KIE announces inaugural Francis J. McNamara, Jr. Chair

The Kennedy Institute of Ethics (KIE) is delighted to announce that Madison Powers, JD, DPhil, Professor of Philosophy and Senior Research Scholar at the KIE, has been named the inaugural recipient of the Francis J. McNamara, Jr. Chair.

The Chair was made possible through a generous gift ($3.6 million) from Kathleen (Kathy) McNamara Hugin, a 1982 graduate of Georgetown College from Summit, New Jersey, with her husband, Robert (Bob). The gift also benefitted the Institute’s Ethics Lab.

In naming Dr. Powers as the inaugural Chair, Georgetown Provost Robert Groves noted “…[We] recognize and honor your extraordinary record of teaching scholarship, and leadership in the field of Applied Ethics and in support of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics.”

Powers has published numerous journal articles and book chapters on a variety of topics in normative and practical philosophy. With co-author Ruth Faden, he is working on a new book refining and expanding the arguments from their 2006 book, Social Justice: the Moral Foundations of Public Health and Health Policy. The new book, entitled Structural Injustice: Deprivation, Disadvantage, and Domination, presents an account of the most basic, morally most urgent forms of structural injustice, both domestically and globally.

Powers’ other primary research focus is on a set specific issues of justice pertaining to climate change, the global production of food, and the management of water resources. The overall aim is to show how the production, distribution, and regulation of vital, and increasingly scarce resources affect paths to global development, poverty alleviation, and the capacity of individuals and nations to secure the basic requirements for decent human lives and to preserve sustainable human habitats. This aspect of research involves a series of papers and public lectures, an encyclopedic, regularly updated website, and perhaps a book intended for a broader audience. The site contains over 500 entries organized within 36 categories, covering a variety of issues arising out of the global economic and political arrangements pertaining to food, energy, and water. It was inaugurated in 2013, and now receives 10,000-15,000 unique visitors from over 100 countries each month. 

Ms. Hugin is a great friend of Georgetown University, having served in a number of volunteer leadership roles at the university, including the Board of Regents, and is part of a multigenerational Georgetown family. The Hugins made the gift in memory of Kathy’s father, Francis J. McNamara, Jr., who graduated from the College in 1949 and the Law Center in 1951.

The Hugins’ philanthropic investment in bioethics is founded in Kathy’s and her father’s experience of learning at Georgetown in ways that helped them think clearly about and make the right decisions when confronted with life’s complex issues. Their gift builds on Georgetown’s and the Institute’s leadership in applying intellectual and moral rigor to real-world challenges. The Hugins’ endowment of a Chair in bioethics will allow more students to learn about and engage in ethical decision making in today’s world—a world where bioethical decision making becomes more challenging with each advance in medical science.

“We are so grateful to count Kathy and Bob Hugin as friends and supporters of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics,” says Institute director Maggie Little. “The Chair honors the important work of the Institute, and the timely, issue-driven, globally-oriented scholarship of its inaugural holder.”