2017 George W. Gay Lecturer

Michael J. Sandel, Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government Theory, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University

Michael Sandel teaches political philosophy at Harvard University. His writings—on justice, ethics, democracy, and markets--have been translated into 27 languages. His course “Justice” is the first Harvard course to be made freely available online and on television.  It has been viewed by tens of millions of people around the world, including in China, where Sandel was named the “most influential foreign figure of the year.” (China Newsweek)

Sandel’s books relate enduring themes of political philosophy to the most vexing moral and civic questions of our time.  They include What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets;  Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?;  The Case against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering;  Public Philosophy: Essays on Morality in Politics;  Democracy’s Discontent: America in Search of a Public Philosophy; and Liberalism and the Limits of Justice. 

Sandel has been a visiting professor at the Sorbonne, and delivered the Tanner Lectures on Human Values at Oxford, the BBC’s Reith Lectures, and the Kellogg Lecture on Jurisprudence at the U.S. Library of Congress.  In 2016, East China Normal University (Shanghai) convened an international conference to explore points of contact between Sandel’s work and the Confucian tradition.

Sandel has sought to extend the reach of philosophy beyond the academy. His BBC Radio 4 series “The Public Philosopher” explores the philosophical ideas lying behind the headlines with audiences around the world; one program, a discussion of violence against women, was recorded in India, following a notorious rape incident in New Delhi. Another took place in Britain’s Palace of Westminster, where Sandel led a debate about democracy with members of Parliament and the public.  In Brazil, he recently led a debate on corruption and the ethics of everyday life that reached an audience of 19 million on Globo TV.  In Japan, his series on ethics for NHK, Japan’s national television network, convened students from China, Japan, and South Korea to discuss whether moral responsibility for historic wrongs extends across generations.

Sandel has been a pioneer in the use of new technology to promote global public discourse.  In a new BBC series, “The Global Philosopher,” Sandel leads video-linked discussions with participants from over 30 countries on the ethical aspects of issues such as immigration and climate change. 

In the U.S., Sandel has served on the President's Council on Bioethics and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. A graduate of Brandeis University, he received his doctorate from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.

Sandel’s global lectures have taken him across five continents and packed venues such as St. Paul’s Cathedral (London), the Sydney Opera House (Australia), the Public Theater in New York’s Central Park, and an outdoor stadium in Seoul (S. Korea), where 14,000 people came to hear him speak. 

Save the Date

When: October, 26, 2017, 4:30-6:00pm

Where: TBA


The George W. Gay Lecture is the oldest endowed lectureship at Harvard Medical School, and quite possibly the oldest medical ethics lectureship in the United States. The lectureship was established in 1917 by a $1,000 gift from Dr. George Washington Gay, an 1868 graduate of HMS. Since its inception, many of the nation's most influential physicians, scientists, researchers and social observers, including Erich Fromm, Felix Frankfurter, Margaret Mead, Elizabeth Kübler Ross, E.O. Wilson, and Joshua Lederberg have given the Gay Lecture. Elie Wiesel, Marian Wright Edelman, Paul Krugman, Nicholas Kristof and Donald Berwick have given recent Gay Lectures.


Past George W. Gay Lecturers

1922
Dr. John Bapst Blake, Assistant Professor of Surgery, Harvard University
1923
Dr. George W. Gay
1924
Dr. Walter P. Bowers, Managing Editor, Boston Medical and Surgical Journal
1926
Dr. George G. Sears, Clinical Prof. of Medicine, Emeritus, Harvard University
1927
Dr. Francis Weld Peabody, Professor of Medicine, Harvard University
1930
Dr. Samuel B. Woodward, past President, Massachusetts Medical Society
1931
Dr. John M. Birnie, Secretary, New England Medical Society
1932
Dr. Roger I. Lee, Professor of Hygiene, Harvard University
1933
Dr. Robert B. Osgood, Professor Orthopedic Surgery, Harvard University
Dr. Elliott P. Joslin, Clinical Professor of Medicine, Harvard University
1934
Dr. Arthur H. Ruggles, Superintendent, Butler Hospital, Providence, RI
Dr. John Homans, Clinical Professor of Surgery, Harvard University
Dr. Joseph H. Pratt, Professor of Clinical Medicine, Tufts College
1935
Dr. James B. Herrick, Professor of Medicine, Emeritus, Rush Medical College
1937
Dr. Lawrence K. Lunt, Psychiatrist (Boston, Massachusetts)
Dr. O.H. Perry Pepper, Professor of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
1938
Mr. Henry L. Shattuck, Treasurer, Harvard University
Dr. Reginald Fitz, Lecturer on The History of Medicine, Harvard University
Dr. Elton Mayo, Professor of Industrial Research, Harvard University
1939
Dr. Eliot Wadsworth, President, Boston Chamber of Commerce
Dr. Robert L. DeNormandie, Comm. on Ethics & Discipline, Mass. Med. Soc.
Dr. Donald Guthrie, Assoc. Prof. of Surgery, Univ. of Penn. School of Med.
1940
Mr. Phillips Ketchum, Partner, Herrick, Smith, Donald, Farley & Ketchum
1941
Dr. Charles R. Austrian, Assoc. Professor of Medicine, Johns Hopkins Univ.
Dr. David Cheever, Associate Professor of Surgery, Emeritus, Harvard Univ.
Dr. T. Grier Miller, Professor of Clinical Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
1945
Mr. Ben Amers Williams, Author
1954
Dr. Hugh J. Morgan, Professor of Medicine, Vanderbilt University
1955
The Rev. George A. Buttrick, Professor of Christian Morals, Harvard Univ.
1956
The Rev. Douglas Horton, Professor of Theology, Harvard University
1957
Dr. Erich Fromm, Professor of Psychoanalysis, National University of Mexico
1958
The Honorable Felix Frankfurter, Associate Justice, US Supreme Court
1959
Dr. James Howard Means, Professor of Medicine, Emeritus, Harvard University
1960
Dr. Margaret Mead, Adjunct Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University
1961
Dr. Ralph Johnson Bunche, Under Secretary for Special Political Affairs, U.N.
1962
Mr. Erik Erikson, Prof. of Human Development, Lecturer Psych., Harvard Univ.
1963
Dr. Herman Ludwig Blumgart, Prof. of Medicine, Emeritus, Harvard University
1965
Dr. Paul Freund, Carl M. Loeb University Professor, Harvard University
1970
Dr. I Bernard Cohen, Professor of The History of Science, Harvard University
1973
Dr. Elizabeth Kübler Ross, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Univ. of Chicago
1976
Dr. Robert J. Lifton, Foundations Fund of Research, Yale University
1977
Dr. Franz J. Ingelfinger, Editor, New England Journal of Medicine
1978
Dr. Kenneth J. Ryan, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Harvard Univ.
1979
Dr. Carleton B. Chapman, President, The Commonwealth Fund
1980
Dr. Edward O. Wilson, Professor of Science, Harvard University
1981
Arnold S. Relman, M.D., Prof. of Medicine, HMS; Editor, NEJM
1982
The Rev. Robert F. Drinan, SJ, U.S. Congress; Georgetown Univ. Law Ctr.
1983
Joshua Lederberg, Ph.D., President, The Rockefeller University
1984
Uwe E. Reinhardt, Ph.D., Prof. Economics and Public Affairs, Princeton Univ.
1985
Dr. Julian Tudor Hart, Glyncorrwg Health Center, West Galmorgan, Wales
1986
Baroness Mary Warnock, Mistress, Girton College, Cambridge, England
1987
Dennis Thompson, Ph.D., Dir. Pgm. in Ethics and Professions, Harvard Univ.
1988
Albert Jonsen, Ph.D., Chair, Medical History and Ethics, Univ. of Washington
1991
Arnold S. Relman, M.D., Prof. of Medicine, HMS; Editor, NEJM
1992
Larry R. Churchill, Chair, Social Medicine, Univ. N. Carolina School of Med.
1993
Bernadine Healy, M.D., Director, National Institutes of Health
1994
Robert Lawrence, M.D., Director, Health Sciences, Rockefeller Foundation
1995
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Ph.D. Chair, Afro-American Studies Dept., Harvard Univ.
1996
Sissela Bok, Ph.D., Fellow, Harvard Center for Population and Development
1997
Daniel Callahan, Ph.D., Founder, The Hastings Center
1998
Daniel D. Federman, M.D., Dean for Medical Education, Harvard Medical School
1998
Elie Wiesel, Mellon Professor of The Humanities, Boston University
1999
Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President, The Children’s Defense Fund
2001
Dame Cicely Saunders, St. Christopher’s Hospice, London
2002
Rashi Fein, Ph.D., Professor of The Economics of Medicine, Emeritus, HMS
2004
Howard Gardner, Ph.D., Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education
2005
Jerome P. Kassirer, M.D., Editor-in-Chief, Emeritus, New England Journal of Medicine
2006
Paul Farmer, M.D., Ph.D., Co-Founder, Partners in Health
2008
Harvey V. Fineberg, M.D., Ph.D., President of the Institute of Medicine
2009
Paul R. Krugman, Ph.D., Professor of Economics and International Affairs, Princeton University
2010
Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times op-ed columnist, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner
2012
Donald M. Berwick, M.D., M.P.P., F.R.C.P., Former Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
2013
Dan W. Brock, Ph.D., Frances Glessner Lee Professor of Medical Ethics, HMS
2014
Cass R. Sunstein, JD, Robert Walmsley University Professor, Harvard Law School
2015
2016
Martha Minnow, Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
2017
Michael Sandel, Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government Theory, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University