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January 14, 2010

‘Dead Man Walking’ author to speak at Oregon Law Tonight

Peace and conflict studies essay contest to honor UO professor to be announced prior to talk

Sister Helen Prejean, a nationally-known anti-death penalty activist, will speak about restorative justice during a free public lecture at the University of Oregon School of Law on Monday, January 25.

Prejean’s speech on the topic “Inalienable Human Rights Today,” will begin at 7:00 p.m. at the Knight Law Center, Room 175, 1515 Agate St. The event is part of the “Human Rights in Question” lecture series presented by the Savage Committee on International Relations and Peace and sponsored by the Robert D. Clark Honors College and the Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR) Center.

Prejean is one of the best-known opponents of the death penalty. Her first book, New York Times best seller and Pulitzer-Prize nominated “Dead Man Walking,” was based on her experience as the spiritual advisor to convicted killer and death row inmate, Patrick Sonnier, who was sentenced to die for the murder of two teenagers. Her book was later turned into the award-winning film directed by Tim Robbins.

Sister Helen’s second book, “The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions,” tells the story of two possibly innocent men whom she accompanied to their executions. The book evaluates the evidence and examines how flaws in the death penalty system lead to the execution of innocent people.

The public lecture will be preceded by the announcement of the international Cheyney Ryan Peace and Conflict Studies Essay Contest winners. This year, the master’s program in Conflict and Dispute Resolution housed in the UO School of Law hosted an international essay contest to honor Ryan, a UO professor of philosophy, for his contributions to peace education and conflict resolution.

“Cheyney Ryan has been instrumental in every peace-related initiative on this campus for the past 30 years,” said Jane Gordon, ADR director, “Because of Cheyney’s prominence in the field, we have been able to attract great speakers like Sister Helen.”

During the past 30 years, Ryan played a major role in the development of peace-related initiatives at UO including, the founding of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the master’s program in Conflict and Dispute Resolution, the Carleton Savage Endowment in International Relations and Peace, the University of Oregon Humanities Center, and the University of Oregon Schnitzer Program on Judaic Studies.

The Cheyney Ryan Peace and Conflict Studies Essay Contest was open to all undergraduate students. The authors of the top three essays will each receive $500 and have their essays published internationally.

Related Link

University of Oregon Press Release

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