UIC Conference Marks 250th Anniversary of Rousseau’s Social Contract

Three centuries of human rights theory and practice around the world will be examined and discussed by top scholars and social justice activists at a conference Oct. 17-19 hosted by the University of Illinois at Chicago. The event is free and open to the public.

The conference “Inequality and Exclusion: The Theory and Practice of Human Rights,” marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of Genevan/French writer and philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the 250th anniversary of his book, “The Social Contract.”

Rousseau’s theory, which centers on maintaining individual freedom under the rule of law as the best way to ensure the general welfare of society, is credited for influencing modern political thought and contemporary human rights.

Conference schedule:

Oct. 17; 6:30 p.m.: Opening event features four short films on Rousseau’s work followed by a discussion by Megan Laverty of Columbia University Teacher’s College. Reception follows. Alliance Française de Chicago, 54 W. Chicago Ave.

Oct. 18; 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.: Sessions address development of human rights theory, theories of poverty and immigration, and the fight against poverty locally, nationally and in Europe. UIC Institute for the Humanities, lower level, Stevenson Hall, 701 S. Morgan St.

Oct. 19; 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.: Roundtable discussion of humanitarian aid and working with social welfare organizations. Michel Legros, member of France’s National Poverty and Social Exclusion Observatory, delivers keynote address. UIC Institute for the Humanities, lower level, Stevenson Hall, 701 S. Morgan St.

More information about the conference or call (312) 996-6352.

The conference is sponsored by the French and Francophone studies department at UIC; the UIC School of Literatures, Cultural Studies and Linguistics; the UIC Institute for the Humanities; the cultural service at the consulate general of France in Chicago; and the consulate general of Switzerland in Chicago.

UIC ranks among the nation’s leading research universities and is Chicago’s largest university with 27,500 students, 12,000 faculty and staff, 15 colleges and the state’s major public medical center. A hallmark of the campus is the Great Cities Commitment, through which UIC faculty, students and staff engage with community, corporate, foundation and government partners in hundreds of programs to improve the quality of life in metropolitan areas around the world. More information about UIC.

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