Commonwealth Humanities Lecture

Beginning in 2004, in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth (MassINC), a widely respected non-partisan think tank and publisher of CommonWealth magazine, the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities recognized a humanities scholar or writer for his or her contributions to public understanding of contemporary issues or civic affairs in Massachusetts. The scholar selected for this honor delivered an original and substantive address at a public event at the National Heritage Museum in Lexington.  The lectureship carried a $5000 award.


Orlando Patterson
Ordinary Liberties

Orlando Patterson will present the 2007 Commonwealth Humanities Lecture on Thursday, March 29, at the National Heritage Museum in Lexington at 7:30 p.m.  Patterson is the John Cowles Professor of Sociology at Harvard University and the award-winning author of groundbreaking works in the sociology of freedom including Freedom in the Making of Western Culture, The Ordeal of Integration, and Rituals of Blood. A frequent contributor to the New York Times op-ed page, he has also written three novels and numerous anthologized short stories and critical essays.

Sissela Bok
The Burden of Deceit in Public Life

Sissela Bok is the author of several important and widely read books in applied ethics including Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life (1978), Secrets: On the Ethics of Concealment and Revelation (1982), A Strategy for Peace: Human Values and the Threat of War (1989), and Common Values (1995). In her lecture, entitled “The Burden of Deceit in Public Life,” Bok explores “the moral questions regarding deception and lying that have been the focus of recent controversies in journalism and government; and consider how ignorance, self-deception, and secrecy contribute to the damage inflicted on society by deceit in public life.”  Download Bok`s lecture (pdf file).

Ilan Stavans
This Land Is Our Land: The Challenge of Diversity in Massachusetts

Ilan Stavans is Lewis-Sebring Professor of Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College. Professor Stavans has written several canonical works, including Growing up Latino (1993, in its thirteenth printing) and The Hispanic Condition (1995). Download Stavans lecture (pdf file).

Michael J. Sandel
Are We Still a Commonwealth? Markets, Morals and Civic Life

Michael J. Sandel, Ann T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government at Harvard University. Sandel`s publications include Democracy`s Discontent: America in Search of a Public Philosophy (Harvard University Press, 1996) Liberalism and the Limits of Justice (Cambridge University Press, 1982, 1997) and Liberalism and Its Critics (ed., Basil Blackwell, 1984). His writings have also appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times, and The New Republic. Download Sandel`s lecture (pdf file).