Professor Ben Ansell named BBC Radio 4's 2023 Reith Lecturer

DPIR’s Professor of Comparative Democratic Institutions, Ben Ansell, has been announced today by the BBC as the corporation’s 73rd Reith lecturer. Ben will be the next in a long line of highly-distinguished intellectuals – including Professor Stephen Hawking, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Hilary Mantel – to deliver a series of lectures in commemoration of the BBC’s first Director-General, Lord Reith. Titled Our Democratic Future, the four lectures will be held in the UK, Germany and United States this autumn.

Inspired by his book Why Politics Fails, each of the lectures will focus on a specific theme related to the challenges that ‘liberal democracies’ across the globe are facing:

  • The Future of Democracy – to be held in London, will focus on whether democracies are at risk of breakdown and authoritarianism.
  • The Future of Security – to be held in Berlin, will ask if wealthy countries are complacent about threats from abroad and ask what can be done.
  • The Future of Solidarity – to be held in Sunderland, will explore how we can have a shared sense of belonging in today’s polarised societies.
  • The Future of Prosperity – to be held in Atlanta, Georgia, will ask whether we can continue growing economically without despoiling the Earth.

Ben says: "I am deeply honoured to have been chosen as this year’s Reith lecturer. We live in a time of great political turmoil and stand at the cusp of profound technological and ecological changes. Now is a crucial moment to think about whether our political institutions are fit to face these challenges and what we can do as a community to ensure our democratic future. My lectures will draw on big political ideas and cutting-edge research in the social sciences to suggest how we can collectively address these existential questions."

The Reith Lectures have always sought to showcase the most interesting thinking around, and Ben Ansell is an exciting emerging voice in the world of political science, with a distinctive take on what the challenges we face are, and what we might do about them."
Mohit Bakaya, Director of Speech Audio and Controller of BBC Radio 4 and 4 Extra

The first lecture – The Future of Democracy – will take place on 30 October in London, and audiences can apply for free tickets from Wednesday 20 September via the BBC website. The recordings will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Sounds later in the year.