Distinguished Lecture Series: Lech Wałęsa, Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Former President of Poland

Lech Wałęsa, the Polish leader whose labor movement helped spark the end of the Iron Curtain, will speak and answer questions Wednesday at the University of San Diego.

Hosted by USD’s Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, Wałęsa’s talk is titled “The Fall of Communism, Russia and the War in Ukraine.”

The former Polish president also will discuss current world events, his view of the United States’ role on the global stage, the history of the Solidarity Movement and “his vision for a prosperous future,” the school said.

His lecture — at 6 p.m. in the Kroc IPJ Theatre — will be followed by a Q&A session moderated by Patricia Márquez, dean of the Kroc School of Peace Studies.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner’s talk will be live-streamed on YouTube.

The private school had been working on the visit since September, and it was announced Oct. 14, a school spokeswoman told Times of San Diego.

“Walesa’s team reached out to the University of San Diego about a speaking opportunity because he is passionate about educating youth about democracy and global peace,” said spokeswoman Cameran Zech. “The University of San Diego felt this would be a perfect fit for the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice’s Distinguished Lecture Series because of all the great work the institute does in the peace field.”

Pre-registration for the free event is closed. (Theater capacity is about 300.) So interested people are being pointed to the event livestream.

Wałęsa, 79, was co-founder of the Solidarity Movement that led to the first democratic elections in Poland in 1989, the fall of communism in Poland, and helped lead to the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.

He was the first democratically elected leader of Poland since 1926 and the first ever Polish leader elected by popular vote. He presided over Poland’s transition from communism to free-market capitalism and liberal democracy.

Previous lectures in the series were given by the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, former Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell and famed animal welfare activist Jane Goodall.

Updated at 7:43 p.m. Nov. 14, 2022