Society and religion will take center stage this year in the form of distinguished American philosopher, Martha Nussbaum, Ph.D.As the principal speaker of the 2nd annual Distinguished Lecture Series, hosted by the Humanities Center and directed by Thomas Heffernan, Ph.D, Nussbaum will examine religious intolerance in the modern world.

Yet, this will be not be Nussbaum's first time on campus. Twenty years ago, Nussbaum was invited just after finishing her first book, still at the beginning of her career. Next Monday, she returns to UT with a more contemporary view of philosophy.

During her time in Knoxville, Nussbaum will give three different presentations.

The first will be a seminar to a faculty group that has been reading her work for the past six to eight weeks. The second will be a public lecture on religious intolerance occurring on Sept. 16 at 3:30 p.m. in the UC. The third will be a Q-and-A format meeting for students on Sept. 17 in the Black Cultural Center. "Dr. Nussbaum's visit is a going to be a great opportunity for the students to meet with this very distinguished public intellectual person up front and close to ask questions," Heffernan said.

The lectures will address current examples of religious intolerance, the origin of prejudice and – more specifically – intolerance in America post-9/11.

"Religious intolerance is a bigotry emerging from ignorance and fear and a need to protect our group," Heffernan said.Also involved with international economic development, Nussbaum is well known for her defense of the "capabilities" approach.

"This approach focuses policies on the development of basic human capabilities to function in ways essential to a dignified human life, rather than on ... the increase of per capita GDP, has been quite influential," David Reidy, Ph.D, head of the Department of Philosophy, said.Reidy, a fan of Nussbaum's work, is excited for students to be exposed to her theologies.

"She is an outstanding, multidisciplinary scholar whose career and work exemplifies the tremendous importance of serious scholarship both across the humanities and in conversation with sciences, both social and natural," Reidy said. "It's both terrific and fitting that she's delivering a Humanities Center lecture."