International spotlight on freedom

“We tend to take both our freedom and the Constitution for granted here in Norway. We would all benefit from a reminder that these values did not come of themselves. There is nothing automatic in the establishment and safeguarding of democratic institutions; they emerge as the result of a Ola Mestad Ola Mestad struggle. Keeping this in mind will help us to understand how difficult it is for the countries trying so hard to design their own constitutions today,” says law professor Ola Mestad. Dr Mestad is chair of the research committee for the bicentennial celebration of the Constitution.

During the period leading up to 2014 and the bicentennial celebration of the Norwegian Constitution, the Research Council of Norway has launched a separate initiative for research and knowledge on the significance of the Constitution for Norway’s development as a democratic state. The objective of the research initiative is to shed light on important questions relating to the Constitution and democratic governance, historically, today and in the future.

The 1814 lectures series is one of the activities in the lead-up to the bicentennial.

International discussion

Quentin Skinner Photo: Res Publica Quentin Skinner (Photo: Res Publica) The 1814 lecture series will feature reflections on the concept of freedom from key researchers and other important social figures with backgrounds in history, political philosophy, and law. Professor Quentin Skinner, an expert in the history of political thought, will come from the UK to start off the lecture series in Bergen on 30 May. He will be discussing the idea that the concept of freedom must always first be understood in its own historical context.

Follow Professor Skinner's lecture on web TV on 30 May from 14.15 CET.

Four additional lectures will be held in Oslo, Trondheim and Tromsø, with the series scheduled to conclude in the spring of 2014.

“We have invited five prominent speakers from Europe, Asia, North America and Africa to give us new perspectives on our own constitution. They are either researchers or individuals who have played a key role in the effort to develop a constitution. Together they will cover the period from the 1600’s up to the present and the development of ideas in both a Western and a global context. The intention behind the 1814 lecture series is to move the discussion of the Constitution out of a national setting and to encourage reflection over its very foundation,” says Professor Mestad.
 

The 1814 lecture series

The 1814 lecture series is being organised by the Research Council of Norway in collaboration with the Freedom of Expression Foundation in Oslo and the University of Bergen, University of Oslo, University of Tromsø, and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. The first three lecturers are:

There will be a lecture in Tromsø in autumn 2013 and the final lecture will be given in Oslo in the spring of 2014.

 

Photo: Stortingsarkivet (Photo: Stortingsarkivet)

 

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