Chinese civil rights activist to give Notre Dame’s 2015 Human Dignity Lecture

Author: Michael O. Garvey

Chen Guangcheng Chen Guangcheng

Chinese civil rights activist and former political prisoner Chen Guangcheng will give the University of Notre Dame’s 2015 Human Dignity Lecture at 7:30 p.m. April 7 (Tuesday) in the McKenna Hall Auditorium.

Chen’s lecture, “Interpreting Reform: Human Dignity and Human Rights in Contemporary China,” is sponsored by Notre Dame’s Institute for Church Life (ICL) as one of its Human Dignity Lecture series.

Chen, a lawyer who has been blind since childhood, escaped from nearly two years of house arrest in 2012 and, aided by fellow Chinese activists, fled to the United States embassy in Beijing. His long detention had riveted the attention of global media whose coverage aided in his eventual escape.

In 2007, Chen was named one of Time Magazine’s annual list of individuals lauded for their moral example. He was a visiting scholar at New York University before being named a Distinguished Visiting Fellow of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America. He continues to campaign against human rights violations in his home country.

Chen’s lecture will concern a pattern of human rights abuses by the Chinese government, including the jailing and torture of religious figures and political dissidents, forced seizure of land and the government’s rigid control of the media that prevents many cases of abuse and injustice from becoming publicly known.

Notre Dame’s Human Dignity Lecture annually brings prominent advocates of human dignity to speak on topics pertinent to a cultural conversation on the subject. Previous lecturers include New York’s archbishop, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan; Rev. Gustavo Gutiérrez, O.P., Notre Dame’s John Cardinal O’Hara Professor of Theology; and Martin Horn, executive director of the New York State Sentencing Commission and Distinguished Lecturer in Corrections at the John Jay College of City University of New York.

Chen’s lecture is co-sponsored by the Center for Civil and Human Rights, the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, the Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies, the Center for Ethics and Culture and the Center for Social Concerns.

Contact: Brett Robinson, ICL communication director, 574-631-6109,