Helen Alford, Doctor Honoris Causa by Universidade Católica, "embodies a remarkable fusion of faith and intellect"

Wednesday, February 7, 2024 - 14:10

Economist Helen Alford, OP, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Human Sciences by the Universidade Católica Portuguesa (UCP) on February 1 for her research into the impact of ethics and Christian social thought in the fields of management, sustainability and artificial intelligence.

In the words of the President of the Universidade Católica, Isabel Capeloa Gil, the honored researcher, in addition to being a "renowned economist, and President of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences of the Holy See," Helen Alford "embodies a remarkable fusion of faith, intellect and a deep commitment to the betterment of humanity".

Grateful for the distinction, for the economist "receiving an Honorary Doctorate in Human Sciences from a Catholic university as prestigious as the Universidade Católica Portuguesa is especially significant and an honor".

During the ceremony, and aiming to highlight the importance of combining the spiritual dimension with technical progress, Helen Alford argued that "it is in the realm of the spirit that we find the goal of the technical and the door to transcendence is opened".

An engineering graduate, "Helen Alford began her career far from institutional philosophy courses. However, from the beginning of her life, she has been a philosopher." This is how Carla Cardoso, Helen Alford's godmother for this PhD, described the honoree's rich career. In her speech, the professor at UCP's Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences praised Alford's "hard, extensive and distinguished work", highlighting "her search for viable methods to put the social message of the Gospel into practice".

With a doctorate from Cambridge University for her thesis "Human Centered Technology", Alford joined the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena in Newcastle, Natal (South Africa) in 1994. During the following years, she studied the subjects of Theology at Blackfriars, Oxford, Sacred Liturgy at Sant'Anselmo, Rome, and Morals at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas (Angelicum), where she later began teaching. She is currently Professor of Economics and Ethics and Director of the Faculty of Social Sciences, having also been Vice-Rector at the same university.

In this solemn session, as part of the celebration of UCP's National Day on February 4, there was also the imposition of insignia and the awarding of doctoral letters to the doctors who obtained their degree in 2023.

Helen Alford, Doutora Honoris Causa pela UCP, “encarna uma fusão notável de fé e intelecto”