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14 April 2024  

Conferring of Degrees on Published Work



At a ceremony held in the National University of Ireland, 49 Merrion Square, on Friday 22nd November 2019 at 5pm, Professor Nolan NUI Pro-Vice Chancellor and President of Maynooth University conferred higher doctorates on published work on the following:

Dr Michael O'Flaherty

Michael O’Flaherty
is a graduate of UCD, the Gregorian University in Rome and the University of Amsterdam.

Now Director of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights in Vienna, he was previously Professor of Human Rights Law and Director of the Human Rights Centre at NUI Galway. He is currently Adjunct Professor in the Department of Law at Maynooth.




Dr Santiago Sia

Santiago Sia
followed his early studies in philosophy in the Philippines with a BD degree at St Patrick’s College Maynooth before going on to do his PhD at TCD.

Since then, he has taught in a number of universities and colleges in Ireland and elsewhere. He has held professorships at Milltown Institute when it was an NUI recognised college and Loyola Marymount College, Los Angeles.




Noting that higher doctorates on published work are the highest degrees of the University, awarded to scholars of international distinction in their fields,  the NUI Registrar introduced each of the candidates for conferring. In each case, she referred to the comments of the external assessors who had considered their applications.

Introducing Michael O’Flaherty she quoted from the assessors’ reports as follows:

His work represents a very close engagement with human rights practice and policy but at the same ime retains the scholarly and disciplinary integrity of a legal academic.

In several of the areas in which he has worked the candidate has definitely added new knowledge of significance. In terms of the functioning of the United Nations human rights treaty monitoring, his early writings shed important light on the interactions of Ireland in particular with the system, while his later writings addressed the need for major reform of the overall system.

Perhaps the most original contributions that the author has made to the overall literature is his pioneering work on the role of professionalism in the context of United Nations field operations.

Finally, the author has also made an important contribution in terms of international efforts to clarify the human rights entitlements that exist in relation to sexual orientation. At a time when there was still widespread and deep-rooted discrimination in the vast majority of countries against sexual minorities, he undertook to lead and coordinate pioneering and diplomatic work which led to significant breakthroughs in practice.’

"The challenges of the present time are daunting but the opportunities are evident. I encourage us,
across our disciplines and functions, to come together in pursuit of the wonderful vision that is captured
in article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - of a world where all people are born free and
equal in dignity and rights."

"Irish universities are well placed to rise to the challenge of smart, law-based interdisciplinary research.
Much such work is already underway within the strong human rights centres and clusters across NUI and other institutions. I also observe in Irish universities a welcome respect for applied studies intended to impact public
policy and across our societies."

Professor O’Flaherty


Introducing Santiago Sia, the Registrar quoted the following from the assessors’ reports:

By any standards, Professor Sia’s cv is enormously impressive. He has written, co-written or edited thirteen books and published more than sixty articles He has published mostly in the areas of process philosophy and theology, philosophy of religion, ethics, philosophy of education and Asian philosophy. He is a well known and leading thinker today in the area of process theism.

Sia’s work is known for attempting to advance a (process) view of God that avoids some of the classical problems of classical theism (e.g. that God cannot change, and that God is too remote from persons), while trying to show how the process view can respond to the problem of suffering. He is regarded as a world authority in these areas.

In his later career, Sia has published work relating to philosophy of education and ethics.. He has been able to bring his ideas to a much wider audience through his work…for example, as a consultant to some UN agencies. He is clearly seen as someone who has not only expertise but wisdom and whose gifts can benefit those outside philosophy and who are struggling with difficult questions from the perspective of public policy.

"The award of a DLitt in the context of my published work in philosophy and related areas provides me,
hopefully, with the justification not just for philosophy as an academic subject but also in its interaction
with other disciplines. I therefore welcome its wider designation—the Latin version, Doctor Litterarum,
is much more accurate—insofar as it avoids the narrow interpretation of what is entailed in the study of
philosophy. Of course, one would not wish to detract from the significance of the rigour demanded in the
pursuit of philosophy as an academic subject. But one is reminded nonetheless that depth does not have to be,
nor should it be, isolated from breadth. Significant explorations, including in one’s own field, can be helped by
also turning to other academic areas."

Professor Sia

Photos from the conferring

(click image to enlarge)

Further information from:

National University of Ireland
49 Merrion Square
Dublin 2, D02 V583
Ph: 01 4392424
Twitter: @NUIMerrionSq


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