Honorary doctorates 2014
Prof. Amartya Sen (Harvard University) is an internationally renowned intellectual and recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economics. His collective work has been highly inspirational and relevant to the ongoing development of Humanistic Studies. Sen is characteristically optimistic about the human condition and motivated by deep personal and professional concerns about democracy, justice, poverty and inequality across the world.
His interdisciplinary scholarly work spans many fields in social choice theory, economics, public health, gender studies and moral and political philosophy. He significantly influenced many governments and international organisations, including the United Nations. His well-known Capability Approach focuses on the moral significance of individuals’ capability to achieve the kind of lives they have reason to value.
A strong acknowledgment of human diversity is one of the key theoretical driving forces in his work and he believes that normative approaches should acknowledge the full human diversity and include the concerns of marginalised people. Sen supports Enlightenment values such as reason, justice and liberty, but believes that they are part of a common heritage of humanity and resists the idea that these values are necessarily tied to Western thought.
Prof. Carol Ryff (University of Wisconsin) has developed a theory of psychological well-being which comprises elements that are also part of the concept of meaning in life. This theory of well-being is used in a large body of multidisciplinary empirical research on well-being, (bio-psychosocial) health, resilience and optimal aging. An important research project led by Prof. Ryff is MIDUS, a longitudinal study following behavioural, psychological, social and biological aging of U.S. adults and elderly.
Prof. Joan Tronto (University of Minnesota) has developed an ethics of care which tries to remedy some of the shortcomings of well-known ethical theories. Her interdisciplinary concept of care not only refers to health care but conceives of care as a political concept linked to the very core of democracy: caring is construing living together in an ordered way. Her concept of care corrects a gender bias in care theories by stressing the fact that all human beings are both care-givers and care-takers.
In 2014, honorary doctorates have been conferred on Prof. Amartya Sen, Prof. Carol Ryff and Prof. Joan Tronto.