Segelberg Lecture Series

The Dalhousie School of Public Administration was proud to host a series of public lectures on the intersection of public policy, spirituality and end of life issues. 

The Segelberg Trust committed a gift of $50,000 over five years to Dalhousie University's School of Public Administration to support the lecture series. "This gift will allow our School of Public Administration the opportunity to discuss the impact of spirituality and its interaction with public policy," said Dr. Fazley Siddiq, former director, School of Public Administration. "It allows us to expand our thinking beyond the traditional borders of public development." The lecture series is intended to appeal to students, the broader university community and the public.

Download the free e-book: Issues of the Ends of Life

Exploring the intersection of religious faith and public policy, this book contains the lectures of the first Segelberg Lecture Series, which was focused on The Ends of Life.

Download the PDF version of the book, Issues of the Ends of Life [899 kB]

If there is a single theme that dominates throughout, from all these differing perspectives on the nexus of public policy and spirituality in relation to death and dying, it is the importance of open and thoughtful discussion.
--Innis Christie, from the Preface

Past Lectures

Terry Waite: Strength of the Human Spirit: COVID-19 – Isolation, Loneliness & Societal Change (October 2020)

Dr. Terry Waite knows a thing or two about solitude and loneliness. The English humanitarian and author travelled to Lebanon in 1987 to secure the release of four hostages as an envoy for the Church of England. He was kidnapped and held captive for 1,763 days by Islamic fundamentalists until his release in 1991.

Enduring nearly five years of solitary confinement, Dr. Waite’s experiences and observations about the power of solitude in our lives is more relevant than ever as we contemplate the future in a new world of restrictions imposed by the coronavirus.

The author of three books (Taken on TrustOut of the Silence and Solitude) will share his thoughts on how solitude can shape the human soul and act as a force for good in our lives, if used effectively.

Following Dr. Waite’s formal presentation, breakout sessions combining students and community participants will be made available to encourage further exploration of the many issues and challenges raised by COVID-19.

Additional Information

This Lloyd G. Shaw Lecture at Dalhousie University is supported in partnership with the Warren Discussion Series of Segelberg Trust.  

Supported by Dalhousie University, Faculty of Management and School of Social Work.


Further information:  Contact David Stuewe at

Allan Blakeney & Eric Beresford - Public Policy: Reason and Faith (January 2008)

The development of public policy on the most contentious legal, medical and ethical issues around the end of life gives rise to tensions between reason, or rationalism, and religious faith. How does, and how should, our society address issues where reason and faith collide? Hon. Alan Blakeney, former Premier of Saskatchewan, a father of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and a Nova Scotia Rhodes Scholar will discuss the making of public policy in such contexts with the Rev. Canon Eric Beresford, President of the Atlantic School of Theology, who, as a former staff Consultant for Ethics and Interfaith Relations to the Anglican Church of Canada, helped write the document "Care in Dying: A Consideration of the Practices of Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide".

Rev. Canon Eric Beresford

Rev. Canon Eric Beresford, President of the Atlantic School of Theology.

Hon. Allan Blakeney

Hon. Allan Blakeney, former Premier of Saskatchewan and Visiting Scholar at the University of Saskatchewan College of Law.

Harvey Chochinov and Genevieve Thompson - Dying with Dignity: A Contemporary Challenge in End-of-Life Care (October 2007)

Over the past decade, Dr. Chochinov’s research group has conducted a number of studies addressing the issue of dying with dignity in patients who are terminally ill. Dignity is a highly politicized term, which has been used to support various approaches for care of the dying. While most palliative care providers attending to patients would espouse dignity as an overarching value or goal of end-of-life care, few studies have provided guidance or direction on how this might be operationalized or systematically achieved. This information is vital to ensure that dying patients maintain their sense of dignity until the very end. This talk  addresses how terminally ill patients understand the notion of dignity and what factors undermine or maintain their sense of dignity.

Clinical illustrations and research data highlight the therapeutic considerations that are informed by an understanding of dignity related distress. The basics of Dignity Conserving Care were reviewed and the implications for healthcare providers detailed.

Dr. Harvey Chochinov

Dr. Chochinov teaches at the University of Manitoba and is the Canada Research Chair in Palliative Care

Karen Lebacqz - The Ends of Life: Notes from a Narrow Ridge (January 2007)

The death of Terri Schiavo in 2005 brought to an end a prolonged, contentious legal battle in the United States, but it did not bring to an end the many questions that her life and death posed.

Dr. Karen Lebacqz attempts to sort out some of the long-term implications of this volatile case. In particular, she addresses the implications of Terri's life and death for understanding the nexus between religion and social policy in the arena of bioethics.

Dr. Karen Lebacqz

Former Bioethicist-in-Residence at Yale University and Professor Emerita at the Pacific School of Religion.

Jocelyn Downie - The Ends of Life: Public Policy, Spirituality and the Law (October 2006)

The Ends of Life and Death: Public Policy, Spirituality and the Law

Euthanasia and assisted suicide – few words take us more immediately to the intersection of law and spirituality.

Beliefs about the meaning of life and suffering. Beliefs about the definition and determination of death. Beliefs about the significance and legitimacy of agency in relation to the timing and cause of death. All of these beliefs motivate positions on what the law should be. Not surprisingly, however, they do not take us to a single position on which all can agree. Indeed, polarized positions are frequently justified through reference to various competing conceptions of human spirituality.

In this lecture, Dr. Downie will first describe the current legal status of various end of life practices in Canada including the determination of death, the withholding and withdrawal of potentially life-sustaining treatment, the provision of potentially life-shortening palliative treatment, assisted suicide and euthanasia. Ways in which spirituality has played, might play and should play a role in debates about what the legal status of these practices should be will be explored.

Dr. Jocelyn Downie

The author of Dying Justice, professor at the Dalhousie University Law School and former Director of the Health Law Institute. Dr Downie explores legal, public policy and spiritual issues at the end of life focused upon rights to die.

Terry Waite - The Ends of Life: Body, Mind and the Human Spirit in Political Captivity (February 2006)

Public policy, spirituality and end of life - these are the themes tackled in the first lecture of the Segelberg Lecture Series - by renowned speaker, humanitarian and author Terry Waite. The intersection of public policy and spirituality is the general subject of the Segelberg Lectures; the end of life is the focus of the first series of five lectures, of which Mr. Waite's is the first.