Skip to main content

Fiona Hill giving a speech

Our new Chancellor Fiona Hill is among four leading thinkers chosen to deliver a prestigious BBC Reith Lecture this December.

Dr Hill, a foreign affairs specialist, follows in the footsteps of famous faces such as Stephen Hawking, Hilary Mantel and Grayson Perry who have all delivered Reith Lectures in the past.  

What is a Reith Lecture? 

The Reith Lectures are a highly respected series of annual lectures delivered by world leading experts in their field, including in academia, the arts and politics. 

They were introduced by the BBC in 1948 with the aim of improving public understanding of a current issue of interest. 

The lectures are named after the BBC’s first director-general Lord Reith who was passionate that public broadcasting should be used to enrich the nation’s intellectual and cultural life. 

What is Dr Hill’s lecture about? 

Dr Hill will give her lecture on ‘freedom from fear’ as part of a series of four inspired by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s ‘Four Freedoms’ speech of January 1941.  

It follows 2022 lectures from award-winning author Ngozi Adichie, former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Rowan Williams and Orwell Prize-winning writer Darren McGarvey as part of special series to mark the BBC’s 100th anniversary. 

Dr Hill, who has advised US Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump on foreign affairs, has used her expertise in Russian and European geopolitics to inform her lecture. 

She will focus on the year 1922 which not only marks the year the BBC was founded, but also the creation of Soviet Ukraine following the Russian Revolution and Civil War. 

Dr Hill will draw on this period to discuss how knowledge can help us allay our fears and better understand the world.  

When can I listen to it? 

Dr Hill’s lecture will air on BBC Radio Four at 9am on Wednesday 21 December. 

It will be available to listen to and download on BBC Sounds and will also be broadcast to a global radio audience via the BBC World Service. 

Dr Hill will be officially installed as Durham University’s Chancellor in a ceremony at Durham Cathedral in summer 2023. 

She is and will remain a senior fellow in the Center on the United States and Europe, in the Foreign Policy programme at the Brookings Institution, a non-profit public policy organisation based in Washington DC. 

Find out more