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Please note: this event has passed


This is the second session of the King's Presidential Series on Academic Freedom. It will focus on the relationship between academic freedom and freedom of speech as reflected in recent formal codifications, new and continuing higher education practices, and public debates.

It will address the questions of whether there is a current trend to misconstrue and regulate academic freedom in terms of ‘freedom of expression’ alone, and what the consequences are of conflating both concepts.

Introductory remarks: Prof Shitij Kapur, President & Principal of King's College London.

Background paper: Prof Liviu Matei, Head of the School of Education, Communication & Society, King's College London.

Panellists include:

  • The Rt Hon. Lord David Willetts, President of the Resolution Foundation’s Advisory Council and Intergenerational Centre, Visiting Professor at King’s College London, former Minister for Universities and Science.
  • Dr Naomi Waltham-Smith, Reader and Chair of the Academic Freedom Review Committee and Member of Council at the University of Warwick.
  • Nicola Dandridge, Professor of Higher Education Policy at Bristol University, former Chief Executive of the Office for Students, former Chief Executive of Universities UK.
  • Prof Frans Berkhout, Assistant Principal (King's Climate & Sustainability), Professor of Environment, Society and Climate at King's College London.

After the event, there will be drinks and a light buffet (vegan) from 20:30 to 21:30. Please indicate, when reserving your ticket, if you will be attending the buffet and if you have any allergies or intolerances.

This is a hybrid event so it will take place in person, but some contributions will be online. There is also the option for audience members to join online if they wish - please select the virtual ticket option if you wish to join online only and you will be sent the Zoom link in advance of the event.

Background paper: How academic freedom and freedom of speech inter-relate and differ

Prepared by Dr Liviu Matei, Head of the School of Education, Communication & Society, King's College London.

  • Background paper-Academic Freedom session 2 - (pdf) 184 Kb
  • Speaker biographies

    The Rt Hon. Lord David Willetts is the President of the Resolution Foundation. He served as the Member of Parliament for Havant between 1992-2015 and as Minister for Universities and Science between 2010-2014 and previously worked at The Treasury and the No. 10 Policy Unit. He is currently Chair of the UK Space Agency, a Board member of UK Research and Innovation, and a visiting Professor at King’s College London. He is the Chair of Innovate Cambridge and an Honorary Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford.

    Lord Willetts has written widely on economic and social policy. One of his recent books is A University Education (2017), a compelling inquiry into the role of the university in society in recent and not so recent times. 

    Nicola Dandridge is a Professor of Higher Education Policy at the University of Bristol. She is particularly interested in facilitating policy engagement and public debate in relation to Higher Education governance, and supports university initiatives that relate to improving the student experience. She was Chief Executive of the Office for Students from 2017 to April 2022, and Chief Executive of Universities UK (UUK) from 2007 to 2017, positioning universities as part of the government's social, economic and international agendas, and leading public-facing campaigns to promote the role of universities.

    Dr Naomi Waltham-Smith is a Reader and Deputy Chair of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Warwick, where she also chairs the Academic Freedom Review Committee and sits on Council. Her research focuses on the philosophy and politics of listening, and she is writing a book on the overlooked role of listening in negotiating the entanglements of free speech, democracy, minority rights, and anti-racism. These perspectives inform her work leading on an extensive new policy framework for academic freedom and freedom of expression at Warwick and her contributions more broadly to issues of academic governance, inclusive participation, and the regulation of dissenting expression in the evolving UK Higher Education policy landscape.

    Professor Frans Berkhout is Assistant Principal (King’s Climate & Sustainability) and a Professor of Environment, Society and Climate at King’s College London. He joined King’s in 2013 and was the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Social Science & Public Policy between 2015 and 2021. He was previously Director of the Future Earth programme, based at the International Council for Science in Paris, and Director of the Institute for Environmental Studies at the VU University Amsterdam in The Netherlands. His research has been concerned with science, technology, policy and sustainability, with a focus on sustainable innovation and climate change.

    This was the inaugural event to the King's Presidential Series on Academic Freedom.

    Event details

    The Exchange, Bush House
    The Exchange
    Bush House North East Wing, Aldwych , WC2B 4BG