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International human rights scholar to speak on moral progress

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

LAWRENCE — Michael Ignatieff, Edward R. Murrow Professor of Practice at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, will speak at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 7, in the Lied Center Pavilion, as part of the Hall Center for the Humanities' 2015-2016 Humanities Lecture Series. “The Better Angels of our Nature: Is Moral Progress Possible?” is free and open to the public. A reception and book signing will occur after the lecture.

In a world where violence and turmoil are more visible than ever, Ignatieff asks, is it still possible to argue, as our Victorian forebears might have done, that human history is a story of moral progress? If technological and scientific progress are ideas beyond dispute, why is the idea of moral progress so contested?

Born in Canada, educated at the University of Toronto and Harvard, Ignatieff holds a doctorate in history from Harvard and has held academic posts at the University of British Columbia, Cambridge University, the University of Toronto, the London School of Economics, and Harvard, where he was director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy between 2000 and 2005. Between 2006 and 2011, he served as an MP in the Parliament of Canada and then as leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and leader of the Official Opposition. He is a member of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and holds 11 honorary degrees. He also currently serves as Centennial chair at the Carnegie Council for Ethics and International Affairs in New York.

Ignatieff will also participate in lunchtime conversation session the next day. “What Citizens Owe Strangers: Human Rights, Migrants, and Refugees” will take place at noon Friday, April 8, in the Hall Center Conference Hall. Space is very limited, so please RSVP at hallcenter@ku.edu.

The conversation will focus on human rights and the refugee crisis. Ignatieff will speak for 30 minutes before inviting discussion. Audience members are also invited to pose questions and advance topics that may not have been touched upon in the previous night’s session.

Founded in 1947, the Humanities Lecture Series is the oldest continuing series at KU. More than 150 eminent scholars from around the world have participated in the program, including author Salman Rushdie, poet Gwendolyn Brooks, and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Recent speakers have included Junot Diaz, Jeffrey Toobin, and Sarah Vowell. Shortly after the program’s inception, a lecture by one outstanding KU faculty member was added to the schedule. For information on the series, visit the Hall Center website.


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