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Michael Ignatieff Presents Inaugural Mudd Center for Ethics Lecture at W&L

Renowned author, academic and former politician Michael Ignatieff will present the inaugural lecture for Washington and Lee University’s Roger Mudd Center for Ethics on Thursday, Oct. 31.

The lecture, titled “American Democracy, Human Rights, and the Use of Force,” will be in Lee Chapel at 4:30 p.m. The public is invited, and the event is free.

• Watch the lecture live.

Established through a gift to his alma mater from award-winning journalist Roger Mudd, of the Class of 1950, the Mudd Center for Ethics is committed to fostering serious inquiry into, and thoughtful conversation about, important ethical issues in public and professional life.  It seeks to advance dialogue, teaching, and research about these issues across the University. The Mudd Center aims to encourage a multidisciplinary perspective on ethics informed by both theory and practice.

Mudd, who will attend the inaugural events, has said that he decided to endow a center for the study of ethics at W&L based on his belief that the state of ethics in our current society demands such study, and that his alma mater is the appropriate place to carry out that study.

Angela Smith, director of the center and the first Roger Mudd Professor of Ethics, said that Ignatieff is an ideal speaker to begin the center’s important work.

“It is difficult to think of a more appropriate individual to give the inaugural lecture for the Roger Mudd Center for Ethics than Prof. Michael Ignatieff,” Smith said. “He is a well-respected academic, who has published on important topics of public and professional ethics ranging from the philosophy of punishment, to political economy in the enlightenment, to issues of nationalism, to human rights and the war on terror.

“But he has also spent time as a practicing professional, both as an award-winning journalist and documentary filmmaker in Britain, and as the national leader of the Liberal Party of Canada from 2008 to 2011,” she said. “Thus he has a wealth of experience, both theoretical and practical, to draw upon in inaugurating a center devoted to the study of public and professional ethics.”

Named in 2005 by Foreign Policy and Prospect Magazine as one of the world’s 100 leading public intellectuals, Ignatieff is a Canadian writer, teacher and former politician. He holds a joint professorial appointment at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He has also taught at the University of British Columbia, Cambridge University and the London School of Economics.

In 2006, Ignatieff became a member of the Canadian House of Commons and went on to become deputy leader and, from 2008 through 2011, the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. The most recent of his 18 books, “Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics,” (2013) recounts his experiences in electoral office.

Among his previous volumes are “The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror” (2004) and “Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry” (2001). In Great Britain, where he lived for many years, Ignatieff hosted the television programs, “Voices on Channel Four” and “The Late Show” (a BBC arts program).

Ignatieff is a frequent contributor to The New York Times and The New York Review of Books. In September, he addressed President Barack Obama’s efforts to convince Congress to support air strikes in Syria in a New York Times piece titled “The Duty to Protect, Still Urgent.” He published “How to Save the Syrians” for The New York Review of Books, adapting the article from the Gareth Evans Lecture at the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect.

Educated at the University of Toronto, Harvard and Cambridge, Ignatieff holds 11 honorary degrees and has won such major awards as the Queen’s Jubilee Medal in 2012 and a MacArthur Foundation Grant in 2000, and was named a Chevalier of the Order of Academic Palms in France in 2003.

For additional information on the Mudd Center for Ethics, see go.wlu.edu/mudd-center. The inaugural lecture will be streamed live at http://new.livestream.com/wlu/mudd-inaugural-lecture.

Recent op-eds by Michael Ignatieff:

For Michael Ignatieff on Twitter at @M_Ignatieff