President Michael D. Higgins will speak as part of Fordham’s Humanitarian Lecture Series

New York, New York, Sept. 17—Fordham University will host Michael D. Higgins, president of Ireland, on Monday, Sept. 30. He will speak at the Lincoln Center campus at 11 a.m.

President Higgins, who has campaigned for human rights, peace, democracy, equality, and justice throughout his years as a political leader, will deliver a talk on “Humanitarianism and the Public Intellectual in Times of Crisis” as part of the Ireland at Fordham Humanitarian Lecture Series, a partnership between the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations and Fordham’s Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs.

In his address, President Higgins is expected to focus on the impact of migration on Ireland and the United States, and the importance of adequate support in present circumstances for people forced to flee their homes as a result of poverty, conflict, or climate change.

The president will issue a call to academics to harness the emancipatory power of science to help advance human freedom and human knowledge. He will call on universities to lead a paradigm of engagement with the world and contribute to the discourse on the pressing challenges of the day, be they crises of democracy, ecological crises, or humanitarian crises.

 “Fordham is honored to host President Higgins, and to have him speak to the University community,” said Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham. “He is an eloquent, compassionate, and thoughtful leader, and his commitment to serve the most vulnerable among us makes him an especially fitting choice to deliver this humanitarian lecture.”

Brendan Cahill, executive director of the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs, added, “At a time when world politics has become defined by how nations undermine international agreements, it is a great honor to welcome a leader who celebrates multilateralism, who speaks clearly about not only the Irish history of hunger, migration, and violence but its contribution to peace, to education, to an ethical and humanitarian approach to world issues.” 

Michael D. Higgins has served as the president of Ireland since November 2011. A passionate political voice, poet and writer, academic and statesman, human rights advocate, promoter of inclusive citizenship, and champion of creativity within Irish society, President Higgins has previously served at almost every level of public life in Ireland, including as Ireland’s first minister for arts, culture and the Gaeltacht.

Born in Limerick City and raised in County Clare, he was a factory worker and a clerk before becoming the first in his family to access higher education. He studied at University College Galway, the University of Manchester, and Indiana University. As a writer and poet, he has contributed to many books covering diverse aspects of Irish politics, sociology, history, and culture.

President Higgins was the president of the Labour Party from 2003 until 2011, when he resigned following his election as president of Ireland. 

The Ireland at Fordham Humanitarian Lecture Series, a multiyear partnership between the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations and Fordham’s Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA), explores the challenges facing policymakers and humanitarians as they seek to ensure aid reaches those in need, that humanitarian principles are upheld, and that civilians are protected. Specific topics of discussion include humanitarian protection through international humanitarian law, humanitarian financing, climate and security. The inaugural lecture at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on April 29th by former President, H.E. Mary Robinson, Chair of the Elders. The series will run until June 2020 with events in New York, Dublin, and Geneva.

About Fordham University

Founded in 1841, Fordham is the Jesuit University of New York, offering exceptional education distinguished by the Jesuit tradition across nine schools. Fordham awards baccalaureate, graduate, and professional degrees to approximately 15,000 students from Fordham College at Rose Hill, Fordham College at Lincoln Center, the Gabelli School of Business (undergraduate and graduate), the School of Professional and Continuing Studies, the Graduate Schools of Arts and Sciences, Education, Religion and Religious Education, and Social Service, and the School of Law. The University has residential campuses in the Bronx and Manhattan, a campus in West Harrison, N.Y., the Louis Calder Center Biological Field Station in Armonk, N.Y., and the London Centre in the United Kingdom.

Gina Vergel
[email protected]
(646) 579-9957


Gina Vergel is Senior Director of Communications. She oversees the digital news coverage, public relations, and social media for the university. Before joining Fordham in 2007, Gina worked as a reporter for the Home News Tribune, and The Ridgewood News, where she won Society of Professional Journalist (New Jersey chapter) awards for breaking news and feature writing, respectively. She can be reached at [email protected] or (646) 579-9957.