The 2009-2010 Farley Lecture

The 2009 Margaret Farley Lectureship took place on November 17th.

LeRoy Walters

Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. Professor of Christian Ethics,

Kennedy Institute, Georgetown University

Dietrich Bonhoeffer and People with Disabilities: 

A German Theologian Confronts Nazi Eugenics and Euthanasia

About the Speaker: LeRoy Walters was born in Illinois and spent his elementary and secondary school years in Pennsylvania. He attended a small Pennsylvania liberal-arts college, Messiah College, receiving his B.A. in 1962. After finishing a B.D. degree at the Associated Mennonite Seminaries in 1965, Professor Walters studied for two years in Germany, one year at the University of Heidelberg and one year at the Free University of Berlin. While in Berlin, he also helped to organize East-West conferences in East Berlin, the German Democratic Republic, Czechoslovakia, and Poland.

In 1967, Dr. Walters returned to the United States and began a Ph.D. program in the Department of Religious Studies at Yale University. He finished his Ph.D. in Christian ethics in the spring of 1971 on the topic “Five Classic Just-War Theories: A Study in the Thought of Thomas Aquinas, Vitiria, Suarez, Gentili, and Grotius.” His dissertation received the Theron Rockwell Field Prize from the university. During the summer of 1971, LeRoy joined the newly-established Kennedy Institute of Ethics and its Director, Andre Hellegers, as the first faculty member appointed to a multi-year term. He has remained a member of the Kennedy Institute since 1971. In 1975, Dr. Walters received an appointment as Assistant Professor of Philosophy. He was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor in 1980, and the rank of Professor in 1993. In the latter year he was also named the Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. Professor of Christian Ethics at the Kennedy Institute.

During the summer of 1996, Professor Walters accepted a three-year term as Director of the Kennedy Institute. He has also served for three terms on the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee of the National Institutes of Health. From 1993 through 1996 he served as Chair of the committee, which reviews human-gene-therapy protocols. A continuing interest in Professor Walters’ work has been the development of a bioethics library. The Kennedy Institute library, now called the National Reference Center for Bioethics Literature, is the largest collection of materials on biomedical ethics under one roof in the world.

Much of Dr. Walters’ research has been devoted to ethical issues in human genetics. Professor Walters teaches courses on “Ethics and Human Genetics” and “Eugenics and Ethics.” At Georgetown, he also offers survey courses in bioethics, the “Proseminar in Bioethics,” and a historical course on “The Birth of Bioethics.”