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Honorary doctorates 2009

On the occasion of each lustrum, the University confers honorary doctorates on prominent individuals, both domestic and international, whose work and life have a significant bearing on Humanistic Studies. On 29 January 2009, at the ceremony to mark the 20th Dies Natalis of the University of Humanistic Studies, three honorary doctorates were conferred on:


Prof. Frans de Waal
Frans de Waal is professor of psychology at Emory University in Atlanta and director of the field station of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center. De Waal  gained worldwide acclaim for his research into primate behaviour. He sees our sense of morals, not as a thin layer of varnish hiding a brutish inner nature, but as having deep evolutionary roots.

Prof. Sarah Blaffer Hrdy
Sarah Blaffer Hrdy is a primatologist and anthropologist and emeritus professor at the University of California, Davis. Her work in the field of evolution theory is characterised as multi-disciplinary, inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary, and her feminist perspective with concomitant focus on human values makes her work highly relevant to the two central themes of Humanistic Studies: meanings of life and humanisation in human relations, organisations and society at large.

Prof. Patricia de Martelaere
Patricia de Martelaere was a Belgian philosopher and writer and a professor at the University of Leuven. She died in 2009. How she managed to connect philosophy and practical living is directly relevant to the study of meanings in life and humanisation, as pursued at the University of Humanistic Studies. Her approach throws existential aspects of life and death into sharp relief. She demonstrated how the University’s pretty motto, ‘The most beautiful study is the human being’, should not distract us from the pain and discomfort that often afflicts human life.

In 2009, honorary doctorates have been conferred on Prof. Frans de Waal, Prof. Sarah Blaffer Hrdy and Prof. Patricia de Martelaere.