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Image Credit: BBAW/Angelika Fischer

On 7 and 8 July 2022, the Oxford Berlin Research Partnership hosted a Symposium entitled "Academics in the Public Sphere: Navigating the Political"

From Black Lives Matter to the Pandemic, the ethics of AI and misinformation in times of war, a myriad of voices have entered the key debates of our time on social platforms while science and academia have becoming increasingly politicised and at times sidelined. Experts who engage directly with different audiences face huge challenges in communicating facts and truth in times of political polarization and conflict.

The OX|BER Research Partnership gathered academics and public figures from both sides of the Channel to talk about free speech, confronting the colonial past, about the internet and hate speech, and about explaining complex issues in a meaningful way.

Chris Patten, Erika Fischer-Lichte, Timothy Garton Ash and many other influential experts came together for two days of exciting discussions and talks in Berlin. The symposium was organised by the Oxford Berlin Research Partnership. The four sessions explored the issues surrounding Speech, Truth and Universal Reason; the Pandemic and Universities; Living and Working with AI; and Multiple Pathways into Diverse Publics. 

Please find the full programme and registration link here.

Speakers and Guests

Session One (I): Speech, Truth and Universal Reason - Truth in an age of conflict

Professor Timothy Garton Ash, Professor of European Studies, University of Oxford

Professor Rasmus Nielsen, Director, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford

Professor Dr Michael Zürn, WZB, Social Science Center, Berlin

Session One (II): Speech, Truth and Universal Reason - Confronting the past/legacies of Enlightenment

Professor Elleke Boehmer, Professor of World Literature in English, University of Oxford

Professor Laura van Broekhoven, Director, Pitt Rivers Museum,

Professor Avi Lifschitz, Faculty of History, University of Oxford

Professor Dr Herman Parzinger, President, Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz


Professor Dr Christoph Markschies, President, Berlin Brandenburg Academy of Sciences

Professor Dr Anita Traninger, Freie Universität Berlin

Session Two – The Pandemic and the Universities

Professor Dame Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor, University of Oxford

Professor Dr Heyo Kroemer, Chief Executive Officer, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin

Professor Teresa Lambe, Oxford Vaccine Group, University of Oxford

Professor Dr Leif Erik Sander, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin


Professor Chris Conlon, Head of the Experimental Medicine Division, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford

Professor Dr Axel R. Pries, Dean Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and Chair of World Health Summit

Session Three – Living and Working with AI

Professor Ioannis Havoutis, Oxford Robotics Institute, University of Oxford

Professor John Tasioulas, Director, Institute for Ethics in AI, University of Oxford

Professor Abigail Williams, Professor of English Literature, University of Oxford

Professor Dr Michelle Christensen, Technische Universität Berlin and Einstein Centre for Digital Future

Professor Dr Jürgen Mlynek, Professor, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, former president of Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers (2005-2015)


Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt, Principal, Jesus College, University of Oxford

Professor Dr Peter Neubauer, Technische Universität Berlin

Session Four (I): Multiple pathways into varied publics - The production and diffusion of academic knowledge

Professor Dr Verena Blechinger-Talcott, Professor of Japanese Politics and Vice-President of Freie Universität Berlin

Niko Pfund, President and Academic Publisher, Oxford University Press, New York

Professor Dr Martin Rennert, Chair of the Executive Board, Einstein Stiftung

Professor Johannes Vogel, PhD, Director General, Museum für Naturkunde Berlin

Session Four (II): Multiple pathways into varied publics - Truth-telling, cultural performance and literature

Dr Samson Kambalu, Associate Professor of Fine Art and Director of Research, Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford

Professor Dr Dr h.c. Erika Fischer-Lichte, Freie Universität Berlin, Director IRC Interweaving Performance Cultures

Professor Dr Norbert Palz, President, Universität der Künste Berlin

Ulrike Almut Sandig, Performance Poet


Professor Karen Leeder, Professor of Modern German Literature, University of Oxford

Professor Dr Eva Geulen, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and Director, Leibniz-Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung