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The Eighth Annual Zócalo Book Prize Lecture

Our globalized world is built on the notion of universal precepts—such as democracy and human rights—that supposedly benefit everyone. But these ideas can seem like abstractions in our daily lives. Local communities operate more according to ordinary virtues—trust, honesty, politeness, forgiveness, and respect. By shortening the distances between people and places, globalization has sharpened the conflict between the local and the global, between the principles of justice for all individuals and the need for self-determination, harmony, and basic decency within local communities. In the 21st century, how do local community needs and universal values influence, and sometimes collide with, each other? In the competition between the different moral worlds of small communities and global elites, which side is gaining the upper hand? And how do communities create and nurture shared moral values in global cities like Los Angeles, to which people of different races, religions, and national origins bring different experiences and values? Central European University rector and president Michael Ignatieff, winner of the eighth annual Zócalo Book Prize for The Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World, visits Zócalo to explore whether ordinary local virtues provide the best answer to the growing divisions in our polarized planet.

Charles Jensen, winner of the seventh annual Zócalo Poetry Prize, will deliver a public reading of his winning poem prior to the lecture.