Dean’s blog episode 14: four winners of the student prizes and a new honorary doctor on behalf of our Faculty
Last Friday the University celebrated its 43rd birthday. This was a wonderful and festive event for both the University and the Faculty. Four students received a prize for their thesis and Prof. Monica Claes presented Michael Ignatieff with a honorary doctorate.
Last week the University celebrated its 43rd anniversary with a number of impressive ceremonies. On Friday morning, the SWUM student prizes were awarded to the best Bachelor’s theses of 2018. For our Faculty these were Elden van Delft (Rechtsgeleerdheid), Kilian Hussmann (ELS) and Liza Peters (Tax Law). The Rector handed out the certificate.
It is wonderful that in this way students get recognised for their academic work. In the afternoon the prize for the best Master’s thesis in law was awarded to Marika Madfors with a thesis on ‘The Role of Law in Preventing the Risks of Superintelligence.’ Marika wrote her thesis in the Master Forensics, Criminology and Law. No one knows exactly what future ‘superintelligence’ will look like, but Marika convincingly showed that the law is not able to contain the risks of this type of artificial intelligence.
At the celebration in the Sint Janskerk, a stimulating lecture by Minister Sigrid Kaag was followed by the award of honorary doctorates to Amitav Ghosh (at the initiative of FASOS) and to Michael Ignatieff (at our initiative). Ignatieff is not only an academic and public intellectual, as President and Rector of Central European University in Budapest, he is the best possible defender of academic freedom. And although a historian by training, his work is closely connected to legal issues. In his most recent book ‘The Ordinary Virtues’, for example, he asks what remains of the universality of human rights in a globalising society and whether moral cohesion should not rather be found in ordinary virtues.
In the stimulating lecture he gave on Thursday afternoon in the Statenzaal, he discussed two of these virtues: trust and tolerance. After receiving the kappa from honorary promotor Prof. Monica Claes, he spoke about the intrinsic link between the rule of law and academic freedom. The reasons for bestowing this honour are eloquently phrased by Monica in this video.
The Faculty is proud of its new honorary doctor and influencer avant la lettre. Michael Ignatieff is the ninth person to receive a honorary doctorate at the initiative of our Faculty. The award usually takes place in the year in which the Faculty has its lustrum. Several dates were used for this over time. In 1989 the first one was awarded to ds. Beyers Naudé, five years after the Faculty had become a separate entity within the University. Two years later Tim Koopmans became our second honorary doctor. This was ten years after the first staff members were hired to prepare for the new curriculum (the first students arrived in September 1982). Since then, 1981 is regarded as the year of founding the Faculty (with an interesting interval between 1996 and 2006, when no honorary doctorates were awarded on behalf of the Faculty).
In recent years, honorary doctorates could be awarded more often, which explains the present one. Coincidentally, last week’s doctorate nicely fits the very first honorary doctorate because 2019 is exactly 35 years after the founding of the Faculty. From now on, 1981 will again be the decisive year, which means the Faculty can again propose a honorary doctorate in 2021 for its 40th anniversary.
|More blogs on Law Blog Maastricht|