Philosopher Martha Nussbaum is 2018 Commencement Speaker

April 11, 2018

Dr. Martha Nussbaum, the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, an appointment across the The University of Chicago’s philosophy department and Law School, will deliver the 2018 commencement address at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 at 10:30 a.m.

“Dr. Nussbaum is a scholar whose writings about the good of humanity, morality, and citizenship are powerful examples for our students as they embark on their next stage of life,” said Laura Sparks, president of The Cooper Union. “Our current political landscape has been fraught, leading to unprecedented calls for social action and change. Dr. Nussbaum’s ethical look at the roles of anger and forgiveness in politics and her ideas for anger’s productive uses through thoughtful protest, social action, and healthy debate are important messages for everyone.”

“I've long admired the values of inclusion, justice, and excellence for which The Cooper Union stands, and it will be a great pleasure to address the many superb and dedicated graduates,” said Dr. Nussbaum. “I'm excited and deeply honored to be this year’s commencement speaker.”

Dr. Nussbaum is also an associate in the classics and political science departments and the Divinity School, a member of the Committee on Southern Asian Studies, and a board member of the Human Rights Program at The University of Chicago. She has taught at Harvard, Brown, and Oxford Universities. For her lifetime of work in the humanities, Dr. Nussbaum has received several awards including the American Philosophical Association's Philip Quinn Prize (2015), the Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy (2016), and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Don M. Randel Award for Achievement in the Humanities (2018). She gave the National Endowment for the Humanities’ 2017 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, the highest honor the federal government bestows for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities. The author of more than 20 books, including Sex and Social Justice which won the North American Society for Social Philosophy’s book award and Hiding From Humanity which won the Association of American University Publishers Professional and Scholarly Book Award for Law in 2004, she received her BA from New York University and her MA and PhD from Harvard.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.