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Featured Lectures


The University attracts a wide range of distinguished speakers, conferences and debates. Here we feature some of our event highlights.

Shaping a better world podcast logo
Shaping A Better World: 2020 And Beyond

Amidst this period of global change and uncertainty, academics at Queen’s are at the heart of local, national and international efforts to expand our knowledge of the pandemic and in helping society to comprehend a way forward.

Vibrant academic debate and discussion continues at Queen’s, virtually. Here we share a range of recent virtual conferences, podcasts and articles.

Shaping a Better World: Debate and Discussion
Book opening on black background
McCosh Lecture 2020

Networks, Nodes and Nuclei: Towards a New Theory of Religious Change

This lecture was broadcast live in September 2020.  The speaker for this year's lecture is David Hempton (Dean, Harvard Divinity School). This lecture is in partnership with the British Academy and Harvard University.

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Tedx 2020 Adapt and Change poster
Adapt and change

The second independently organised TED event, entitled 'ADAPT and CHANGE' was a digital event held on 10 June 2020.

The programme of talks by Queen's University academics offered informed opinioned pieces and reflections on the changes taking place around us as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

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Michel Barnier
Michel Barnier delivers the William J. Clinton Leadership lecture at Queen's

Reflections on Brexit and the European Union.

Former European Chief Negotiator for the UK exiting the EU and current Head of Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom, Michel Barnier, delivered the William J. Clinton Leadership lecture at Queen’s University Belfast, days before the UK is set to leave the European Union on Friday 31 January, 2020.

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Key figures from the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement gathered at Queen’s University Belfast on Tuesday, 10 April 2018 for a public event to mark 20 years on from the signing of the peace agreement.

Chair of the talks and former US Special Envoy for Northern Ireland, Senator George J. Mitchell was joined by Dr Bill Clinton, Dr Tony Blair, Jonathan Powell, Dr Bertie Ahern, Gerry Adams, Lord David Trimble, Professor Monica McWilliams, Dr Seamus Mallon, Lord John Alderdice, and Peter Robinson as well as a number of community leaders and academics.

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Is War between Science and Religion inevitable?

In the seventeenth century the Church condemned Galileo for teaching that the earth revolved around the sun.

In the twenty-first century Creationists and Darwinians attack each other in the courtroom over the teaching of evolution in schools. No wonder that the idea of a perpetual warfare between science and religion has gripped the popular imagination.

Two leading scholars, Professor David Livingstone (Queen’s University Belfast) and Professor John Hedley Brooke (Oxford), took up this issue and asked: Is war between science and religion inevitable? Or are there other ways of thinking about the whole issue?

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Hillary Clinton in her graduation robes
Honorary Degree Ceremony – Secretary Hillary Clinton

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton receives Honorary Degree

Secretary Clinton was awarded the degree of Doctor of Laws (LLD) for her exceptional public service in the USA and globally, and for her outstanding contribution to peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.

At the honorary graduation ceremony Secretary Clinton addressed the audience of staff and students from the University, talking about the political situation in Northern Ireland; the peace process and Good Friday Agreement; Brexit and democracy. 

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Speakers at the Global Conflict conference
Global Conflict | The Human Impact conference

The Pearson Institute at the University of Chicago and the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen's hosted Global Conflict | The Human Impact conference.

Coming two decades after the Good Friday Agreement, and timed to coincide with the Papal visit to Ireland, this conference offered a distinctive opportunity to assess the lessons learned from the peace agreement, as well as the daunting challenges and human toll of the world's current refugee crisis; the largest population of displaced people since World War II.

The conference addressed the human cost of violent conflict and identifed emerging strategies for conflict resolution.

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Tractor in a field
Feeding Nine Billion Debate

If the global population increases to 9 billion by 2050 as projected, we will need to produce more food over the next 50 years than we have in the last 500 years.

Food safety experts Professor Chris Elliott, founder of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast and Michelle Grant, Executive Director of the World Food System Centre at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, discussed the challenges facing consumers and industry alike. 

A growing demand on food production will place huge strains on the integrity of the supply system in terms of ensuring what is produced is safe, wholesome, authentic and values all those involved.  

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Heaney Event in New York
Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen's host showcase event in New York

The event celebrated fifteen years of the Centre introduced new writers and initiatives.

The event, which took place at the Lotte New York Palace, was hosted by the President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, Professor Ian Greer.

Speakers included Professor Glenn Patterson, Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s; Colin Davidson, artist and Honorary Graduate of Queen’s; Dr Leontia Flynn, poet and writer; Dr Stephen Sexton, poet; Professor Nick Laird, poet, novelist and screenwriter; and Erin Lynn, New York-based poet, teacher and Queen’s graduate.

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John Bercow  in front of the Lanyon
Commons Speaker Delivers Lecture at Queen's

Former Speaker of the House of Commons, The Right Honorable John Bercow, MP, has delivered a major lecture at Queen’s in which he urged students to play a more active role in politics.

Just days before the Prime Minister stepped down – and the Conservative leadership contest got underway – the Speaker of the House of Commons told the 300-strong gathering that public engagement is higher than ever.

During the lecture entitled 'How Parliament Works: A view from the Chair', John Bercow said arguments over Brexit, the October 31 deadline for leaving the EU, and the Northern Ireland backstop had renewed interest in parliamentary processes and the role of MPs.

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Jeremy Corbyn
The Right Honourable Jeremy Corbyn, MP, visits Queen's

Mr Corbyn addressed a packed Whitla Hall on the legacy of the Belfast or Good Friday Agreement.

Urging local political leaders to collaborate to get the Northern Ireland Assebly back up and running, Mr Corbyn added: "You see, I have always believed that to bring about real change, to end conflict, to bring communities together, you have to talk to people with whom you don’t agree. In 1998 we were fortunate to have leaders who were prepared to put that principle into practice."

During the visit Mr Corbyn met local political leaders, senior representatives of the University, and a range of students and members of the community.

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Leo Varadkar with staff in front of the Lanyon
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar visits Queen’s University Belfast

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has met with Queen’s University Belfast’s Acting President and Vice Chancellor to discuss Brexit and Higher Education.

The Taoiseach also attended a civic engagement with business and community leaders, hosted by Professor Richard English, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Internationalisation and Engagement.

The civic event was attended by representatives from the Ulster Farmers Union, NICVA, Confederation of British Industry NI, NI Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Federation of Small Businesses, Institute of Directors, Hospitality Ulster and Retail NI.

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Professor William C. Campbell
Professor William C. Campbell, Nobel Laureate visits Queen's University

The Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences were delighted to welcome Professor William C. Campbell, Nobel Laureate,to deliver a prestigious lecture in The Great Hall.

A capacity audience gathered to hear Professor Campbell’s lecture, ‘Finding Ivermectin: A Medication for the Control of River Blindness and other Parasitoses’. Professor James McElnay, Acting President and Vice-Chancellor, welcomed the audience and introduced Professor Campbell.

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The Future of the Corporation, Economy and Society

Queen’s University, in partnership with the British Academy, co-hosted a debate on ‘The Future of the Corporation, Economy and Society’.

The Future of the Corporation is a major new initiative by the British Academy that is addressing the purpose of business and asking what its role in society should be. It is led by Professor Colin Mayer FBA, Peter Moores Professor of Management Studies at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.

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Judging Carson and Redmond

We recently co-hosted a debate discussing two of the biggest names in modern Irish history, Edward Carson and John Redmond.

The key speaker was Professor Alvin Jackson, one of the most prominent historians of modern Ireland.

The debate was followed by a Q&A session, chaired by Professor Richard English, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Internationalisation and Engagement at Queen’s.

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Academics outside the Lanyon
Victims, Perpetrators And The Legacies Of Violent Conflict

A debate in Queen's University Belfast, hosted in partnership with the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice.

The key speakers were Dr James Waller, Cohen Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies, and Chair of the department at Keene State College, New Hampshire; and Dr Cheryl Lawther, Lecturer at the School of Law and Senior Research Fellow at the Mitchell Institute at Queen’s.

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Staff at the Pivotal launch
First event for Northern Ireland's new public policy think tank

Launch of Pivotal Public Policy – with Pivotal and University of Ulster

The newly established organisation was welcomed at an event at Queen’s University Belfast, which was attended by representatives from both the public and private sectors as well as politicians, academics, educationalists and students, and featured the unveiling of new research by Professor Tony Gallagher entitled ‘Education, Equality and the Economy’.

Pivotal is a new venture created to provide Northern Ireland with an independent policy forum dedicated to developing long–term evidence-based thinking, contributing substantially to public debate and developing new policy networks to meet Northern Ireland’s needs.

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Brexit, Medicine and Beyond conference members
Queen's University hosts ‘Brexit, Medicine and Beyond' event

Medicine, Brexit and Beyond – an event with the Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons in Ireland, Scotland and England

Queen’s University Belfast and the Presidents of Royal Medical Colleges in Ireland, England and Scotland, hosted more than 150 doctors from the island of Ireland, England and Scotland to discuss the wide range of challenges that Brexit will create for the health services in these jurisdictions.

The Presidents of Royal Medical Colleges in Ireland, England and Scotland issued a stark warning to politicians that protecting access to cross-border healthcare and patient safety must be a top priority as Brexit nears.

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Professor Diarmaid Ferriter with Professor Richard English
Queen’s University hosts public talk by Professor Diarmaid Ferriter

Queen's recently hosted a public talk by Professor Diarmaid Ferriter on 'The Border: The Legacy of a Century of Anglo-Irish Politics'.

Professor Ferriter is one of Ireland’s best-known historians and Professor of Modern Irish History at University College Dublin.

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In his talk, “Borders and Belonging: British and Irish identities in a post-Brexit era”, O’Toole examined issues including changes in the English sense of identity, the impact of the Brexit referendum, and the changes in the sense of British, Irish and Northern Irish identities put in play by the Belfast or Good Friday Agreement.

Fintan O'Toole 2018
John Bell Day

A NEW QUANTUM REVOLUTION: From Einstein's Questions to Quantum Information - Professor Alain Aspect

The Chief Executives’ Club at Queen’s University Belfast and the Royal Irish Academy were delighted to welcome Professor Alain Aspect ForMemRS; eminent French Physicist from the Institut D'Optique, Université Paris-Saclay to deliver the 2019 John Bell Day Lecture on Wednesday 6 November.

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Stathis Kalyvas and staff members
Leading Oxford Academic delivered Frank Wright Memorial Lecture at Queen’s

Professor Stathis Kalyvas recently delivered the Frank Wright Memorial lecture in the Council Chamber at Queen's University Belfast on the theme of ‘Global Change and Civil Wars’.

Professor Kalyvas is Gladstone Professor of Government at the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford and Fellow of All Souls College.  His research focuses on global trends in civil conflict and political violence, and the history and politics of Greece.

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Unions and Unionism conference members
Unions and Unionisms Symposium

Queen's University Belfast, in partnership with the University of Aberdeen, the University of Edinburgh and the Centre on Constitutional Change, hosted a symposium on 'Unions and Unionisms',

Leading political researchers and academics from across the UK and Ireland took part in the hosted by Queen's University Belfast in partnership with the Centre on Constitutional Change, University of Edinburgh and The Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies, University of Aberdeen, delegates heard from experts on a unionism in Ireland, England and Wales, and on the contest between advocates of Catalan independence and Spanish unity.

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Qpol logo

Queen’s Policy Engagement is the ‘front door’ for public policy engagement at Queen’s

QPOL aims to inspire intelligent debate between democratic institutions, academia and wider society in a vast array of policy areas including the economy, public health, social justice and more.

Previous lectures have been delivered by Sinn Féin Vice-President Michelle O'Neill, Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party Robin Swann and Former First Minister of Northern Ireland Peter Robinson.

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‘Rights, responsibilities and respect: building the common good’

Conor McGinn, MP gives the inaugural Queen's University Equality and Diversity Lecture on ‘Rights, responsibilities and respect: building the common good’.

Mr McGinn's talk, entitled ‘Rights, responsibilities and respect: building the common good’, included a call for a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland, an instrument that could address issues including women’s rights, language rights and equal marriage rights for the LGBT community.

Conor McGinn
Sir Bernard Crossland
Annual Sir Bernard Crossland Lectures

Each year Engineers Ireland and Queen’s University Belfast, in association with The Institution of Engineering and Technology host exciting speakers from the fields of engineering.

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Declan Kelly
Declan Kelly Teneo Lectures

The Chief Executives’ Club at Queen’s and Queen's Business School are delighted to have welcomed a range of exciting speakers over the past three years.


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Bertie Ahern, the VC and guests outside the Lanyon building
Former Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern delivers Harri Holkeri lecture

The lecture was organised by the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen’s in partnership with the Embassy of Finland.

The Harri Holkeri Lecture Series recognises and celebrates the contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process of the late Finnish Prime Minister Harri Holkeri. Holkeri’s aspiration to transform conflict and promote social justice in Northern Ireland and across the world is shared by the Institute.

In his lecture – Peace Process – In light of Brexit Issues – on Tuesday 21 May, in a packed Canada Room/Council Chamber, Mr Ahern spoke about the current political situation in Northern Ireland, Brexit and 21 years on from the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.

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Michael D Higgins outside the Lanyon building
President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins delivers annual Harri Holkeri lecture

President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins visited Queen's to deliver the Sixth Annual Harri Holkeri Lecture, organised by the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice.

The President gave his speech on the twentirth anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, built around the concepts of ‘remembering, forgiving, forgetting, and imagining’.

Acting Director of the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen’s, Professor John Brewer said: “The Annual Harri Holkeri Lecture is one of the significant events in the calendar of the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute and there is no public figure more prominent this year to grace the Lecture than President Higgins.

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