Inaugural Worthington Lecture Series Brings Renowned Professor to Baylor

April 9, 2009

by Lauren Venegas, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805

The department of philosophy at Baylor University will present the Worthington Lectures, a new annual series that highlights the philosopher as a public intellectual. Dr. Nicholas Wolterstorff, the inaugural Worthington Lecturer, will interact with students, faculty and staff during lectures and workshops at various locations on the Baylor campus April 14-17. The lectures are free and open to the public.

Wolterstorff is The Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology at Yale University. He is a Fellow of Berkeley College, Yale University and Senior Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, at the University of Virginia.

"It is an honor to have Dr. Nicholas Wolterstorff because he is a philosopher who has a national and international reputation for the excellence of his work on a wide range of topics in epistemology, ethics, metaphysics, philosophy of religion and social and political philosophy," said Dr. Michael Beaty, chair of the department of philosophy at Baylor. "His stature as a philosopher and public intellectual, and his life-long effort to engage issues of public and philosophical consequence from a Christian perspective, make him an ideal choice as our first Worthington Lecturer."

A public intellectual has a highly regarded expertise or excellence in a particular discipline, one well-recognized by his or her peers, but who also writes to identify and to discuss public issues of significance. Ultimately, the public intellectual writes to encourage an educated and intellectually sophisticated citizenry not only to reflect on but to respond to public issues in a particular way. As a philosopher, he or she provides reasons for the conclusions drawn and the recommended responses.

If the public intellectual is a Christian philosopher, then he or she develops Christian perspectives on vital public issues while encouraging a respectful dialogue with people from other faiths and with those who have no religious faith, but who share a common concern about, for example, the environment, about the exploitation of other human beings economically, politically or sexually, or about the misuse of religion for political ends.

Wolterstorff's many honors include being named Wilde Lecturer, Oxford University, 1993-94; Gifford Lecturer, 1994-95; Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2006; and the Inaugural John Dewey Lecturer, American Philosophical Association (Central Division), May 2006.

He also is the author of 13 books, six pamphlets, 185 essays in professional journals or edited volumes, and over 130 essays in journals. The range of topics covered in his works include narrowly technical philosophical topics such as "On Referring and Existing" as well as topics of broad interest to an educated public, such as "On Caring about Justice," "Teaching Justly for Justice," and his most recent book Justice: Rights and Wrongs (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008).

"His published works include not only the academic community of scholars but lay people of the church and ordinary citizens of our pluralistic, democratic culture," Beaty said.

As Worthington Lecturer, Wolterstorff will meet with students, faculty and staff in a variety of settings from April 14-17. Thursday is devoted to his recent book, Justice: Rights and Wrongs and Friday is devoted to a book in progress, Justice in Love.

To begin each workshop, Wolterstorff will provide an overview of the book

and then a faculty member or graduate students will make a short presentation to initiate important conversations on some aspect of his book. The audience will be invited to participate by commenting or raising questions.

"Professor Wolterstorff's first topic is 'Speaking Up for the Wronged,'" Beaty said. "I hope that the audience not only are provided a framework that brings to our attention the importance of being concerned about those who are treated unjustly, both near and far, but prods us to action in concrete ways."

Beaty said that the series began because of the generosity of a 1994 Baylor alumnus, Dean Worthington, who majored in philosophy. He now has a MTS from Harvard University and he is president of East Carolina Development.

Inaugural Worthington Lecture Series

Tuesday, April 14:

4 p.m. Tea with undergraduates from Brooks College: Host, Dr. Doug Henry, Master of Brooks College "Why Justice Matters"

7:30 p.m. Public Lecture: "Speaking up for the Wronged," Cashion Seminar Room, 5th

Floor Cashion

Wednesday, April 15:

8 a.m. to 9:15 a.m.: Breakfast with Faculty/Staff who are reading Wolterstorff's book, Educating for Shalom: Essays on Christian Higher Education, McMullen Faculty Center

4:30 p.m. "Advice to Would-Be Christian Scholars," Host: Dr. Darin Davis, Interim

Director of the Institute for Faith and Learning, Alexander Reading Room

5:30 p.m. Reception, Alexander Reading Room

Thursday, April 16:

2 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.: Workshop on Justice: Rights and Wrongs Cashion, 5th floor Seminar Room

Overview of Justice: Rights and Wrongs Dr. Nicholas Wolterstorff

Respondents/Presenters: Graduate Students David Echelberger, Heidi Chamberlin, Mike Cantrell and Joel Schwartz

After each presentation, Wolterstorff will comment briefly, and questions will be taken from the floor.

Friday, April 17:

2:30 5:30 p.m.: Workshop on Justice in Love, Cashion, 5th floor Seminar Room

Overview of Justice in Love, Dr. Nicholas Wolterstorff

Respondent/Presenters: Dr. Stephen Evans, Dr. Alex Pruss and Dr. Todd Buras, Department of Philosophy.

After each presentation, Wolterstorff will comment briefly, and questions will be taken from the floor.

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