Past Event

Faith Sommerfield Memorial Lecture with Philospher Peter Singer

September 21, 2023
6:15 PM - 8:00 PM
Italian Academy, 1161 Amsterdam Ave., New York, NY 10027 Teatro

Please join us for this Inaugural Memorial Lecture, featuring the renowned philosopher Peter Singer. 

Doors open at 5:45 p.m. Lecture runs from 6:15-7:30 p.m. Reception to follow. This event is free and open to the public.


The Faith Sommerfield Memorial Lecture was established at Columbia University School of Professional Studies in partnership with the Program in Bioethics in early 2023 to commemorate the life of Faith Sommerfield, the late Founder of the Completed Life Initiative. This inaugural lecture will feature a presentation by the renowned philosopher Peter Singer.

The Faith Sommerfield Memorial Lecture aims to implement a yearly lecture series on broadening the scope of end-of-life care—specifically, what it means to live a good life and how a person might achieve a good death. For many, the thought of death may be a topic to be avoided for as long as possible. For people like Faith, however, having a good death was as important as having a good life. Faith had encountered her first experience of a bad death when a close childhood friend died from leukemia, which prompted Faith’s deep contemplation of mortality and invigorated her belief system regarding the importance of a chosen death. This belief of a good death has always been at the heart of Faith’s contemplation of the completed life.


Peter Singer has been described as the world’s most influential philosopher. Born in Melbourne in 1946, he has been professor of bioethics at Princeton University since 1999. His many books include Animal Liberation - often credited with triggering the modern animal rights movement - Practical Ethics, The Life You Can Save, The Most Good You Can Do, and Ethics in the Real World. In 2023, he published Animal Liberation Now, a fully revised and updated version of the 1975 original.

Singer’s writings have also inspired the movement known as effective altruism, and he is the founder of the charity The Life You Can Save. In 2021 he was awarded the $1 million Berggruen Prize for Philosophy and Culture, which he donated to nonprofit organizations working for the causes he supports. In 2023 he received the Frontiers of Knowledge Prize for the Humanities, from the Spanish BBVA Foundation.


Faith established the Completed Life Initiative in late2019. Her vision for the Initiative is to leave an impact for the greater good by promoting conversation, authentic understanding, and legislation that empowers people to face the complete life cycle with self-determination and, above all else, dignity. She was grateful to be blessed with the resources to have a voluntary death when she believed her life had been completed. She died peacefully at the time of her choosing in Basel, Switzerland on September 27, 2022.

For more information about the Completed Life Initiative, please visit their website

For more information about the Columbia School of Professional Studies Program in Bioethics, please visit

For event-related questions, please contact [email protected]

Contact Information

SPS Alumni Relations