The 18th Annual Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., Lecture in Ethics and Public Policy


Location: DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, Leighton Concert Hall

Amartya Sen, Thomas W. Lamont University Professor and Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University; a Distinguished Fellow of All Souls College; a trustee of Economists for Peace and Security; and winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economics

Sen is best known for his commitment to addressing the challenges faced by the world’s poorest people. After a childhood encounter with famine victims in West Bengal, India (now part of Bangladesh), he has spent a lifetime fighting poverty through research, analysis, and advocacy of human development informed by an ethical dimension.

One of Sen’s best known works, Development as Freedom (1999), argues that people cannot lift themselves out of poverty unless they have political freedom, civil rights, economic opportunities, access to health care and education, and “protective security,” including unemployment benefits, famine, and emergency relief.

In a highly influential essay published in 1990 in The New York Review of Books and expanded upon in his subsequent academic work, Sen estimated that more than 100 million Asian women were "missing"—eliminated through sex-selective abortion, infanticide, or inadequate nutrition during infancy.

In recent years, Sen has turned his attention to questions of justice and peace and their relationship to his approach to development. His 2006 book Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny explores the complex interaction of plural identities and inter-group violence. In 2009, he published The Idea of Justice, in which he develops a theory of justice that seeks to be more relevant to practical concerns than other current approaches.

Sen studied at Presidency College in Calcutta, India, and at Trinity College, Cambridge, before serving as a professor of economics at Delhi University and at the London School of Economics. He later served as the Drummond Professor of Political Economy at Oxford University and as a fellow of All Souls College.

In 2010, Time magazine listed Sen as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, and New Statesman listed him as one of the world’s 50 most influential people who matter. He holds more than 90 honorary degrees from universities around the world, and his books have been translated into more than 30 languages.

This event is free, but ticketed. Visit the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies website for ticket information.

The annual Hesburgh Lecture in Ethics and Public Policy, established by the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies in 1995, honors the Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., president emeritus of Notre Dame, a global champion of peace and justice, and the founder of the Kroc Institute.