ELAC Human Rights Program Director
BiographyCheyney Ryan was a fellow of Oxford's Changing Character of War Program in 2008, and has been a fellow of the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law, and Armed Conflict since 2010. He is currently Director of Human Rights Programs for ELAC, co-chair of the Oxford Consortium on Human Rights, and a member of Merton College.
Dr. Ryan is engaged in a multi-year project exploring the relation of pacifism and non-violence to contemporary just war theory. He focuses on the philosophical and historical contexts of these perspectives; he is interested in both their secular and religious forms. His aim is to develop the pacifist alternative in ways that are sensitive to the contemporary reality and challenges of war. He invites inquires from anyone interested in this project.
He has written on these issues for many years, starting with his article "Pacifism, Self Defense, and the Possibility of Killing" (Ethics 1983). His most recent book is War, Sacrifice, and Personal Responsibility (The Chickenhawk Syndrome) (Roman and Littlefield, 2009). Recent articles include "Pacifism", Oxford Handbook on the Ethics of War, "Bearers of Hope: On the Paradox of Non-Violent Action", in The Ethics of Soft War, “The Hard Hand of War”, Law and Philosophy (forthcoming 2017).
Dr. Ryan comes to these issues from a background in political activism. He came to pacifism working with Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement in the 1960's. He was involved with the anti-war movement in the late 60's and early 70's (he was expelled from college for political protests). He later became involved in migrant labor issues, working with the United Farmworkers Union on anti-pesticide activism. Since then, he has focused on issues international conflict. He has been named by Washington Post as one of nation's twenty leading scholars "on the frontier of peace and conflict studies”.
Dr. Ryan has recently given the Tanner-McMurrin Lecture on "The Religious Witness Against War" (Utah) and the 'Or' Emet Lecture on "Pragmatism and Vision in Conflict Resolution" (York University).