Press Office


‘Superstar’ philosopher to speak at University


Michael Sandel, the world’s ‘most relevant philosopher’ is to give a public lecture at Newcastle University.

The Harvard professor will deliver the Lord Patten Lecture on Social Renewal on Thursday, 9 May.

His talk What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of the Market, will examine how market values have come to define our lives in ways that aren’t good for democracy or the quality of public or private life.

Professor Sandel asks whether market values have spread into spheres of life where they don’t belong and if this is corrupting ourselves, our society and our environment. Among the issues he will discuss are whether we should we pay children to do their homework or if it is ethical to pay people to test risky new drugs or to donate their organs.

Michael Sandel’s lectures are hugely popular, with thousands flocking to hear him speak all over the world. The Guardian hails him as “currently the most effective communicator of ideas in English”. Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, sees his book as “a wake-up call to recognise our desperate need to rediscover some intelligible way of talking about humanity”.

Professor Mark Shucksmith, Director of the Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal said: “I am absolutely delighted Michael Sandel has agreed to give the second Lord Patten Lecture on Social Renewal.

“As well as being an inspirational speaker, his work addresses crucial moral questions at the heart of our society. After the banking crisis people started to question not only whether markets were efficient and fair, but to wonder if markets had become detached from our morality, and how to reconnect them.

"Michael Sandel asks us about the values we place on things as a society and points us toward ethical isues at the heart of social renewal. I can’t wait to hear him speak and it is a real honour to welcome him to Newcastle.”

The Justice course Professor Sandel teaches was the first Harvard course made freely available online  and on television and has attracted millions of viewers.

His work has been translated into 21 languages and been the subject of television series in the UK, the US, Japan, South Korea, Sweden, and the Middle East. He has delivered the Tanner Lectures at Oxford and been a visiting professor at the Sorbonne, Paris. In 2010, China Newsweek named him the "most influential foreign figure of the year".

In Japan he enjoys “superstar status” and in Seoul, Korea, 14,000 people filled an outdoor stadium to hear him speak.  Sandel was the 2009 BBC Reith Lecturer, and his recent book Justice was an international bestseller.  In April 2012 he presented a three-part BBC Radio 4 series ‘The Public Philosopher’.

The lecture will be followed by a book signing and will take place at 5.30pm in the King’s Hall of Newcastle University’s Armstrong Building. It is free to attend and seats are allocated on a first come first served basis.


published on: 7 May 2013