President of the American University of Sovereign Nations (AUSN)
We are speaking today with Dr. Darryl R.J. Macer, President of the American University of Sovereign Nations (AUSN), Director of the Eubios Ethics Institute (EEI) and the world’s leading expert on Bioethics and Global Public Health.
When did you first come to Thailand?
I first moved in October 2004 to work as UNESCO Regional Adviser for Social and Human Sciences in Asia and the Pacific, and then moved in March 2013 to the Centre for Ethics of Science in Society at Chulalongkorn University.
What has changed here the most?
The suburban Metro and Skytrain lines allow a wider range of residents to pursue professional careers in the modern global city of Bangkok. This will assist in the development of a more egalitarian society.
What has changed here the least?
The dependence of many persons on the informal society and being the land of smiles. Over the decades we can see many constitutions being adopted and challenged in Thai society, and it is a healthier democracy to enable dissent. This is nothing new and will likely continue in coming generations. At the same time, people realise that they need to maintain economic and social development, so the pragmatism and middle way is a secret of success in Thailand.
You are the President of a new online university based in the USA but with students studying with you here in Thailand. Tell us about that.
Actually, in March 2013 while in Thailand I cofounded the American University of Sovereign Nations (AUSN) (www.ausovereignnations.org), and we held our first AUSN International Conference in Thailand in May 2013 with one hundred persons from around the world. We launched AUSN in the USA on Native American land in the State of Arizona and held regular residential and virtual in person classes until June 2018 in Arizona. Since 2013 we have conducted residential workshops in a dozen countries around the world, including Thailand, UK, Japan, Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia, and many countries. Thai students’ study both in Thailand and other countries with AUSN.
You are running a series of online international conferences on the Covid-19 pandemic with many international medical professionals attending. Can you tell us about that?
Between March-December 2020 we have held 12 International Public Health Ambassador and Bioethics Conferences, and nearly 200 papers have been presented by experts in all disciplines and from all around the world, looking at realities, policies, and making recommendations. As we all live with COVID-19 under different situations, we try to exchange good practices for individuals and governments.
How has Thailand changed you?
As a social scientist and philosopher, to learn about the middle way, and how religion and culture coevolve in Thailand, and ASEAN, makes me more capable to be able to change the things in the world to make it more peaceful, and to bring different peoples together to do this.
Most universities around the world are seeing falling attendance for many reasons, but you are seeing rising attendance. Why is that?
We accept students on a rolling basis from every discipline and background, and the learning is done interactively together, with all being respected and everyone celebrating the wisdom of others.
You are the world’s leading expert on Bioethics and Bioethics Education. What can you share?
Bioethics is the love of life and is the art of decision making. We need it ever more, and over the past decades gradually more citizens are able to apply ethical principles, balance them, and make more decisions themselves. In order to teach we have to be a student at the same time, listening to others.
What will the world look like post Covid-19 pandemic?
This is up to how we all choose, but let’s be optimistic that it will make us more caring of how our actions affect others, less harmful to the environment, and have less discrimination to our fellow persons, because people of every colour and preference have died from this disease and know people who have died and are still sick.
What does the future hold for you?
As long as God wills me to be alive, I follow Gandhi – Be the change that you want to see in the world. Every two seconds someone dies early because of bad policy decisions, so we need to foster research and share that research with policy makers, to enact better policy in the world with more informed and empowered citizens.