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UVU, BYU host human rights symposium April 12-14

A symposium titled “God and Human Rights: Are Faith or Foundations Necessary?” will be held Monday-Wednesday, April 12-14, at Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University.

The symposium will address the question of whether God, religion or natural foundations are necessary for human rights to make sense and whether human beings may assert their dignity apart from such foundations, said symposium co-organizer Ralph Hancock, professor of political science at BYU.

“This symposium will address compelling contemporary issues in a way that combines philosophical depth with openness to religious concerns,” he said. “It will also bring together practitioners and scholars, international figures and local talent, from both the BYU and UVU educational communities. This will be a landmark event for higher education and ethical reflection in Utah Valley."

The symposium’s distinguished speakers and participants will include:

• David Walsh, professor of politics at the Catholic University of America and author of several books, including “The Growth of the Liberal Soul,” “The End of Ideology: Recovering the Spiritual Foundations of Freedom” and “The Modern Philosophical Revolution: The Luminosity of Existence”;

• Martin Palous, Czech ambassador to the United Nations, a signer of Charter 77 and activist for democratic reforms in what was then Soviet-dominated Czechoslovakia;

• Matthew S. Holland, president, Utah Valley University;

• Scott Yenor, Boise State University;

• Ivan Kenneally, Rochester Institute of Technology; and

• Bruce Landesman, University of Utah.

“The symposium is noteworthy not only because of the stellar guests, and the important questions being explored but perhaps especially because of the opportunity to have someone here, Ambassador Palous, who was a part of that courageous group of people, who with Vaclav Havel, for example, worked from the inside out to defeat totalitarianism by building democratic and human civil society,” said co-organizer Michael Minch, director of the Peace and Justice Studies at UVU and chair of the Philosophy and Humanities Department.

The symposium is sponsored by the Political Science Department, the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies, the Richard L. Evans Chair of Religious Understanding, the College of Family, Home and Social Sciences, the College of Humanities and the Department of Political Science at BYU as well as the Peace and Justice Studies, Religious Studies, and Honors programs and the Office of International Diplomacy at UVU.

For more information, including the symposium schedule, contact Ralph Hancock at or Michael Minch at, (801) 863-7482.

Writer: Lee Simons

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