Acclaimed legal philosopher and constitutional and political theorist Robert P. George will receive the University of Notre Dame’s 2023 Evangelium Vitae Medal—the nation’s most important award for heroes of the pro-life movement—at a celebration hosted by the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture on April 29, 2023.
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George is the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Professor of Politics at Princeton University and the founding director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions.
"Robby George is a brilliant legal philosopher and one of the most eminent public intellectuals in America today," said O. Carter Snead, director of the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture. "Over more than 40 years of service as a professor, author, and mentor (including to me), George has been the most important and influential exponent of the philosophical argument for the intrinsic equal dignity of the unborn child, with a combination of intellectual excellence, civility, and aplomb that is simply not paralleled in his generation.”
University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. (himself a former classmate of George’s at Oxford), added, "Robby is admirable not just for his eloquent defense of life but for his commitment to respectful and civil dialogue, including with those with whom he strongly disagrees."
Professor George is a renowned teacher, having taught nearly eight thousand students, who have themselves gone on to distinguished careers as scholars, lawyers, judges, politicians, leaders of nonprofits, and journalists. “As a teacher, Professor George set the highest standards for intellectual rigor, moral courage, and devotion to truth and the common good while modeling a cheerful generosity toward every one of his intellectual opponents that often blossomed into genuine friendships,” said Notre Dame Law School Associate Professor Sherif Girgis, himself a former student of George’s at Princeton.
Professor George has authored, co-authored, or edited more than 13 books, including Embryo: A Defense of Human Life (2nd edition, Doubleday, 2011), In Defense of Natural Law (Oxford University Press, 1999), and Making Men Moral (Oxford University Press, 1993). His articles and essays have appeared in popular and scholarly journals, from the Harvard Law Review and the Yale Law Journal to the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, First Things, and the Times Literary Supplement. George has spoken throughout the United States and around the world on a wide range of issues in philosophy, law, and politics, including in honorific lectures at Harvard, Yale, University of St. Andrews, and Cornell University.
George has also had a long career of public service. He has served on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (2012–16), of which he was also chair (2013–16); the President's Council on Bioethics (2002–09); the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (1993–98); and as the U.S. member of UNESCO's World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (2008–12).
A graduate of Swarthmore College, Harvard Law School, and the University of Oxford, George has received honors and awards including the Presidential Citizens Medal, the Honorific Medal for the Defense of Human Rights of the Republic of Poland, the Canterbury Medal of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the Bradley Prize for Intellectual and Civic Achievement, the Irving Kristol Award of the American Enterprise Institute, and Princeton University’s President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching.
He holds honorary doctorates of law, ethics, science, letters, divinity, humanities, law and moral values, civil law, humane letters, and juridical science.
The Notre Dame Evangelium Vitae Medal, named after Pope John Paul II’s 1995 encyclical, is the nation’s most important lifetime achievement award for heroes of the pro-life movement, honoring individuals whose efforts have advanced the Gospel of Life by steadfastly affirming and defending the sanctity of human life from its earliest stages.
Previous recipients of the medal include Dr. John Bruchalski, founder of Tepeyac OB/GYN; Vicki Thorn, founder of Project Rachel post-abortion healing ministry; the Women’s Care Center Foundation; Mother Agnes Mary Donovan and the Sisters of Life; Congressman Chris Smith, co-chair of the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, and his wife, Marie Smith, director of the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues; Supreme Knight Carl Anderson and the Knights of Columbus; the Little Sisters of the Poor; the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation; and Mary Ann Glendon, Harvard Law School professor emerita.
Announced annually on Respect Life Sunday, the first Sunday of October, the Notre Dame Evangelium Vitae award consists of a specially commissioned medal and $10,000 prize presented at a banquet following a celebratory Mass in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. For more information about the Evangelium Vitae Medal, visit https://ethicscenter.nd.edu/programs/culture-of-life/evangelium-vitae-medal/.
The de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture is the leading center for scholarly reflection within the Catholic moral and intellectual tradition. The center is committed to sharing the richness of this tradition through teaching, research and dialogue, at the highest level and across a range of disciplines.