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Please see the listings below for details about past HI research projects, some funded or co-funded by the HI and some funded by external grants.

Framing Ageing: A Clinical, Cultural, and Social Dialogue was a Wellcome Trust-funded project in collaboration with the TCD medical humanities (Prof. Des O’Neill, Prof. Mary Cosgrove, Dr Julia Langbein, TCD). Rolled out as webinars during the Covid-19 pandemic, it facilitated methodological exchange between gerontologists, humanities researchers, social scientists, and practitioners from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Great Britain, Austria, Germany, The Netherlands and the USA. 

See (opens in a new window)Project website for further details.

Debating Ageing Banner

Debating Ageing: A Transdisciplinary Engagement Forum

Ageing is an irreversible physiological process that happens in diverse social, cultural and economic settings. How well we age is determined by a myriad of factors, ranging from biology, access to healthcare, financial resources, education and lifestyle to other cultural factors that include how a society perceives and evaluates old age. While much of 20th century culture was defined by a cult of youth, the reality of life in the 21st century is increasing longevity and an ageing population that requires considerable medical, financial, social and other resources. Adapting to retirement, losing loved ones and friends, loneliness, mental health issues, and serious medical problems (such as chronic illness, poor nutrition, and increasing disability), in addition to facing death, are some of the existential challenges that ageing adults face.

Further to this, the ongoing debate about retirement age, pension provisions and the “drain” of the ageing population on resources underlines the intergenerational dimension of old age. On the other hand, older citizens continue to make invaluable contributions to the common good by, for example, providing childcare, disseminating their knowledge and wisdom, working for charities or mentoring younger people.

Our public engagement series aims to examine ageing as a complex phenomenon that requires a transdisciplinary frame of analysis. We propose to adopt a constructive approach that analyses the biological, medical, psychological, social and cultural factors that can facilitate positive experiences of old age. Lectures and workshops will involve academics from health sciences, social sciences, the humanities (including art history, literary disciplines, film studies, musicology, theology and history), medical humanities, psychology, and education while non-academic participants will include nurses and carers, NGOs, UCD in the Community and older adult community groups and people from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds who are willing to reflect on their experience.

9 October 2018 | LECTURE 1: Debating the History of Ageing

(opens in a new window)Professor David Troyansky (Professor of History, Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, The City University of New York)

David G. Troyansky is Professor of History at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is author of Old Age in the Old Regime: Image and Experience in Eighteenth-Century France (Cornell University Press, 1989) and Aging in World History (Routledge, 2016) as well as numerous articles on the history of old age and aspects of French cultural history. He has co-edited three books on French history and Francophone culture, including Transnational Spaces and Identities in the Francophone World (University of Nebraska Press, 2009) and The French Revolution in Culture and Society (Greenwood Press, 1991). He is currently co-editing, with Tim Parkin of the University of Melbourne, a 6-volume Cultural History of Old Age for Bloomsbury Press.

19 November 2018 | LECTURE 2: Lifespan Extension

Lifespan Extension is the second lecture in the series and will look at the future and near term possibilities for extension of lifespan as well as the economic implications of a world in which lifespan might extend beyond 100 years. This will be an interesting discussion on the biological, social and economic aspects of longer lifespans.

The panel of speakers includes:

28 November 2018 | LECTURE 3: ‌Healthy Ageing

Healthy Ageing is the third event in the Debating Ageing series at UCD examining the biological, medical, psychological, social and cultural factors that can facilitate positive experiences of old age. Prof. Dermot Power, Consultant Geriatrician at the Mater Hospital, will lead the event with a keynote lecture on the Biology of Ageing. The keynote will be followed by a panel discussion on Healthy Ageing.

The panel of speakers includes:

  • Prof. Dermot Power, Consultant Geriatrician, Mater Hospital
  • Dr Cliona Ni Cheallaigh, Consultant General Medicine, The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA)
  • Dr Deirdre O’Donnell, Lecturer in Health Systems, UCD, Co-founder Older People’s Empowerment Network.
  • Assoc. Prof. Clare Corish, Associate Professor in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics, Malnutrition in the Elderly (ManuEl) Knowledge Hub
  • Dr Caoilean Murphy, UCD Postdoctoral Research Fellow, NUTRIMAL Project

31 January 2019 | LECTURE 4: ‌Expanding the Imaginarium of Ageing through Cultural Gerontology

This is the fourth event in the Debating Ageing series at UCD examining the biological, medical, psychological, social and cultural factors that can facilitate positive experiences of old age.

(opens in a new window)Professor Desmond O'Neill, consultant physician in geriatric and stroke medicine and Professor in Medical Gerontology, Tallaght University Hospital and Trinity College Dublin will talk on Cultural Gerontology.

Prof Desmond O’Neill is a geriatrician and stroke physician at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. His research centres on gerontology and the neurosciences, with a strong emphasis on the humanities. He has authored over 300 peer-reviewed papers and chapters, and is a co-founder and past-president of the European Union Geriatric Medicine Society www.eugms.org, and currently the Chair of the Humanities and Arts Committee of the Gerontological Society of America and co-chair of Medical and Health Humanities at TCD. He is the Chair of the National Centre for Arts and Health an  has worked with a number of cultural agencies and institutions to develop the concepts of arts, ageing and health. He helped develop the first course for artists in health care in Ireland, has broadcast on Lyric FM (Ireland’s classical music station), and is an active contributor to national media. He was awarded the All-Ireland Inspirational Life Award in 2010 for advancing the cause of older people in Ireland.

21 March 2019 | LECTURE 5: ‌Changing Societies and Ageing Populations: Challenges and Opportunities

A panel discussion with Sarah Donnelly, Stephan Köppe, ÉidínNí Shé and Thilo Kroll.

This is the fifth event in the Debating Ageing series at UCD examining the biological, medical, psychological, social and cultural factors that can facilitate positive experiences of old age.

4 April 2019 | LECTURE 6: ‌The age of Titian: Venice's Oldest Old Master

This is the sixth event in the Debating Ageing series at UCD examining the biological, medical, psychological, social and cultural factors that can facilitate positive experiences of old age.

(opens in a new window)Dr Philip Cottrell, UCD School of Art History and Cultural Policy

This is a free public lecture exploring the issue of working as an artist in old age in the context of Titian's late style.

28 May 2019 | LECTURE 7: ‌Ageing into the Future

This is the final event in the Debating Ageing series at UCD examining the biological, medical, psychological, social and cultural factors that can facilitate positive experiences of old age.


Plotting the Future
Project Website: (opens in a new window)Future.ucd.ie
(opens in a new window)Podcast Series

Lecture Series I

Plotting the Future: Scenes and Scenarios of Speculation

Led by the UCD Humanities Institute, the UCD Institute for Discovery and the UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy, ‘Plotting the Future’ is a public lecture series and forum for debate that explores the urgent question of what it means to be human in the age of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics.

AI, robotics, autonomous vehicles, drones, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, and biotechnology are revolutionising society. These new technologies are already blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological worlds, raising ethical, social and legal concerns. While some commentators celebrate the opportunities of the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution, others foreground the potentially uncontrollable ramifications of what is arguably an unprecedented transformation of the human world.

Our experts and guest lecturers will discuss the following questions:

  • What are the socio-political, economic and cultural challenges and opportunities of the second machine age?
  • How will it transform the world of work?
  • To what extent will our self-perception as human beings change?
  • How can we safeguard the very notion of self-governance, given the increasing dependence on AI and robotics?
  • Can robotics law protect us from uncontrolled advances in these domains?

Join us as we discuss what the future may look like in thirty years. Listen back to podcasts from previous events below.

30 May 2017

(opens in a new window)Professor Judy Wajcman (Anthony Giddens Professor of Sociology, London School of Economics): Automation, Robotics and the Temporality of Everyday Life

Judy Wajcman is the Anthony Giddens Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics, and a Visiting Professor at the Oxford Internet Institute. She has published widely on the gender relations of technology. Her recent books include Pressed for Time: The Acceleration of Life in Digital Capitalism (2015) and The Sociology of Speed: Digital, Organization, and Social Temporalities (2017).

20 June 2017

(opens in a new window)Dr Mary Aiken (Adjunct Associate Professor at UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy): The Cyber Effect: Children and Young People in an Age of Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and the Internet

Mary Aiken is an Adjunct Associate Professor at University College Dublin, Geary Institute for Public Policy, and Academic Advisor (Psychology) to the European Cyber Crime Centre (EC3) at Europol. She is a lecturer in Criminology and Research Fellow at the School of Law, Middlesex University, a Fellow of the Society for Chartered IT Professionals, a Sensemaking Fellow at the IBM Network Science Research Centre, and has served as a Distinguished Professor of the Practice of Cyber Analytics at AIRS. She is a member of the Hague Justice Portal advisory board and Director of the Cyberpsychology Research Network.

19 September 2017

(opens in a new window)Professor Margaret Boden OBE FBA (Research Professor of Cognitive Science, University of Sussex): AI and the Future

Margaret A. Boden OBE ScD FBA is Research Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of Sussex, where she helped develop the world's first academic programme in cognitive science. She holds degrees in medical sciences, philosophy, and psychology, and integrates these disciplines with AI in her research. She is a Fellow of the British Academy, and of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (and its British and European equivalents) and has recently been appointed Scientific Advisor to the APPG (All-Party Parliamentary Group) on AI.  She was also a member of the Royal Society’s Policy Committee on “Machine Learning” which published its report (opens in a new window)Machine Learning: the power and promise of computers that learn by example in April 2017.

Her books include The Creative Mind: Myths and Mechanisms (1990/2004), Mind as Machine: A History of Cognitive Science (2006), and AI, Its Nature and Future (2016).

12 October 2017

(opens in a new window)Professor Susanne Beck (Professor of Criminal Law and Philosophy of Law, Leibniz University Hanover): Robots and the Law - the Problem of Liability Diffusion

Susanne Beck is professor of Criminal Law and Law Philosophy at the Leibniz University Hanover since 2013. She has studied and worked in Wuerzburg, London, Sydney and Zhuhai (China), has received her PhD in Wuerzburg on the topic "Criminal Liability for Stem Cell Research in Germany" and also worked on topics such as collectives and criminal law, the rule of law from a postmodern perspective or sanctioning of elderly people. Since 2008 she has been constantly analysing the rapid development in robotics and AI and the consequences for the legal system.

9 November 2017

(opens in a new window)Professor Kathleen Richardson (Professor of Ethics and Culture of Robots and AI, De Montfort University, Leicester): A Human Attachment Crisis: Can the Robots Save Us?

Kathleen Richardson is the Director of the Campaign Against Sex Robots and Senior Research Fellow in Ethics of Robotics and part of the Europe-wide DREAM project (Development of Robot-Enhance Therapy for Children with AutisM). She completed her PhD at the Department of Anthropology, University of Cambridge. Her fieldwork was an investigation of the making of robots in labs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After her PhD Kathleen was a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow (BAPDF), a position she held at the University College London. Kathleen's postdoctoral work was an investigation into the therapeutic uses of robots for children with autism spectrum conditions. In 2013, she was part of the Digital Bridges Project, an innovative AHRC funded technology and arts collaboration between Watford Palace Theatre and the University of Cambridge.

Kathleen is author of An Anthropology of Robots and AI: Annihilation Anxiety and Machines. She is now working on her second manuscript The Robot Intermediary? An Anthropology of Attachment and Robots for Children with Autism.

4 December 2017

(opens in a new window)Professor Philippe van Parijs (Visiting Professor and Senior Research Fellow, Nuffield College University of Oxford): Basic Income and The Future of Work

Philippe van Parijs is a guest professor at the Universities of Louvain and Leuven, a Robert Schuman Fellow at the European University Institute and an associate member of Nuffield College, Oxford. He was the founding director of Louvain’s Hoover Chair of Economic and Social Ethics from 1991 to 2016, and a regular visiting professor at Harvard University from 2004 to 2010 and at the University of Oxford from 2011 to 2015. He is a member of Belgium’s Royal Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the British Academy. He is one of the founders of the Basic Income Earth Network and chairs its International Board. His books include Real Freedom for All. What (if anything) can justify capitalism ? (Oxford U.P. 1995), What’s Wrong with a Free Lunch ? (Beacon Press, 2001),  Linguistic Justice for Europe and for the World (Oxford U.P. 2011), and Basic Income. A radical proposal for a free society and a sane economy (Harvard U.P. 2017, with Y. Vanderborght).

20 February 2018

(opens in a new window)Brett Scott (Journalist, campaigner and former derivatives broker): The War on Cash

Brett Scott is a journalist, campaigner and former derivatives broker. He is the author of The Heretic’s Guide to Global Finance: Hacking the Future of Money (Pluto Press: 2013), which helps non-expert readers to explore the financial system, and to think about how it could be designed differently. He has worked with a variety of groups on issues related to the financial sector. This includes working on tax justice with Action Aid UK, considering the impact of offshore financial centres, and working on food markets with the World Development Movement, considering the impact of financial players in commodity derivatives markets. He was on the original team of the UK ethical banking reform campaign MoveYourMoney, which advocates for greater banking diversity, transparency and responsible investment. He's collaborating with groups like Berlin-based Open Oil on building open data models for oil sector transparency, whilst working with student campaigners on the ethical policies of university investment. He also writes on financial campaigns, alternative finance and open source hacker culture for publications like The Guardian, New Scientist, Wired Magazine, Aeon and CNN.com, and provides commentary on financial reform and cryptocurrencies on media channels such as BBC and Arte. He is a Fellow of the ICAEW/WWF Finance Innovation Lab, which brings together practitioners interested in sustainable finance, monetary reform, and peer-to-peer finance. He is very interested in popular education around financial markets, and frequently runs workshops at festivals and other events, as well as helping to facilitate a course on power and design at the Camberwell College of Arts London.  To read more, see his blog (opens in a new window)www.suitpossum.blogspot.com, and visit his Twitter profile @suitpossum

17 May 2018

(opens in a new window)Professor Maja Pantic (Chair iBUG Group, Imperial College London, Computing Dept., UK 

Director, Samsung Artificial Intelligence Research Centre, Cambridge, UK): Artificial Intelligence: What if machines could sense how I feel

Maja Pantic obtained her PhD degree in computer science in 2001 from Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands. Until 2005, she was an Assistant/ Associate Professor at Delft University of Technology. In 2006, she joined the Imperial College London, Department of Computing, UK, where she is Professor of Affective & Behavioural Computing and the Head of the iBUG group, working on machine analysis of human non-verbal behaviour. From May 2018, she is the Director of the Samsung Artificial Intelligence Research Centre in Cambridge, UK.

Prof. Pantic is one of the world's leading experts in the research on machine understanding of human behaviour including vision-based detection, tracking, and analysis of human behavioural cues like facial expressions and body gestures, and multimodal analysis of human behaviours like laughter, social signals, and affective states. In 2011, Prof. Pantic received BCS Roger Needham Award, awarded annually to a UK based researcher for a distinguished research contribution in computer science within ten years of their PhD. She is an IEEE Fellow and an IAPR Fellow.

The talk will be moderated by Adrian Weckler, group technology editor, Irish and Sunday Independent.

Adrian Weckler is Ireland’s most recognised media commentator on how technology is changing our lives, both at work and beyond. As Technology Editor of both The Irish Independent and The Sunday Independent, he has risen to become the country’s most senior journalist in the sector, regularly appearing on national and international television and radio shows to interpret new trends.

He is also the host of Ireland’s most listened-to technology podcast, The Big Tech Show. Adrian is currently the holder of the Smurfit Business Journalism award, Ireland’s most prestigious business media accolade. Twitter: @adrianweckler

20 September 2018

(opens in a new window)Mark O'Connell (Journalist and author): To be a Machine

Mark O'Connell is a writer based in Dublin. His book, To Be a Machine: Encounters With a Post-Human Future, was published by Granta (UK & Commonwealth) and Doubleday (US & Canada) in 2017. 

He is Slate’s books columnist, a staff writer at The Millions, and a regular contributor to The New Yorker’s “Page-Turner” blog; his work has been published in The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, The Observer, and The Independent. He is also the author of the Kindle Single Epic Fail: Bad Art, Viral Fame, and the History of the Worst Thing Ever (Byliner/The Millions).

He has a PhD in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin, and in 2013 his academic monograph on the work of the novelist John Banville, John Banville’s Narcissistic Fictions, was published by Palgrave Macmillan. He was an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow from 2011 to 2012 at Trinity College, where he taught contemporary literature.

Plotting the Future

Project Website: (opens in a new window)Future.ucd.ie
(opens in a new window)Podcast Series

Lecture Series II

Towards Sustainability: Environment - Society - Economy

This public lecture series is a joint initiative of four research institutes at University College Dublin – the Earth Institute, the Geary Institute for Public Policy, the Humanities Institute, and the Institute for Discovery. The series will consist of public lectures, thematic workshops, interviews and other outreach activities.

Building on the success of the initial series Plotting the Future: Scenes and Scenarios of Speculation which addressed the social, cultural and economic impact of Artificial Intelligence and robotics, Plotting the Future: Towards Sustainability explores the question of whether and how life in the Anthropocene can be made sustainable. The question of sustainability cannot be solved by any one discipline on its own – besides scientific, economic and political interventions, it also requires ethical, cultural and historically informed perspectives. We are therefore keen to invite leading international experts spanning the sciences, social sciences and humanities to explore how we are driving environmental change and discuss how we can or should respond, in terms of society, economy, policy, technology, culture and lifestyle. 

7 November 2019

(opens in a new window)Dr Rick Crownshaw (Goldsmiths, University of London): Climate Change, Literature, and the Future of Memory

Rick Crownshaw is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English and Comparative Literature, Goldsmiths, University of London, where he teaches American literature. Rick’s research has mainly focused on American literature and culture but often within transnational and even planetary contexts.

His research career began with an interest in US representations of the Holocaust, which informed his first book The Afterlife of Holocaust Memory in Contemporary Literature and Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010). This monograph explored and scrutinised notions of secondary witnessing and postmemory (the way cultures remember experiences that have not been witnessed first-hand) in German fiction and memorials, American museum practice, and recent European and American trauma theory. This in turn led to a more general interest in Memory and Trauma Studies – resulting in the co-edited books Transcultural Memory (Routledge 2014) and The Future of Memory (Berghahn 2010, 2013) – and a continuation of his interests in post-1945 and contemporary US fiction upon which he has published in a number of scholarly journals.

More recently Rick has turned his attention to the Environmental Humanities and literature of the Anthropocene. He has co-edited, with Stef Craps, a special issue of the journal Studies in the Novel (2018) on climate change fiction, and is currently finishing a monograph, Remembering the Anthropocene in Contemporary American Fiction. This latest monograph focuses on, among other things, the potential of cultural memory and trauma studies in analysing literary narratives of climate change, extinction, pollution and toxicity, the resourcing of war, American petrocultures, and post-oil worlds.

20 February 2020

(opens in a new window)Professor Ian Gough (LSE): Climate change, Inequality and Sustainable Wellbeing

Ian Gough (Visiting Professor London School of Economics; Associate, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and Emeritus Professor of Social Policy, University of Bath)

Ian is Professorial Research Fellow at the Centre for the Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE). He is also Emeritus Professor of Social Policy at the University of Bath. Ian’s current research project, supported by an ESRC grant, is on the intersection of climate change mitigation policy and social policy.

Ian studied economics at Cambridge in the early 1960s, and, since then, has worked within the field of social policy, applying economics, political economy, political science and political philosophy to some of the central concerns of the welfare state. He was professor of political economy and social policy at Manchester University before leaving for the chair of social policy at the University of Bath in 1995. On retirement in 2009 he moved to London to concentrate on his current research at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

14 May 2020

(opens in a new window)Professor Danny Dorling (Oxford): Slowdown: The End of the Great Acceleration

As part of the University College Dublin Plotting the Future: Towards Sustainability public lecture series, on 14 May 2020 were joined by Professor Danny Dorling from the University of Oxford to talk about his new book Slowdown: The End of the Great Acceleration – and Why It’s Good for the Planet, the Economy & Our Lives.

The book is an evidence rich picture of human history and global social change, arguing that growth of all kinds around the world is decelerating and we are heading toward a slower, more stable future. As we exit the period of ‘Great Acceleration’, this slowing down will lead to better outcomes for the planet, the economy and our lives. 

Professor Dorling was joined for a panel discussion by Professor Jacky Croke (Chair – School of Geography) | Dr Bradley Garrett (School of Geography) | Dr Marie Moran (School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice) | Dr Larry O’Connell (National Economic and Social Council).

17 December 2020

(opens in a new window)Prof. Richard Thompson (Plymouth University): Perspectives on Plastic Pollution

20 October 2021

(opens in a new window)Prof. Eva Horn (University of Vienna): Being in the Air.  An aesthetic and intellectual history of climate

Eva Horn is Professor of Modern Literature at the University of Vienna. Her research focuses on literature and art in the age of the Anthropocene; climate literature; modelling the future in literature and science; narratives of catastrophe; political secrets, conspiracy, treason. She is author of The Future as Catastrophe. Imagining Disaster in the Modern Age, New York: Columbia University Press 2018, with Hannes Bergthaller: The Anthropocene. Key Issues for the Humanities, New York/London: Routledge 2019; The Secret War. Treason, Espionage, and Modern Fiction, Evanston: Northwestern University Press 2013.

The Talk:

Current conceptualizations of climate and climate change are dominated by the abstract idea of climate as “the average weather.” This scientific understanding, I will argue, must be complemented by a cultural concept of climate which has a long tradition from Antiquity to the Enlightenment. In order to understand what it means to “be in the air” culturally, politically, and medically, we need a cultural understanding of climate as an environment. My talk will give a few historical and literary examples of what it might mean to understand the air from the inside, as an element of individual, social, and cultural life.

Truth to be Told: Understanding Truth in the Age of Post-Truth Politics

‌Truth to be Told is a UCD Humanities Institute public lecture series in response to the emergence of what is called a ‘post-factual’ world in which trustworthy models of discursive truth have been derided as old-fashioned, elitist and authoritarian.

A founding ideal for the world wide web was to allow everyone unprecedented access to share information, knowledge and truth unconstrained by established hierarchies and institutions. What followed was a social media revolution that enabled people to exchange information at little cost, producing new modes of online citizenship and participation. The Arab Spring seemed to then provide evidence that social media could indeed empower revolutionary grassroots movements.

But more recent political events cast doubt that social media networks simply enhance citizenship: “digital wildfires” of fake news are increasing and seem to be unstoppable. Such disinformation is hard to discredit because counter-measures are not spectacular, fact-checking takes expertise and resources, and public debate requires more than fleeting attention. To be sure, social media platforms can enhance public debate but they may lock people into echo chambers where prejudices solidify into belief systems that are not tested against truth. And so it is not surprising that authoritarian states have begun to exploit social media by deploying trolls and unleashing bots to spread fabricated information, outright lies or fragmented facts without context.

Responding to a crisis of truth and democracy, this lecture series aims to debate the socio-political, ethical, discursive and cultural implications of truth as a common good. Public lectures by internationally renowned speakers will examine some of the following topics: truth and the law, truth in stories, truth and memory, truth in history, truth within institutions, truth and the media, truth in art.

(opens in a new window)Listen to podcasts from the Series here

27 May 2019: Truth and Religion 

‌Professor Jan Assmann‌ (Honorary Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of Constance (since 2003))

(opens in a new window)Podcast

Jan Assmann, Dr. phil. (born 1938) taught as full professor of Egyptology at Heidelberg University from 1972 to 2003 and is since 2005 Honorary Professor of Cultural and Religious Theory at Constance. He has published on ancient Egyptian religion, literature and history, on cultural theory (“cultural memory”), history of religion (“monotheism and cosmotheism”), the reception of Egypt in European tradition, literary theory and historical anthropology. Assmann taught as visiting professor in Paris, Oxford, Jerusalem and in various universities in the USA (Rice, Yale, Chicago). He received honorary degrees from Münster, Yale and Jerusalem (Hebrew University) and is a member of various German and foreign Academies. Since 1968 he is married to Aleida Assmann, Professor em. of English and Comparative Literature at Constance University, and has five children.

Books in English include The Invention of Religion. Covenant and Faith in the Book of Exodus (trans. Robert Savage), Princeton 2018; From Akhenaten to Moses, AUC Press Cairo 2014; The Price of Monotheism, trans. W. Savage, Stanford UP 2009; Of God and Gods, Wisconsin UP Madison 2008); The Mind of Egypt. History and Meaning in the Time of the Pharaohs, (trans. Andrew Jenkins) Harvard UP, Cambridge Mass. 2003;  Moses the Egyptian: The memory of Egypt in Western Monotheism, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1997.

13 September 2018: Truth and Science

(opens in a new window)Professor Philip Kitcher (‌John Dewey Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University)

(opens in a new window)Podcast

‌Professor Kitcher went to Christ’s College Cambridge to study mathematics. After leaving Cambridge, he went to Princeton University, where he obtained a Ph.D. in philosophy/history and philosophy of science. Since then, he has taught at Vassar College, the University of Vermont, the University of Minnesota, the University of California at San Diego, and, most recently at Columbia. His principal interests have been in the philosophy of science. After working on the philosophy of mathematics early in his career, he began to write on issues in the philosophy of biology and in general philosophy of science. He is currently interested in the ethical and political constraints on scientific research, the evolution of altruism and morality, and the apparent conflict between science and religion. His principal current research projects focus on pragmatism, and on issues in philosophy in/and/of literature.  

Book publications include: Science, Truth, and Democracy, Oxford University Press, 2001; paperback 2003; in a Democratic Society, Prometheus Books, 2011; Philosophy of Science: A New Introduction (co-authored with Gillian Barker); Oxford University Press, 2013; Life After Faith: The Case for Secular Humanism, Yale University Press, 2014.

30 May 2018: Truth and History 

(opens in a new window)Professor Peter Fritzsche (W. D. & Sara E. Trowbridge Professor of History, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

(opens in a new window)Podcast

Peter Fritzsche is the W. D. & Sara E. Trowbridge Professor of History at the University of Illinois where he has taught since 1987.  His books include Reading Berlin 1900 (1996); Stranded in the Present: Modern Time and the Melancholy of History (2004); Nietzsche and the Death of God (2007), Life and Death in the Third Reich (2008) and An Iron Wind: Europe under Hitler (2016) which was recently short listed for Phi Beta Kappa's 2017 Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize for contributions to the intellectual and cultural condition of humanity.

24 April 2018: Truth and Politics 

(opens in a new window)‌Professor Ivana Bacik (Reid Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology and Penology at Trinity College Dublin)

(opens in a new window)Podcast

Senator Ivana Bacik, LLB, LLM (Lond), BL, FTCD, is Reid Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology and Penology at Trinity College Dublin, a Senior Lecturer and Fellow of Trinity College Dublin, and a barrister. She is a Labour Party Senator for Dublin University (elected 2007, and re-elected 2011 and again in 2016), and was Deputy Leader of Seanad Eireann 2011-16. Ivana has written and published extensively on criminal law, criminology, human rights, constitutional law and related matters, and has a long track record of campaigning on civil liberties, penal reform and feminist issues. She was Editor of the Irish Criminal Law Journal from 1997-2003 and co-authored a major report on gender discrimination in the legal professions in Ireland (Gender InJustice, 2003). Her other publications include Kicking and Screaming: Dragging Ireland into the Twenty-First Century (O’Brien Press, 2004); and she is co-editor (with Mary Rogan) of Legal Cases that Changed Ireland (Clarus Press, 2016).

6 February 2018: Truth and Memory

(opens in a new window)‌‌Professor Aleida Assmann (‌Emerita Professor of  English and Comparative Literature, University of Konstanz)

(opens in a new window)Podcast

In 2014 The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences awarded the Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for History to Aleida Assmann. In 2017 Aleida and Jan Assmann won the  Karl-Jaspers Prize 2017  by the Universität Heidelberg, the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the city of Heidelberg. In November 2017 Aleida and Jan Assmann will receive the Balzan Prize (International Balzan Prize Foundation, Switzerland) “for their shared, inter- and transdisciplinary elaboration of the concept of “cultural memory” and its defining clarifications as a paradigm in the field of cultural studies, as well as in public debates; for a decades-long exchange about very different historical realities and models, which in a truly extraordinary way proved to be complementary; for the work carried out independently, of far-reaching impact, which presents collective memory as a requirement for the formation of the identity of religious and political communities.”

Aleida Assmann has published hundreds of essays, books and collections of articles on English literature, cultural memory and ‘remembrance’. She is a member of the Academies of Science in Brandenburg, Göttingen and Austria, and received an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Theology at the University of Oslo in 2008. In 2009, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Max Planck Society presented Assmann with a Max Planck Research Award (€ 750,000). In 2011, she received the Ernst Robert Curtius Prize for essays from the University of Bonn Society.

7 December 2017: Truth in Stories

(opens in a new window)Dame Marina Warner DBE, FRSL, FBA (‌‌Professor of English and Creative Writing, Birkbeck College, University of London and Professorial Research Fellow, SOAS, 2014-2017)

(opens in a new window)Podcast

(opens in a new window)Video

Marina Warner’s critical and historical books and essays explore different figures in myth and fairy tale, such as the Virgin Mary and Joan of Arc; more recently she has concentrated on fairy tales, including the Arabian Nights. She also writes novels and short stories, often drawing on mythic or other imaginary predecessors to translate them into contemporary significance – to re-vision them. Stories come from the past but speak to the present, and she has found that she needs to write stories as well as deconstruct them and place them in historical contexts, because she herself loves reading works of imagination, and would like to join the conversation with admired predecessors, who range from Apuleius to Virginia Woolf, Italo Calvino, and Angela Carter. 

Her books include Fairy Tale: A Very Short Introduction, (January 2018), Forms of Enchantment: Writings on Art and Artists (forthcoming 2018), Planting Signs: The Art of Jumana Abboud (Autumn 2017), Phantasmagoria: Spirit Visions, Metaphors, and Media (2006), and Stranger Magic: Charmed States and The Arabian Nights (2011). The Lost Father (l988), was short listed for the Booker prize, and in 2000, The Leto Bundle (2000) was long-listed. The Shadow Image(ed. Rut Blees), with essay and photographs from a trip to China in 1975 by Marina Warner, is due to be published in 2017.

27 September 2017: Truth and the Law

(opens in a new window)The Hon Mr Justice Peter Charleton (‌Judge of the Supreme Court of Ireland)

(opens in a new window)Podcast 

Peter Charleton commenced practice at the Bar in 1979 and took silk in 1995. From 2002 to his appointment to the High Court in 2006 he was counsel to the Morris Tribunal; a statutory enquiry which looked into misconduct in the Garda Síochána. In the High Court he was assigned principally to the commercial list. He was appointed to the Supreme Court in July 2014. A Dubliner, he is married with children. He has published papers in journals, including the Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law, the International Journal of Law and the Family, the Yearbook of the International Commission of Jurists, Intellectual Property Law and Policy, the Journal of Criminal Law, the Bar Review, the Journal of the Judicial Studies Institute of Ireland, the Irish Law Times, the Gazette of the Incorporated Law Society of Ireland and the Irish Criminal Law Journal.

His books include Irish Criminal Law (1999, Butterworths, with McDermott and Bolger), and an analysis of human destructiveness, Lies in a Mirror: An Essay on Evil and Deceit (Blackhall Publishing, 2006). He lectured from 1986 to 1988 in Trinity College Dublin, from which he graduated in 1980. He is the Irish representative on the Colloque Franco Brittanique Irlandais. He was a founder member of the RTÉ Philharmonic Choir and was chairman of the National Archives Advisory Council 2011-2016.

The first objective of the HI strategic plan 2017–2020 was to specifically stimulate interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary research projects in response to key societal challenges.

In 2016 four research projects were selected through a competitive round of funding and received the following supports: €10,000 funding; website presence on the HI website; access to the HI SoundCloud; administrative and organisational support for all project related activities; research space for PhDs and postdoctoral fellows; research space for visiting fellows and guests. All four research projects resulted in high-level publications, international networks, public engagement, national and international recognition of the PIs and successful grant applications.


  • Modern Architecture and Culture in the Mid-Twentieth Century: From Exporting to Importing the New
    PIs: Professor Kathleen James-Chakraborty (UCD School of Art History and Cultural Policy)
    Dr Douglas Smith (UCD School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics)

    Recent publication list
    • Events:
      • 8 February 2018 | Valerie Mulvin (McCullough Mulvin Architects): ‘Translation East’
      • 18 April 2018 | Professor Feng Jiang (South China Technical University): ‘Topography as Memory: Stories of Two Recent Cases in China — Litchi Bay Canal Project, Guangzhou, and Huqiu Campus, Sichuan Fine Art Institute, Chongqing’
      • 8 October 2018 | Professor Tom Avermaete (ETH, Zurich): ‘Modernism and its Regimes of Circulation’
      • 29 January 2019 | Dr. Pamela O. Long (MacArthur Fellow): ‘Bricolagic Practitioners in the Fluid Culture of Skilled Work in Late Sixteenth-Century Rome’
      • 29 January 2019 | Professor Nandini Das (University of Liverpool): ‘Remembering Carthage: Memory, Erasure and Empire’
      • 15 November 2019 | Professor Charles Forsdick (University of Liverpool): ‘On the Ruins of Empire: Reading the Vestiges of the French Colonial Past’
      • 11 December 2020 | Variable Geometries Research Networking Workshop I
      • 23 April 2021 | Variable Geometries Research Networking Workshop II

  • Media, Encounter, Witness: Troubling Pasts
    PIs: Associate Professor Emilie Pine (UCD School of English, Drama and Film)
    Associate Professor Emily Mark-Fitzgerald (UCD School of Art History and Cultural Policy)

  • Architecture and Narrative: The Built Environment in Modern Culture
    PIs: Dr Katherine Fama (UCD School of English, Drama and Film)
    Professor Anne Fogarty (UCD School of English, Drama and Film)

A first round of seed funding in 2020 resulted in eight successful applications. Due to Covid-19 restrictions most funded projects had to delay their research activities for at least one year. Completion deadlines were extended accordingly.

  • Diaspora and Identity & Culture and Knowledge Transfer in Time and Place (Ireland in the World Research Strand)
    PIs: Prof. Regina U Chollatain, Dr Aoife Whelan, Dr Kelly Fitzgerald (School of Irish, Celtic Studies and Folklore)
    Dr Elva Johnston (School of History)
    Dr Pascale Baker (School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics)
    Dr Roisin Kennedy (School of Art History and Cultural Policy)
    Dr Caoimhin Mac Giolla Laiith (School of Irish, Celtic Studies and Folklore)
    Dr Lucy Collins (School of English, Drama and Film)
    Prof. Liam Kennedy (Clinton Institute for American Studies)

UCD Humanities Institute

University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
T: +353 1 716 4690 | E: humanities@ucd.ie |