University of Cambridge

The Humanitas Visiting Professorship in Media is one of the highlights in its field at the University of Cambridge. Ambitious in its scope, the initiative holds Visiting Professorships that bring individuals of outstanding practical and academic expertise to give students, scholars, and members of the general public unique insight into the complex and fascinating role the media plays in global society

The Visiting Professorship in Media has been made possible by the generous support of the Blavatnik Family Foundation and is hosted by St John’s College, Cambridge.

Emily Bell 2015-2016

Emily Bell is director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. She previously worked for the Observer and then the Guardian for 20 years.

Emily Bell delivered a lecture on March 2nd on the impact of social media and the internet on journalism and news publishing. This was followed by an in conversation with Mary Beard on March 3rd, where they discussed the role of the internet and social media in public discourse.

Alastair Campbell 2013-2014

Alastair Campbell is the former Director of Strategy and Communication for British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Alastair Campbell’s Humanitas Visiting Professorship examined the complex relationships between the media and politics.

In his first lecture, Why Journalism, and why it matters in a world of flux, Campbell argued for the increased professionalism of journalists. He made the point that to endure, the press must strive to be something that adds value to society, and be more than just another form of commerce. Campbell was adamant that to endure, the press must not just cover, but challenge.

Addressing media ownership and regulations in his second lecture, entitled Journalism and democracy: grounds for optimism in the face of the future?, Campbell asserted that the threat to journalism today comes not from politicians, but from within the press itself.

Eric Schmidt 2012-2013

Eric Schmidt is the Executive Chairman of Google Inc.

Schmidt’s first lecture, The Next 5 Billion: Life in Our New Connected Age, began by introducing the fact that only 2 of the planet’s 7 billion people are currently ‘connected’. Schmidt posited that the next few years will see the remaining 5 billion join us in the connected world and that at every level of society, connectivity will continue to become more affordable and will be beneficial to overall quality of life, especially in the developing world.

The second lecture, The Future of Identity, Citizenship, and Reporting, examined how the fundamental idea of ‘identity’ is undergoing a radical transformation in the virtual world. The more connected a community is, the more the citizenry can use the virtual world to hold governments accountable for crimes and corruption. People, Schmidt asserted, will be able to protect one another by connecting with each other.

In his final lecture, The Future of Conflict, Combat, and Intervention, Schmidt looked at how connectivity and the virtual world will also affect military matters, creating a rise in remote warfare. Schmidt asserted that the advances in remote warfare would lead to an increase of small military skirmishes but a decrease of actual war.

Manuel Castells 2011-2012

Manuel Castells is University Professor and Wallis Annenberg Chair in Communication Technology and Society at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Manuel Castells’ series focused on the theme of Communication Power in the Network Society. Castells outlined the main elements of his theory of the ‘network society’ and then used this theory to analyse the nature and significance of some of the new social movements that emerged in 2011; the Arab uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, the ‘indignados’ in Spain and the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement in the US.

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