Department of Bioethics

LSMU Faculty of Publich Health
Department of Bioethics
room 117, Tilžės g. 18 
Phone: +370 37 327233

Assoc. prof. Gvidas Urbonas

Study administrator
Regina Jurkonienė

About us

The Department of Social Sciences and Humanities is among the oldest at the university. For nearly five decades, it stems from the academic units which have been in charge of teaching philosophy, logics, ethics, medical ethics, aesthetics and other disciplines pertaining to the field of humanities and social sciences. Taking the humanist traditions characteristic of the inter-war period university in Kaunas and its’ faculty of Medicine, its’ successor Kaunas Medical Institute as well as Kaunas University on Medicine, and currently enrooted in the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, the department puts all efforts in continuing its’ main task, namely sustaining the humanist tradition in educating professionals in different areas of medicine, pharmacy, odontology, public health, nursing, social work in medicine. The number and richness of disciplines taught and the research areas encompassed by the department have increased significantly over the past years, the scope varying from earlier taught courses towards very new areas such as bioethics, art therapy, sociology, sustainable human development, social anthropology, social human relations, organizational culture and other. Department recently became a home for the BSc studies programme in social sciences “Medical social work” which is unique in Lithuania in terms of interdisciplinary character, merging the needs of health institutions in the professionals of social work.  The courses taught by the staff of the department and main research areas are further delineated in the following paragraphs.



Thecourses taught by the department cover vast range of disciplines within social sciences and humanities of so-called ‘horizontal’ character, namely addressing the main objective of sustaining the humanist tradition of the university in educating professionals in different areas of medicine, pharmacy, odontology, public health, nursing, psychology.

Some courses are compulsory and singular in different faculties and study programs within the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences such as philosophy, ethics, sociology, logics, etc. Some other courses are shaped out of modules, many of which are taught by the staff of the department in cooperation with colleagues from other departments of LSMU. There is a variety of elective courses offered by the SSH department to the students of various faculties and departments of LSMU, for example, medical ethics, bioethics, art therapy, aesthetics, social anthropology, basics of spirituality, pop-culture and medicine, organizational culture, sustainable human development, qualitative research methods.

A very special place at the department is devoted to the program of “Medical social work” – a unique four year BSc studies program in social sciences that counts more than a decade at the university, and has been enrooted at the SSH department for the last two years. The courses of the programme are enlisted in a separate section. The main aim of this study programme is to prepare competent social workers who are able to optimize interaction between patients/clients and their environment enhancing a holistic approach in all levels of health care as well as social care system. The general learning outcome of the study programme is graduates’ ability to initiate positive changes within the client’s micro and macro level social functioning applying knowledge and skills of empowerment for client’s participation and decision making in health and social care processes. Study programme teaching methods focus is development of students’ creativity skills, responsibility, communication and professional ethics. Graduates will be able to work at all levels of health care system, state and non-nongovernmental social services agencies, international projects.



The main research areas, themes and questions addressed by the scholars of SSH department closely correspond with their courses taught, areas of expertise, academic interests. Some research has been funded by the Lithuanian Research Council, different EU programs, and other international and local funding agencies. Scholars of the department often act as experts in different international and national bodies, for  example, the Lithuanian National Bioethics Committee, EU Commission’s Research Executive Agency, Lithuanian National Center for the Assessment of Studies’ Quality, United Nations Climate Change UNFCCC, International Sociological Association, International Bioethics Association, American Sociological Association, European Sociological Association and other.  The main research areas and questions could be summarized as follows:


1. Ethical, sociological and cultural aspects of public health:

a)  Ethical and cultural determinants of public health: factors, motives, tendencies

b)  Social-economic determinants of public health: factors, motives, tendencies


2. Social work  and innovations for public health and welfare at the levels of:

a) individual,

b) family,

c) labour organization,

d) institutions of public health, care, nursing, rehabilitation,

e) communities (particularly social inclusion, engagement therapy).


3. Bioethics, human ecology  and sustainable human development.

a) bioethical issues of human life;

b) linkages between health, environmental, socio-political and economic aspects in the quest for sustainable human development;

c) human relations, social and organizational change for sustainable development.