Beijing Harper Lecture with Susan Gzesh, AB’72: The Challenge of Citizenship

3:00–6:00 pm


In an integrated, globalized society, the increased flow of capital and goods across borders has been lauded widely. The increased flow of human beings across borders, however, has been somewhat more controversial. The presence of large numbers of noncitizens in countries across the globe presents a challenge to sovereignty, national identities and the understanding of citizenship itself. What are the possible outcomes when fundamental notions of universal rights clash with the prerogatives of sovereign states to control the admission and conditions of noncitizens stays? In this talk, senior University of Chicago lecturer Susan Gzesh examined the situation of asylum seekers, stateless persons and migratory workers in the contemporary world. She discussed various models for striking the balance among the duties of citizenship, national identity, the role of foreign nationals and respect for universal rights.

Susan Gzesh, AB’72, is senior lecturer and executive director of the Human Rights Program at the University of Chicago, teaching College and graduate students. She also directs an interdisciplinary center, which fosters human rights research and curriculum and sponsors student internships and public events. Gzesh is of counsel to the Chicago law firm Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym and a fellow of the Migration Policy Institute. Gzesh has previously taught as a lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, and from 1978 to 2001, she practiced law in Chicago and directed an international migration policy project. She has written on the relationship among human rights, migration, and development and has participated as a civil society representative in several UN-sponsored meetings on the relationship between migration and economic development.

The Harper Lecture series is offered to the worldwide UChicago community by the University of Chicago Alumni Association. Named for the University’s first president, William Rainey Harper, the series carries on his vision of broadly accessible and innovative education. Susan Gzesh will also be delivering Harper Lectures in Shanghai on May 27 and Hong Kong on May 31.