Harvard professor, best-selling author to speak at convocation Aug. 31

College is a time of newfound independence, significant learning and, for many, an introduction to some of life’s more vexing struggles.

Students arriving on the campus of Case Western Reserve University this fall likely will face all of these challenges, which is why the university chose Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? by Harvard University professor Michael J. Sandel for its 2011 Common Reading.

Sandel will speak during Case Western Reserve’s Fall Convocation address at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 31, in Severance Hall. The event is free and open to the public but requires a ticket from the Severance Hall Box Office.

Fall convocation opens each academic year with an academic procession and a keynote speaker. It is open to university faculty, staff, students and friends.

All first-year students will have received Sandel’s book as summer reading so that they may engage in discussions with their peers when they arrive.

A political philosopher from Harvard, Sandel teaches much of what he has written in his book to the 15,000 students who have taken his popular “Justice” course. His course is Harvard’s first online offering and also has been broadcast via public television.

The author uses a wide range of real-life examples to illustrate the struggles humans face, such as affirmative action, bank bailouts, distribution of wealth and embryonic stem cell research.

“Michael Sandel has, for decades, been the leading philosopher advocating a return to practical philosophy, one that eschews reliance on comprehensive theories or right answers, or that demands the sacrifice of personal values for clear rules or comprehensive values,” said Lawrence Mitchell, dean of Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

Mitchell, who has met Sandel and read many of his books, said: “We can find true justice only if we assert and debate our moral and religious convictions with mutual respect and the common goal of creating a just society. Most important, Sandel shows us how engagement with traditional values can advance a progressive society better than avoidance of them can.”

Justice is just one of many works by Sandel. He is also the author of The Case Against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering; Democracy’s Discontent: America in Search of a Public Philosophy; Liberalism and the Limits of Justice; and Public Philosophy: Essays on Morality in Politics. His next book, What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Market, is due out next spring.

The public can reserve free tickets by contacting the Severance Hall box office at 216.231.1111 or online through Severance Hall’s box office website.

For additional information, visit case.edu/convocation or call the University Programs and Events office at 216.368.2229.