The UIC Barcelona Person, Society and Care Symposium, a 360 reflection on care

Over the three days, experts and renown speakers have reflected on the human dimension of care and the values it brings to people and society, and have shared different experiences and initiatives that are being carried out in this area

The Person, Society and Care Symposium was organised by UIC Barcelona with cooperation from the Institute of Advanced Family Studies (IESF) and the University’s Management by Missions and Corporate Purpose Chair, the three-day event concluded with successful participation and attendance. The cross-disciplinary programme covered different areas of care to promote cooperation and training from a comprehensive perspective.

UIC Barcelona rector, Dr Alfonso Méndiz, opened and closed the meeting emphasising that this symposium responded to the raison d'être and mission of the University, which was created with the aim of “placing the person at the heart, taking on the project of transforming society, and with the premise on caring for all.”

For three days, experts from different disciplines discussed care from different aspects, and addressed issues such as aging, loneliness and mental health. They have also shared experiences and initiatives and have addressed care beyond the health field.

Day one, which began with the investiture ceremony for Eduardo Bruera as doctor honoris causa, prior to the symposium, was focused on the current needs of care and led by mental health experts, who warned of a rise in self-harm and suicide attempts in adolescent girls.

Day two covered care and human relationships as the main topic. In this respect, experts participating in the various panel discussions agreed on the need to make care more humane. Pierpaolo Donati, professor of Sociology at the University of Bologna, and doctor honoris causa from UIC Barcelona, stressed social relationships as the foundation of making care more humane. Donati, who defined care as a gift, in the session “The care of another person as a social relationship”, stated that “society isn’t lacking the material and technological resources as much as it is lacking the relationship skills to integrate socially, welcoming and supporting people in hard times.”

Francesc Torralba, professor of Philosophy at Ramon Llull University, concluded that a leader must take into account certain traits, such as uncertainty, volatility, hyper-acceleration of society or vulnerability, when exercising leadership. In his lecture “Towards care-focused leadership,” he said that “leading well has to do with the consciousness that as people, we break.” In this respect, he added that “where there is indifference, there is no care; and where there is care, there is openness to the other person because the other person counts, the other person matters.”

That afternoon, social healthcare experts also emphasised the key role that the social environment has in avoiding unwanted loneliness that affects a significant part of the population that is vulnerable or has advanced diseases. In this sense, the Symposium speakers stressed the need to create networks that connect neighbours, shops and neighbourhood businesses so they can help detect these situations, and thus contribute to the public administration and the health system being able to intervene.

The Symposium ended on Saturday, 20 May, with a day focused on the importance of self-care. Luigina Mortari, professor of Philosophy and Epistemology of Qualitative Research at the Faculty of Medicine and Philosophy of Care at the University of Verona, spoke on “Taking care of yourself: recover the real sense of self-care,” in which she concluded that “if you don’t take care of yourself through your own personal growth, you can’t take care of others.” Day three was also attended by Agustín Domingo Moratalla, professor of Moral Philosophy and Politics at the Universitat de València, who spoke on care in the digital age. For the professor, talking about care refers to five “Cs”: competence, consciousness, confidence, compassion and confidence. Higinio Marin Pedreno, professor of Philosophy of the Cardenal Herrera CEU University in Elche, spoke about the essential value of care in the history of humanity.

The Person, Society and Care Symposium was part of the events commemorating the University’s 25th anniversary.