Durham University Chancellor to deliver BBC Reith lecture

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Dr Fiona Hill, who was appointed as Durham University’s Chancellor last month, has been selected to give a prestigious Reith lecture for the BBC this December. Dr Hill’s lecture will be the final talk in a series of four given this year to mark the BBC’s centenary year.

Dr Hill’s lecture will be titled ‘Freedom from Fear’ and is part of a series of four inspired by the “Four Freedoms” speech given in 1941 by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

A focal point will be the year 1922, which is significant as the year the BBC was founded, and for the creation of Soviet Ukraine after the Russian Revolution and Civil War.

Dr Hill’s lecture will air on BBC Radio Four at 9am on Wednesday 21 December. It will be available to listen to and download on BBC Sounds and will also be broadcast to a global radio audience via the BBC World Service. Her lecture will be followed by a question-and-answer session chaired by BBC journalist Anita Anand.

The Reith lectures are a series of annual BBC Radio lectures given by leading figures of the day, endeavouring to advance public interest and debate concerning economic, political and global affairs. They were first introduced by the BBC in 1948, named after Lord Reith, the BBC’s first director-general.


She will draw on her lengthy career in geopolitics to inform her lecture.

The first lecturer was the philosopher and Nobel Laureate, Bertrand Russel. Previous Reith lecturers have included Stephen Hawking, Grayson Perry and His Royal Highness Charles III.

Earlier this year, Reith lectures were also given by award-winning author Ngozi Adichie, former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Rowan Williams and Orwell Prize-winning writer Darren McGarvey to mark a special series commemorating the BBC’s 100th anniversary. Dr Hill’s lecture will be the last in this series.

Dr Hill was born in Bishop Auckland and has since become a British-American foreign affairs specialist and author. She has held the position of presidential advisor to George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump, specializing in Russian and European affairs.

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

Image: Scott Kowalchyk / CBS via GettyImages

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