The Holberg Debate is inspired by Ludvig Holberg as man of the Age of Enlightenment and seeks explore pressing issues of our time. The debate will be held annually on 3 December, Holberg’s birthday, starting this year
The Holberg Prize has invited Professor Timothy Garton Ash of the University of Oxford, one of the great political writers of our time, to elaborate on the central themes of his 2016 book Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World. Following an interview with Anine Kierulf, Professor Garton Ash will join in a panel discussion with Jostein Gripsrud and Kari Steen-Johnsen about dilemmas related to free speech, information controll and the need for civilized conflict in modern multicultural societies.
Read more at the event page.
Topics for discussion
• Words and images can be immensely powerful tools. What challenges are we facing in the digital age, where an audience of millions can be reached in seconds?
• How can we build a framework for ‘civilized conflict’ in multicultural societies where different world views determine which types of expression that are deemed unacceptable? Who should have the power to define what is improper and offensive when it relates to f.i. the criticising of cultures and religious-political mindsets?
• How can policy address central dilemmas relating to free speech, and what kind of expressions should be regulated by law? How do we ensure that people can express themselves freely within reason, without being silenced neither by hateful rhetoric, nor by fear that their opinions may be unacceptable to the majority or to the authorities?
• Our world become not only digital; it is now also a global theatre of information warfare where powerful actors have conflicting interests. Censorship and manipulation of information is practiced both by state actors, news media and social media. How does this affect political power dynamics and freedom of speech?
• How do we balance the need for secrecy with the desire for free speech and an informed public, when whistle-blowers and hackers may influence the outcome of anything from popular elections to wars and revolutions?
Holberg Debate Participants
Timothy Garton Ash is Professor of European Studies and Director of the European Studies Centre at St. Antony's College, University of Oxford. His research has focused on European history and on the challenges of combining freedom and diversity, in particular with respect to freedom of speech. His most recent book is Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World (2016).
Jostein Gripsrud is Professor of Media Studies at the University of Bergen. He was the first chair of the Public Service Broadcasting Council 1996-99, a columnist for the daily Dagens Næringsliv 1998-2011 and the initiator and first editor-in-chief of the free speech related online magazine Vox Publica 2006-08.
Kari Steen-Johnsen is Research Director at the Institute for Social Research. Her current projects include «The state of freedom of speech in Norway 2015-2017.» The project focuses on “Boundaries in the Public Sphere,” as they relate to freedom of expression, religion and politics.
Anine Kierulf is a research fellow at the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, University of Oslo. Her main focus is constitutionalism, human rights and freedom of speech. She has received several awards for her involvement in these issues.