Jessica Oswald examines a bird fossil at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus. Oswald used the Florida Museum’s more than 24,000 skeletal bird specimens to identify the Mexican fossils discovered in Terapa, about 150 miles south of Arizona.
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Bob Graham Center Hosts Renowned Political Philosopher Michael Sandel

Author and Harvard University professor Michael Sandel brings his unique approach to examining the most hotly contested moral and political issues of our times to the University of Florida’s Bob Graham Center for Public Service March 22.

Sandel, the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government at Harvard, teaches one of the most popular undergraduate courses on campus called Justice. His latest book, Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? was drawn from material generated by that class and was also the subject of a popular Public Broadcasting Service series. This event will begin at 6 p.m. in Pugh Hall’s Ocora. This event is free and open to the public, and free parking is available.

Sandel has lectured widely throughout North America, Europe and Asia on topics such as democracy, liberalism, bioethics, globalization and justice. He has delivered prize-winning lectures at Oxford University and the Sorbonne, where he was a visiting professor. He has served on the President's Council on Bioethics and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Council on Foreign Relations.

The British Guardian newspaper called Sandel “one of the world's most interesting political philosophers. Politicians and commentators tend to ask two questions of policy: will it make voters better off, and will it affect their liberty? Sandel rightly points out the shallowness of that debate and adds a third criterion: how will it affect the common good?”

Sandel does this not by citing dry tomes and largely unread moral philosophers, but by news stories. He is well known for being intensely engaged with the most pressing issues in domestic and foreign affairs as well as in economics and education.

The driving idea behind his work, Sandel says, “is to invite students, and in the case of the book, readers, to reflect critically on their own moral and political assumptions to figure out what they believe and why.”

He adds: “And there’s something exhilarating, even intoxicating, and slightly dangerous about that, because we read the famous philosophers, but what the students quickly realize is that this is a journey in self-exploration, self-understanding, figuring out what they really believe on big questions of moral and political philosophy.”

One of his foremost concerns, and the subject of another popular Harvard course, is globalization, particularly its effects on democracy. “The progressive case for democratic governance was muted and obscured and lost during the 1990s,” Sandel said in a recent interview.

The Bob Graham Center for Public Service is a community of students, scholars and politically engaged citizens, devoted to enhanced citizenship; the training of current and future public and civic leaders who can identify problems and spearhead change; and the development of policy on issues of importance to Florida, the United States and the global community.

Credits

Writer

Vicki Gervickas, vgervickas@ufl.edu, 352-846-1575

Photo

Coutesy Harvard University

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