Foundation Lecture

The Foundation Lecture is the College's major annual public lecture.

The first lecture in the series, 'Antibiotics and Therapy in Perspective', was given in 1969 by Nobel Laureate and alumnus Sir Ernst Chain (one of the discoverers of antibiotics) as a Centenary Lecture, to celebrate the admission of the first non-collegiate students in 1869. 

2021 | Professor Linda Colley 

The Drawbacks of Political Stability: The British Case.

This lecture took place on Thursday 11 November. Professor Colley, the Shelby M.C. Davis 1958 Professor of History at Princeton University, is an expert on British, imperial and global history since 1700.

2020 | Professor Diane Coyle

How do we know whether there’s progress?

(Event postponed to March 2021, due to the November 2020 COVID-19 lockdown.)

2019 | Professor Bhaskar Vira

From the Himalayas to the Fens: Towards a Political Economy of Environment and Development

2018 | Professor Paul Muldoon 

A Feast and a Famine: James Joyce’s “The Dead”

2017 | Professor Catherine Barnard

Me, (E)U and Brexit

2016 | Professor David Cardwell 

Bulk Superconductors: Revolution or Red Herring?

2015 | Professor Maurice Bloch

The Contributions of British Social Anthropology to the Human Sciences

2014 | Professor Shankar Balasubramanian

Decoding Human Genomes on a Population Scale

2013 | Ken Olisa OBE

Double Standards: Perspectives on Life in Public Companies and Public Office

2012 | Helena Morrissey CBE

Women on Boards: The Power of an Idea whose Time has Come

2011 | Professor John Mullan

The Business of Literary Fiction

2010 | Professor Angus Deaton

The Wellbeing of the World: Global Patterns of Health, Wealth and Happiness

2009 | Professor Andrew Motion

The Growth of a Poet’s Mind

2007 | Professor Colin Blakemore

Whose Science is it Anyway?

2006 | Professor Chris Rapley

Antarctica – Closer Than You Think

2005 | Lord Butler of Brockwell

Cabinet Government

2004 | Professor Martin Millett

The Archaeology of Social Integration in the Roman World

2003 | Sir Peter Bazalgette

Whatever You Need, Whatever You Want: Television’s Shift from Paternalism to Populism

2002 | Dr David Starkey CBE

The Modern Monarchy: Rituals of Privacy and Their Subversion

2001 | Professor Baroness Susan Greenfield

The Brain of the Future

2000 | Professor Norman Pounds

The Diocletian Line and the Balkans Conflict

1999 | Professor Lord Winston

GM Tots

1998 | Professor Robert Lethbridge

Paris, Painting and Pretexts

1997 | Mrs Steve Shirley

The Journey to Empowerment

1996 | Dr Robin Porter Goff

Newton to Giotto and other Dimensions of Engineering

1995 | Sir Louis Blom-Cooper

A Free and Wayward Press: A Question of Regulation

1994 | Professor F Garcia-Moliner

Science as a Question of General Interest

1993 | Lord St John of Fawsley

The Select Committees – Why, How and What Next?

1992 | Professor Tony Cross

St Petersburg and the British in the 18th Century

1991 | Professor Alan Cuthbert

The Natural (and Unnatural) History of Disease

1990 | Dr Nigel Kenney

England’s Green and Pleasant Land – Now and Forever?

1989 | Professor Richard Smith Britain’s

Ageing Population: A Historian’s View

1988 | Dr Harry Hudson

Living with Fungi – Choice or Obligation

1987 | Dr David Pearl

He Who Openeth the Door: British Immigration Law and Policy and the South Asian Family

1986 | Dr Clifford Roberton

Viability in Pre-Term Infants – Is there a Limit?

1985 | Professor Tony Bottoms

The Short, Sharp Shock: History, Research and Ideology

1984 | Professor Brian Johnson

The Shape of Things to Come

1983 | Dr Jack Dominian

The Foundation of the Personality from Anger to Love

1982 | Dr César Milstein

Monoclonal Antibodies: a Windfall of Basic Research 

1981 | Professor Sir James Holt

Robin Hood

1980 | Mr Humphrey Burton

Television in the 80s: the Decline and Fall of the BBC

1979 | Professor John Coles

Experimental Archaeology

1975 | Revd Dr Basil Hall

Boz v Stiggins: Dickens and Religion

1974 | Sir Eric Thompson

The Civilisation of the Maya

1973 | Dr Walter Grave

The Early History of Fitzwilliam College

1972 | Dr Edward Miller

The Medieval Countryside of Northern England

1971 | Mr Lee Kuan Yew

East and West: the Twain Have Met

1970 |  Professor Gordon Rupp

Thomas Müntzer and the Problems of a ‘Just Revolution'

1969 | Professor Ernst Chain

Antibiotics and Therapy in Perspective