Professor Patricia Illingworth

Patricia Illingworth is an author, philosopher, and lawyer who works on some of the most urgent social, ethical, and human rights problems that face people and their communities.

Illingworth’s approach is highly interdisciplinary, with a scholar’s focus on facts, a philosopher’s attention to cogency, and a lawyer’s eye for practical policy solutions. She uses her skills to promote human rights and the public good.

She is a Senior Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and a Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion and in the D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University.

Professor Illingworth has written and edited seven books, including The Health of Newcomers (2017), with Wendy E. Parmet, Us Before Me (2012), Trusting Medicine (2005), and AIDS and the Good Society (1990). With expertise in human rights, ethics, and law, she is accustomed to explaining complex ideas to an intellectually diverse audience. She offers media commentary, speaks in public venues, and writes blog posts for non-specialists. She has been interviewed by The New York Times, NPR, Vice News, Outside magazine, and other outlets. Illingworth recently spoke at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, TX, and at the Boston Public Library. Her blog posts have appeared on The Huffington Post, Health Affairs Blog (Health Affairs), Bioethics Forum (The Hastings Center), the Human Rights at Home Blog, and other outlets.

The common thread that runs through Illingworth’s work is a commitment to making the world a better place for all people. In her new book, Giving for Human Rights, she makes the compelling argument that philanthropy should prioritize human rights. Illingworth combines an innovative approach to philanthropy with a due diligence framework that can be easily applied. Giving for Human Rights will be essential reading for intellectually and socially engaged readers, as well as for educators, donors, development professionals, activists, and social entrepreneurs. Publication is scheduled for 2019 with Oxford University Press.

Illingworth teaches courses in bioethics, business ethics, global justice, and philanthropy and human rights in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities and in the D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University, and at Northeastern University School of Law. In spring 2017, Illingworth led a study group on “Philanthropy for Human Rights” at Harvard’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. She has also taught medical ethics at Harvard Medical School with Dr. James Sabin.

Illingworth serves on the editorial boards of Ethics and Behavior and Bioethics and is a member of the advisory board of Human Rights and the Global Economy (e-journal). She has served as a member of the Ethics Committee at Mount Auburn Hospital, a member of the Human Rights Committee at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center, the Institutional Review Board at the Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, and a member of the Ethics Committee and Institutional Review Board at the Bedford Stem Cell Research Foundation.

Originally from Toronto, Canada, Illingworth received her PhD in philosophy from the University of California at San Diego and her law degree from Boston University School of Law. Before coming to Northeastern University, she held appointments in the Department of Philosophy and in the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University in Montreal. She has held fellowships at Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School, and Rice University. Illingworth was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar Association in 1997.