Illiberal Democracy and Threats to Academic Freedom in Europe: Live Zoom Lecture with Michael Ignatieff, Rector and President of Central European University


As rector of Central European University Budapest, Michael Ignatieff led the fight against Victor Orban’s campaign to expel the university from Hungary and force it to re-establish itself in Vienna.  In this lecture, he reflects on the experience and on what it reveals about the nature of illiberal democracies and the threat they pose to free institutions in Europe, especially universities.


Photo: The main entrance of Central European University located in Budapest, Nador utca 11

Michael Ignatieff

Born in Canada, educated at the University of Toronto and Harvard, Michael Ignatieff is a university professor, writer and former politician.

His major publications are The Needs of Strangers (1984), Scar Tissue (1992), Isaiah Berlin (1998), The Rights Revolution (2000), Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry (2001), The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror (2004), Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics (2013), and The Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World (2017).

Between 2006 and 2011, he served as an MP in the Parliament of Canada and then as Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and Leader of the Official Opposition. He is a member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and holds thirteen honorary degrees.

Between 2012 and 2015 he served as Centennial Chair at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in New York.

Between 2014 and 2016 he was Edward R. Murrow Chair of Press, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.

He is currently the Rector and President of Central European University.