The leading center for scholarly reflection within the Catholic moral and intellectual tradition
"Mother Teresa said that 'if we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.' That’s all too true of America today. A global pandemic has upended our lives. Racial unrest convulses our cities. And our politics have devolved into blood sport, as toxic as it is tribal," wrote de Nicola Center Director O. Carter Snead in an op-ed published in the New York Post on October 12.
"We have indeed forgotten who we are and what we owe to one another. We desperately need to remember. To do that, we need a better anthropology."
Professor O. Carter Snead’s new book, What It Means to Be Human: The Case for the Body in Public Bioethics is now available from Harvard University Press.
Snead is a professor of law at Notre Dame Law School and director of the University of Notre Dame’s de Nicola Center for Ethics & Culture. He is one of the world’s leading experts on public bioethics — the governance of science, medicine, and biotechnology in the name of ethical goods.
What It Means to Be Human promises to propose “a vision of human identity and flourishing that supports those who are profoundly vulnerable and dependent — children, the disabled, and the elderly” and to analyze how that vision would affect three of the most complex issues in bioethics: abortion, assisted reproductive technology, and end-of-life decisions.
After a towering 25-year career in law teaching and legal scholarship at Notre Dame Law School, Biolchini Family Professor of Law John M. Finnis has decided to retire. Finnis will continue to serve as Permanent Senior Distinguished Research Fellow of the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture.
An internationally recognized scholar and philosopher, Finnis came to Notre Dame in 1995 from Oxford University, where he was a chaired professor of law and legal philosophy and a member of the philosophy subfaculty. At Notre Dame Law School, he is revered as much for his generous spirit as for his wide-ranging and groundbreaking work.
dCEC Director (and Notre Dame Law Professor) Carter Snead said, “John has been incredibly generous with the de Nicola Center, regularly speaking at our events, mentoring our undergraduate, graduate and law student Sorin Fellows, and providing sage advice. I feel personally blessed by his friendship and mentorship during my time at Notre Dame. We will miss having John over each semester for dinner in our home and pouring his favorite Australian wines!”
It is with a heavy heart that the de Nicola Center announces the cancellation of our 2020 Fall Conference, originally scheduled to take place November 12–14 at the University of Notre Dame.
In light of the ongoing pandemic, the University has taken a number of precautions to protect the health and safety of the Notre Dame community, implementing restrictions on travel, large gatherings, and external guests. These policies ultimately preclude our hosting the Fall Conference in any meaningful way; certainly, they would make impossible the exchange with scholars and students from across the country and around the world, as well as the community-building with friends old and new, that are highlights of the conference every year.
Though we cannot gather in person this fall, the de Nicola Center plans to host an online event in the spirit of the Fall Conference the first week of December 2020. More details regarding that event will be forthcoming; be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive updates about those developments.
In hindsight, it feels fortuitous that our 2019 Fall Conference was organized around the theme of friendship, for it is certainly the memory of that community and the abiding friendship shared with each of you that sustain us through this difficult time apart. We will continue to treasure those friendships and find new ways to nourish them until we can be together once more.
The de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture presented the 2020 Notre Dame Vita Institute, its annual intellectual formation program for pro-life leaders, as a series of five free webinars the week of June 15–19, 2020.
The dCEC's annual Vita Institute normally brings together leaders in the national and international pro-life movement for a week each summer at Notre Dame for an intensive interdisciplinary training program that extends and deepens their breadth and depth of understanding of the subjects most essential to building a culture of life, including biology, philosophy, law, theology, and social sciences. This year’s online webinar series allowed a wider audience to sample the exceptional teaching of the traditional on-campus event.
For more information and view the videos from the webinar series, visit this event page.
In Memoriam: Madame Birthe Lejeune (1928–2020)
The de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture mourns the death of Madame Birthe Lejeune, who died of complications of cancer on May 6, 2020. Madame Lejeune was preceded in death by her husband, Professor Jérôme Lejeune, who in 1958 assisted by Marthe Gautier discovered the genetic cause of Down syndrome. The professor spent the rest of his life in search of a cure for the anomaly, as well as defending the dignity and rights of all persons with genetic intellectual disabilities. Following the professor's death, in 1996 the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation was established to carry on the professor’s commitment to research, care, and advocacy on behalf of persons with genetic intellectual disabilities throughout the world.
The de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture awarded the 2017 Notre Dame Evangelium Vitae Medal to the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation at a Mass and banquet on April 29, 2017, attended by more than 400 guests, including persons with Down syndrome and other genetic disorders and their families. Upon receiving the medal on behalf of the Foundation, the diminutive Madame Lejeune addressed her remarks to the guests with Down syndrome, telling them, "You are my husband's beloved 'little ones.' Thank you for being you!"
May Madame Birthe Lejeune, and all the souls of the faithful departed, rest in peace.
Support the de Nicola Center's Mission
All of our work at the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture is aimed at one goal: to share the richness of the Catholic moral and intellectual tradition through teaching, research, and dialogue, at the highest level and across a range of disciplines. In so doing, we enrich Notre Dame’s distinctive intellectual ecology—and we bring the university’s voice into the academic and public conversations concerning the most vital and complex matters of ethics, literature, art, music, social sciences, philosophy, theology, history, political theory, applied and theoretical science, public policy, and law. For more information on how to support the work of the de Nicola Center, visit our support page.
Ethics and Culture Cast
Our podcast features lively conversations with fellows, scholars, and friends of the de Nicola Center. Episodes released every other Thursday during the academic year. Suggestions and feedback welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.