The Holberg Debate

The 2021 Holberg Debate panel will consist of Judith Butler, Cornel West and Glenn Greenwald. Moderator: Simon Crtichley. (Photo: University of California, Berkeley; Robin Holland; David dos Santos; Andrew Zuckerman)

The Holberg Debate is an annual event organised by the Holberg Prize. The debate is inspired by Ludvig Holberg's Enlightenment ideas and aims to explore pressing issues of our time.

The Holberg Debate was organised for the first time in 2016 and has since been held annually, on the first Saturday in December. Ludvig Holberg's birthday was 3 December, and the event is inspired by his Enlightenment ideas. The aim is both to see important voices debate pressing issues of our time and to highlight the relevance of the academic fields covered by the Holberg Prize: the humanities, social sciences, law and theology. Thus, the Holberg Debate seeks to engage both the university community and the public at large, and we look to invite well known thinkers with a diverse background, including academics, journalists, authors, film makers and activists.

In this way, the Holberg Prize hopes to contribute to the broader discussion of social and political issues. We also wish to focus on issues of both national and international relevance, as well as to include panellists who may add important perspective to the daily news cycle and the most prominent narratives. Furthermore, we wish to invite the audience to contribute with questions, either from the floor, or via social media, for those watching the livestream in different parts of the world.

The Holberg Debate is always livestreamed, and audio/video will be made available on Youtube, Soundcloud and the Holberg Prize website.

The Holberg Debate Advisory Group

The Holberg Board has appointed an advisory group for the Holberg Debate. The group assists the secretariat in suggesting topics and speakers for the events, and presently consists of the following members:

  • Sirianne Dahlum, Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science, University of Oslo; Senior Reseracher at Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)
  • Marte Michelet, journalist, commentator og author.
  • Frode Helmich Pedersen, Associate Professor at the Department of Linguistic, Literary and Aesthetic Studies, University of Bergen.
  • Lars Fredrik Svendsen, Professor at the Department of Philosophy, University of Bergen.


The Holberg Debates

The 2021 Holberg Debate: "Identity Politics and Culture Wars"

Contributors: Prof. Judith Butler, Prof. Cornel West, Glenn Greenwald. Moderator: Prof. Simon Critchley


The 2020 Holberg Debate: "Is Global Stability a Pipe Dream?"

Contributors: Prof. Yanis Varoufakis and Amb. John Bolton. Moderator: Scott Gates


The 2019 Holberg Debate: 
Slavoj Žižek: "Why I Am Still A Communist"

Contributors: Slavoj Žižek and Tyler Cowen (interviewer and moderator). 


The 2018 Holberg Debate: 
"Politics and Affects: The Dynamics of Social Mobilization"

Contributors: Achille MbembeKathleen CleaverGeorge Galloway and Martine Dennis (moderator).


The 2017 Holberg Debate: "Propaganda, Facts and Fake News"

Contributors: Julian AssangeJonathan Heawood and John Pilger 


The 2016 Holberg Debate:
"Free Speech in an Age of Diversity and Conflict"

Contributors: Timothy Garton AshJostein GripsrudKari Steen-Johnsen and Anine Kierulf (moderator).