Human Choice in a Hyper-Technological Age:
How we can keep our wits about us in the world of medicine and beyond
Danielle Allen, James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University, and Director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, is a political theorist who has published broadly in democratic theory, political sociology, and the history of political thought. Widely known for her work on justice and citizenship in both ancient Athens and modern America, Allen is the author of The World of Prometheus: The Politics of Punishing in Democratic Athens (2000), Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship since Brown vs. the Board of Education (2004), Why Plato Wrote (2010), Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality (2014), Education and Equality (2016), and Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A. (2017). She is the coeditor of the award-winning Education, Justice, and Democracy (2013, with Rob Reich) and From Voice to Influence: Understanding Citizenship in the Digital Age (2015, with Jennifer Light). She is a former chair of the Mellon Foundation Board, past chair of the Pulitzer Prize Board, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.
Allen is also the principal investigator for the Democratic Knowledge Project, a distributed research and action lab at Harvard University. The Democratic Knowledge Project seeks to identify, strengthen, and disseminate the bodies of knowledge, skills, and capacities that democratic citizens need in order to succeed at operating their democracy. The lab currently has three projects underway: the Declaration Resources Project, the Humanities and Liberal Arts Assessment Project (HULA), and the Youth and Participatory Politics Action and Reflection Frame.
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. Gay gave Harvard the fund to provide an annual income to support lectures “to the advanced, or graduating classes in the Medical School upon Medical Ethics, and upon wise and proper methods of conducting the business of physicians, as relates to fees, collections, investments, etc.” The Gay Lectureship perpetuates his deep concern for the welfare of his patients and his appreciation of the constantly arising social and economic forces that impinge on medical care.
Since its inception, many of the nation's most influential physicians, scientists, researchers and social observers, have given the annual lecture. Past lecturers include 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.
See details and photos from the 2018 Gay Lecture delivered by K. Anthony Appiah.
See details and photos from the 2017 Gay Lecture delivered by Michael Sandel.