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Leaders from opposite ends of political spectrum to discuss meeting in the middle

Robert George and Cornel West will give April 7 Ubben lecture
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George (l) and West


Two prominent educators and intellectuals – Cornel West, an outspoken voice in progressive politics in the United States, and Robert P. George, who has been called America's “most influential conservative Christian thinker” – are coming to DePauw University Thursday, April 7, to discuss the nation’s partisan divide and offer ways of finding common ground. 

The Timothy and Sharon Ubben Lecture, “Embracing Civility: Finding Common Ground in Uncommonly Fractured Times,” is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in DePauw’s Kresge Auditorium, located in the Green Center for the Performing Arts. The lecture will be presented free of admission charge and is open to all. Seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis, and no tickets will be distributed.

In a poll released this month, the Georgetown University Institute of Politics and Public found that 43% of Americans believe that politics has become less civil in the past year and that voters continue to rank political division as one of the most important issues facing the country (21%), along with the rising cost of living (23%) and jobs and the economy (22%). The poll asked voters to rate on a scale of 0-100 the level of political division in America, with 100 being the highest level. The mean score was 70.36.   

West, a prominent and provocative intellectual, the Dietrich Bonhoeffer chair at Union Theological Seminary and professor emeritus at Princeton University. He taught at Union Theological Seminary, Yale and Harvard universities and the University of Paris. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in three years and obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. in philosophy at Princeton. He has written 20 books and edited 13, including “Democracy Matters,” “Race Matters” and “Black Prophetic Fire.” West has made several previous visits to DePauw and was the university’s 1996 commencement speaker. George is McCormick professor of jurisprudence and director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton. He has been a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, teaching philosophy of law and related subjects. He was chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, sat on the President’s Council on Bioethics, was a presidential appointee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and was the U.S. member of UNESCO’s World Commission on the Ethics of Science and Technology. He is a former judicial Fellow at the U.S. Supreme Court. His books include “Making Men Moral: Civil Liberties and Public Morality” and “Conscience and Its Enemies.” A graduate of Swarthmore College, George holds master’s and law degrees from Harvard and the degrees of DPhil, BCL, DCL and DLitt from Oxford University.

Together West and George received the inaugural Open Mind Award of Heterodox Academy for their leadership in scholarship and the movement to advance viewpoint diversity and reform American higher education.

Established in 1986 through the support of 1958 DePauw graduates Timothy H. and Sharon Williams Ubben, the lecture series was designed to bring the world to Greencastle. It has presented 116 events over 36 years. Previous Ubben lecturers have included Malala Yousafzai, Margaret Thatcher, Bill Clinton, Spike Lee, Mikhail Gorbachev, Jane Goodall, Tony Blair and Jimmy Kimmel.

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