We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Durham University News


Can politics be moral?

(18 December 2019)

Rowan Williams

Following on from the successful inaugural event in October with Lady Hale, the interest in the Durham Global Lecture Series continued in London on 20 November. On this occasion we were joined by Dr Rowan Williams, Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge and former Archbishop of Canterbury, who, as he stated himself, has been a friend of Durham University for many years.

Different aspects of politics

In a thought-provoking and detailed lecture to the invited guests, Williams brought in his extensive knowledge and academic research, including of politics past and present, to question and present his views on the morality of politics.

As he laid out from the start, those looking for a one word answer to his question would be disappointed. But he invited the audience to question what we are asking of our politicians today, and to think about the different aspects of politics – namely awareness, empathy and strategy – and how these are approached by different personalities.

While he was careful not to offer any predictions on the (then) forthcoming general election, from the volume of questions asked at the close of the lecture, and the variety of discussions taking place during the reception that followed, it is clear that Dr Williams captured the audience and sparked interest and debate on this very topical matter. 

What are the Durham Global Lectures?

In giving a platform to high calibre spearkers and thought leaders through the lecture series, our aim to is encourage discussion and debate on an international platform and to grow the University’s presence globally.

Our position in QS and THE World Rankings demonstrates the outstanding quality of our research, education and overall student experienc. But we want to do more to reach out to our broad network of contacts in London and around the world so they can experience our ambitions for themselves.

Future events


The lecture series continues in 2020 with Darren Henley OBE, Chief Executive of the Arts Council, England. 


Further lectures will be announced in the New Year and we extend our thanks to the University of Notre Dame (USA) in England for hosting us at the London Global Gateway, which acts as a centralised location for us to collaborate on our shared scholarly work.


Find out more


To view photos and video footage of Rowan Williams’ lecture and to find out more about the Durham Global Lecture Series, visit:


Discover more about Durham’s success in national and international league tables.


Interested in engaging with the work of the University? Contact us at our London office via our Director of Public Affairs, Rachael Richards