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Wednesday 29 Oct 2014

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Harvard University Professor Michael Sandel to give Radio 4's Reith Lectures 2009

Political philosopher and eminent Harvard University Professor, Michael Sandel, will give BBC Radio 4's Reith Lectures 2009 in June.

Professor Sandel's work has addressed issues such as democracy, ethics, public philosophy, and the erosion of community and moral values.

His lectures, entitled A New Citizenship, will cover "the prospect for a new politics of the common good".

Radio 4 Controller Mark Damazer said: "I am delighted that Professor Sandel will be giving this year's Reith lectures. His concerns – about economic behaviour and its relationship to community, the nature of social solidarity, the definition of justice and the allure and danger of the hunt for perfection – all resonate loudly.

"He is an academic of great distinction and I am sure his lectures will again underline the value of ideas and of dispassionate intellectual engagement with so many of the issues and dilemmas that lie behind the day to day debates and controversies that punctuate public life."

Outlining the subject matter for his lectures, Professor Michael Sandel said: "The Reith lectures have a storied tradition of engaging the life of the mind and the public square. At a time of political change and economic turmoil, we need new thinking about the common good: What, in an age of globalisation, are the moral limits of markets? What should be the place of moral and spiritual values in public life? How is biotechnology transforming our relation to nature and the environment?"

Professor Sandel added: "I am honoured to deliver the 2009 Reith Lectures, which I hope may prompt public discussion about the prospect for a new politics of the common good."

The Anne T and Robert M Bass Professor of Government at Harvard, Professor Sandel has taught political philosophy since 1980.

More than 14,000 students have enrolled in his undergraduate course, Justice, since it began and it is also the basis of a 12-part public television series to be aired this autumn in the United States.

He gave the Tanner Lectures on Human Values at Oxford University in 1998, has been a visiting professor at the Sorbonne (Paris), and recently delivered a series of seven lectures on political philosophy at major universities in China.

In his most recent book, The Case Against Perfection, Professor Sandel argues against the use of genetic engineering to create designer children, and suggests that the genetic revolution will force spiritual questions back onto the political agenda.

His new book, Justice: What We Owe One Another As Citizens, will be published in the autumn.

The lectures will be given in London on 18 May, Oxford on 21 May, Newcastle on 26 May and the final lecture will come from Washington DC in early June.

The Reith Lectures 2009 will be broadcast on Radio 4 and the BBC World Service in June 2009.

Notes to Editors

John Reith, the BBC's first Director-General, maintained that broadcasting should be a public service which enriches the intellectual and cultural life of the nation. It is in this spirit that the BBC each year invites a leading figure to deliver a series of lectures on radio. The aim is to advance public understanding and debate about significant issues of contemporary interest.

The Reith Lectures began in 1948. The very first Reith lecturer was the philosopher Bertrand Russell, who spoke on "Authority and the Individual".

Professor Sandel is the author of Liberalism And The Limits Of Justice (Cambridge University Press, 1982, 2nd edition, 1997), Democracy's Discontent (Harvard University Press, 1996), Public Philosophy: Essays On Morality In Politics (Harvard University Press, 2005), and The Case Against Perfection: Ethics In The Age Of Genetic Engineering (Harvard University Press, 2007).

His work been translated into Chinese, Japanese, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Greek, Polish and Korean. His writing also appears in publications such as The Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times and The New Republic.

From 2002 to 2005, Sandel served on the President's Council on Bioethics, a national body appointed by the President of the United States to advise the president and the public on the ethical implications of new biomedical technologies.

Professor Sandel has lectured widely in North America, Europe, China, Japan, India, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

The recipient of three honorary degrees, he has received fellowships from the Carnegie Corporation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ford Foundation, and the American Council of Learned Societies. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Council on Foreign Relations.

A summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brandeis University (1975), Sandel received his doctorate from Oxford University (D.Phil.,1981), where he was a Rhodes Scholar.


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