President of Ireland to deliver Chicago Harris leadership lecture May 12

Michael D. Higgins, president of Ireland, is coming to the University of Chicago on Monday, May 12 to discuss the future of positive political change and open dialogue in Ireland, and his new efforts to generate a national discourse around ethics. 

The event, cosponsored by the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, will begin at 11:45 a.m., Monday, May 12, at the Drake Hotel, 140 E. Walton Place. Higgins will deliver the King Abdullah II Leadership Lecture, Chicago Harris’ annual series that brings distinguished world leaders and leading experts to UChicago to discuss international affairs. The University community can view the event via webcast on YouTube.

The president of Ireland serves as head of state and is directly elected by the people. Inaugurated in November 2011, Higgins garnered far more votes than any Irish politician in the history of the republic. He previously served as Ireland’s first minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht from 1993 to 1997; he was responsible for promoting the Irish language, and economic and social development of Irish-speaking areas in the state. A founding member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs, he also was the Labour Party spokesperson for foreign affairs in the Irish Parliament, mayor of Galway on two occasions, a member of the Seanad (Senate) for nine years and Dáil Éireann (House of Representatives) for 25 years.

Higgins is a published writer and poet. Prior to his political career, he taught political science and sociology at the National University of Ireland, Galway, and in the United States. He studied at University College Galway, the University of Manchester and Indiana University. An active campaigner for human rights worldwide, he was the first recipient of the Seán MacBride Peace Prize from the International Peace Bureau in Helsinki in 1992.