Nuffield College is delighted to announce that Ben Ansell, Professor of Comparative Democratic Institutions, has been named by the BBC as this year’s Reith lecturer. The Reith lectures were set up in 1948 in memory of the BBC’s first director general, Lord Reith, with the enduring aim of improving ‘public understanding and debate about significant issues of contemporary interest’. With just one Reith lecturer chosen each year, Ben joins a very exclusive list of high-profile names that includes the likes of Bertrand Russell, Robert Oppenheimer, Eliza Manningham-Butler and Stephen Hawking.
Throughout the autumn, Ben will deliver four Reith lectures in London, Berlin, Sunderland and Atlanta. Under the overarching title of ‘Our Democratic Future’, each lecture will focus on a specific political area and will draw on Ben’s own leading research, inviting listeners to consider the future of democracy, security, solidarity and prosperity. The lectures will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and available to listen to afterwards.
Ben’s research has ranged from the politics of education to wealth inequality, and his latest book, Why Politics Fails, explores the difficulty of achieving widely shared goals while motivated by self-interest. In a post-Brexit, post-Trump world, this research is particularly timely. Having studied and worked on both sides of the Atlantic, Ben is well placed to examine the political views of both US and UK citizens, while bringing in examples from around the world and from ancient history to the present day.
We all look forward to listening to Ben’s Reith lectures in the autumn. Read more on the University’s website.