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February 15, 2012

One of world’s ‘most powerful thinkers’ to present talk, meet with students

Kwame AppiahNamed by Forbes magazine in 2009 as one of the world’s seven most powerful thinkers, Kwame Anthony Appiah, a recipient of the National Humanites Medal, will visit the University from Feb. 21 to 24 to lecture and participate in workshops and group discussions with the campus community.

On Thursday, Feb. 23, Appiah will give a public lecture in the Hawkins-Carlson Room in Rush Rhees Library at 4 p.m. titled “Islam and the West.” The talk is free and open to the public.

Appiah is the Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy and director of the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. He also serves as president of the PEN American Center, a writers’ organization devoted to advancing free expression and global literary fellowship, and is chair of the Board of the American Council of Learned Societies. He is the author of several books, including In My Father’s House, The Ethics of Identity, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers, and The Honor Code.

Appiah’s visit is part of a new program established by President Joel Seligman to bring distinguished visiting scholars and creative artists in the humanities and humanistic social sciences to the University each year.

“Professor Appiah’s work spans the humanities to explore questions about identity, ethics, and race in our increasingly globalized world. He will have a wide appeal to students and faculty across the disciplines of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering and beyond,” says Thomas DiPiero, dean for humanities and interdisciplinary studies.

While on campus, Appiah will meet with faculty and students from across the University, including the Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies, the Undergraduate Philosophy Council, and reading groups of faculty and graduate students to discuss particular aspects of his work.

“The fact that so many people can hear him speak and have numerous opportunities to interact, consult, and collaborate intellectually with him has generated a lot of excitement on campus,” says Cilas Kemedjio, director of the Frederick Douglass Institute. “Having lived on three continents, he is able to examine ethical issues across religions, cultures, and races.” 

Maya Dukmasova ’12, president of the Undergraduate Philosophy Council, says Appiah’s visit is the “most exciting” event the club has been involved with during her five years of membership.

“I think it’s important because it’s giving a chance for students to speak with someone of such intellectual stature, but also because it’s an occasion for all of us to expand our philosophical knowledge,” she says.

For more information on Appiah’s upcoming visit, see

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