Humanities Institute

2008 - 2009 Cline Visiting Professor

Cline Centennial Visiting Professor: Dr. Shirin Ebadi

In collaboration with the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, the Humanities Institute co-sponsored a six day campus residency by Nobel Laureate Dr. Shirin Ebadi during the last week of April, 2009. A courageous and accomplished civil rights activist and lecturer in law at the University of Tehran, Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her pioneering efforts to advance democracy and human rights—especially the rights of women and children—in post-revolutionary Iran. During her residency at UT, Ebadi held the Humanities Institute’s C. L. and Henriette Cline Visiting Professorship in the Humanities. Dr. Ebadi’s residency included a public lecture, conversations with interested student, faculty, and community organizations, as well as panel discussions on such topics as the history and future of U. S.-Iranian relations and 21st century global challenges to the rights of women and children. Ebadi’s visit also built on and culminate a year of HI-sponsored or co-sponsored forums on aspects of its 2008-9 theme, Ethical Life in a Global Society.

Shirin Ebadi

Among the most visible and prominent women in the Islamic world, Shirin Ebadi first achieved distinction in the mid-1970s as the first woman judge to preside over a legislative court in Iran. Nearly thirty years later, she became the first Iranian, the first Shia, and the first Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Prize. A supporter of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, Ebadi nonetheless was stripped of her judgeship and of her license to practice law when conservative clerics prevailed in their interpretation of Islam as forbidding legal practice by women. Refusing to leave Iran, Ebadi raised a family and boldly fought for legal and human rights reform throughout the 1980s and, in 1992, succeeded in regaining her law license. A frequent defense counsel for Iranian liberals and dissidents and plaintiff’s counsel for victims of civil and human rights abuses. Ebadi helped establish two non-governmental organizations in Iran, the Society for Protecting the Rights of the Child (SPRC) and the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), and drafted the original text of a law against physical abuse of children, which was passed by the Iranian parliament in 2002. She is the author of numerous books and articles—including two recent works for Western audiences, Democracy, Human Rights, and Islam and a moving and illuminating personal account of her experience of the Iranian Revolution, Iran Awakening: One Woman’s Journey to Reclaim Her Life and Country.

For more information, please contact the Institute at (512) 471-2654

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