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Inaugural and Valedictory Lectures

Professor Michael Kenny's Inaugural Lecture

How should the UK govern itself in the time of Brexit?

Thursday 28th March 2019

British politics has been riven by the result of the EU Referendum of June 2016. But what does Brexit mean for the way in which the UK should itself be governed? This lecture explores this question, focusing in particular upon some of the increasingly apparent strains in its internal territorial constitution. It situates the conflicts associated with the Northern Irish border and the devolved governments in a historical perspective, and seeks to explain why territorial issues have become so deeply politicised in the 21st century – and now in the English heartland, as well as beyond it. And it makes the case for a new blend of self-government and shared government across the UK, and more place-sensitive public policies, if the domestic union is to withstand the current crisis in British politics.

Professor Michael Kenny is the Director of the Bennett Institute for Public Policy, where he leads research in place and public policy, and re-making government in the 21st century.

Professor Diane Coyle’s Inaugural Lecture

Cogs and Monsters: economists, experts and measuring progress

Tuesday 20th November 2018

Economists have long offered advice as if for a clockwork universe, and for long enough this analytical tradition has made economics highly influential in public policy. Now, though, their expertise is disdained, economic 'facts' become matters of opinion, and belief in the idea of economic progress appears to be fading. Ideas have a dangerous habit of bringing about their own reality; so rethinking how to define and measure prosperity, and reflecting on the role of economics in public policy, have become pressing challenges.

Professor Diane Coyle is the new Bennett Professor of Public Policy in the Department of Politics and International Studies.


Professor Jason Sharman's Inaugural Lecture

Global Governance and Grand Corruption: The International Politics and Policy of Looted Wealth

Monday 23rd October 2017

As International Relations scholars have been drawn to the study of global governance, their field of vision has come to overlap with the increasingly internationalised conduct of public policy. This lecture explores this dynamic in analysing an unprecedented new international moral and legal rule that forbids one state from hosting money stolen by the leaders of another state. The aim is to counter grand corruption or kleptocracy, when leaders of poorer countries loot billions of pounds at the expense of their citizens, and transfer the money to rich host countries. Thanks to the new international rules, these host states now have a duty to block, trace, freeze and seize these illicit funds, and hand them back to the countries from which they were stolen. The lecture explains how this anti-kleptocracy regime came about, how well it is working, how it could work better, and the broader implications for the study of international politics and policy.

Professor Jason Sharman is the new Sir Patrick Sheehy Professor of International Relations in the Department of Politics and International Studies.


Professor David Runciman's Inaugural Lecture

Political Theory and Real Politics in the Age of the Internet

Tuesday 24th February 2015

Political theory at Cambridge has sometimes been associated with ‘realism’, in contrast to moralised or idealised views of politics. There are many different ways to be a realist about politics, including the Realpolitik of international relations. Some realists are interested in power; some in legitimacy; some in chance. But how well equipped is any form of realism to make sense of politics in the twenty-first century, when so much of what it refers to has migrated online? Do we even know what makes politics real any more? This lecture explored the varieties of realism in political theory, and asked what it might mean to have a realistic theory of politics in the age of the internet.

Professor David Runciman is Head of the Department of Politics and International Studies, and Professor of Politics. You can view the first ten minutes of his lecture below; to view or download the full lecture, please go here. 


Professor Christopher Hill's Valedictory Lecture

What is left of the international?

Wednesday 4th May 2016

In the century of two world wars and a Cold War one could have been forgiven for thinking that everything important was determined by the movement of world affairs. Now the reverse seems true. International relations are commonly discussed as if hostage to US election campaigns, to the emergence of some new populist movement in Europe, or to the health of the Chinese economy. In universities, although the subject of International Relations is in great demand, its definition in relation to other social sciences, notably politics but also sociology, economics, geography and law, can seem ever more blurred. This lecture considers what, if anything, is still distinctive about the international realm, and what that implies for its future academic study. 

Professor Christopher Hill is a former Head of the Department of Politics and International Studies, and has been the Sir Patrick Sheehy Professor of International Relations since 2004.