utilization of natural resources and goods produced, with the eradication of poverty and its associated problems, for the improvement of life quality and with the development of a culture of peace manifested in peaceful coexistence and collaboration among nations.


Declaration of interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.



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Submitted: October 11 2017.
Accepted: February 13 2018.



Zaddys Ahimara Ruiz Hunt. Camagüey University of Medical Sciences. Cuba. E-mail:

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