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Durham University Chancellor to deliver prestigious BBC Reith Lecture


Durham University’s new Chancellor Fiona Hill is among four leading thinkers chosen to deliver a prestigious BBC Reith Lecture this December.

The Reith Lectures, which are broadcast to a global radio audience, take their name from the BBC's first director-general Lord Reith and were launched in 1948.

Since then, scores of world-leading experts, artists and intellectuals such as Stephen Hawking, Hilary Mantel and Grayson Perry have given a Reith Lecture aired on BBC Radio Four.

Dr Hill, who was announced as Durham University’s new Chancellor in November, will deliver her lecture on ‘Freedom from Fear’ as part of a series of four inspired by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous ‘Four Freedoms’ speech of January 1941.

This unique series of linked lectures was specially commissioned to celebrate 2022 as the BBC’s centenary year.

Dr Hill’s lecture is the last of the 2022 series, following broadcasts by award-winning author Ngozi Adichie, former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Rowan Williams and Orwell Prize-winning writer Darren McGarvey.

Dr Hill, who advised US Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump, has used her expertise in Russian and European geopolitics to inform her lecture.

She will focus on the year 1922 which not only marks the year the BBC was founded, but also the creation of Soviet Ukraine following the Russian Revolution and Civil War.

This tumultuous time saw a rise in organised working-class movements and Dr Hill will draw upon this period to discuss how knowledge can help us allay our fears and better understand the world.

Her lecture will be followed by a question-and-answer session chaired by BBC journalist Anita Anand.

Dr Hill’s Reith Lecture will air on BBC Radio Four at 9am on Wednesday 21 December and will then be available to download on BBC Sounds.

It will also be broadcast to an international radio audience via the BBC World Service.

Dr Hill will be officially installed as Durham University’s Chancellor in a ceremony at Durham Cathedral in summer 2023.

She is and will remain a senior fellow in the Center on the United States and Europe, in the Foreign Policy programme at the Brookings Institution, a non-profit public policy organisation based in Washington DC.


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