2018 SDN Annual Encounter with Nadia Urbinati

In 2018 SDN welcomed Professor Nadia Urbinati, Kyriakos Tsakopoulos Professor of Political Theory and Hellenic Studies at Columbia University, New York as distinguished guest to the University of Sydney for two concentrated days of the SDN Annual Encounter. She responded in depth and at length to a substantial discussion of her key works  which canvassed the concepts of the genealogy and principles of representative democracy,  the idea of socialism and democracy and its disfigurements.

Nadia Urbinati is a political theorist who specializes in modern and contemporary political thought and the democratic and anti-democratic traditions. She is the winner of the 2008-9 Lenfest/Columbia Distinguished Faculty Award. In 2008 the President of the Italian Republic awarded Professor Urbinati the Commendatore della Repubblica (Commander of the Italian Republic) “for her contribution to the study of democracy and the diffusion of Italian liberal and democratic thought abroad.” In 2004 her book Mill on Democracy received the David and Elaine Spitz Prize as the best book in liberal and democratic theory published in 2002. Professor Urbinati is the author of Representative Democracy: Principles and Genealogy, and of Mill on Democracy: From the Athenian Polis to Representative Government. She has edited Carlo Rosselli, Liberal Socialism and Piero Gobetti, On Liberal Revolution. She co-edited with Monique Canto-Sperber Le socialism libéral: Une anthologie; Europe-États-Unis; with Alex Zakaras, John Stuart Mill’s Political Thought: A Bicentennial Reassessment, and, with Stefano Recchia, A Cosmopolitanism of Nations: Giuseppe Mazzini’s Writings on Democracy, Nation Building, and International Relations. Among her books in Italian are: Le civili libertá: Positivismo e liberalismo nell’Italia unita, prefaced by Norberto Bobbio; Individualismo democratico; and Ai confini della democrazia: opportunità e rischi dell’universalismo democratico.

Professor Urbinati is also an editorial contributor of the Italian newspaper La Repubblica and publishes articles in the culture section of the Italian newspaper Il Sole24ore. She is currently completing a monograph on the ideology of the anti-political and the critics of democracy. Before arriving at Columbia, Professor Urbinati served as visiting professor at New York University and the University of Pennsylvania, and as a lecturer at Princeton University. She also taught at the University UNICAMP in Brazil and was a visiting professor at the Scuola Superiore de Studi Universitari e Perfezionamento Sant’Anna of Pisa (Italy). She has been a member of the School of Social Sciences of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University, and of the Department of Political Studies of the University of Turin (Italy). She was appointed as a Laurance S. Rockefeller Visiting Fellow for the academic year 2006-07 in the University Center for Human Values, Princeton University.

Read SDN interviews with Nadia Urbinati on the Relevance of Despotism and the Parasitical Nature of Populism





2016 SDN Annual Encounter with Yu Keping

Co-hosted with the China Studies Centre at the University of Sydney


Source: Uni Duisburg-Essen

The honoured guest of the 2016 SDN Encounter was Professor Yu Keping. He is the new Director of the Research Centre for Chinese Politics and Dean of the School of Government, Peking University. He was previously Deputy President of the Central Compilation and Translation Bureau. Yu Keping is widely known for his commentaries on Chinese society and politics, and for his influential writings in the fields of political philosophy, law, globalisation, civil society, culture and democratic governance. Among his many books are The Globalisation Paradox (1998); Democracy is a Good Thing (2010); China in the Next 30 Years (2011); Happiness and Dignity (2012); Governance and Rule of Law in China (2012); Globalisation and Changes in China’s Governance (2013); and On China’s Cultural Transformation (2015).

Yu Keping has written columns for such platforms as The New York Times, The Globalist and the Huffington Post. As a leading intellectual and advocate of democratic governance in China, he has earned honorary titles at many universities and was officially selected (in 2008) as one of the ‘30 most influential figures in the past 30 years of reforms in China’. In 2011, he was ranked in the ‘Global Top 100 Thinkers’ by Foreign Policy in the United States. Yu Keping was recently selected by the Chinese News Weekly as the ‘Most Influential Scholar of 2015’.

Yu Keping responded to critiques and questions during the morning and afternoon workshops devoted to an assessment of his work on such key subjects as the rule of law and corruption; democracy, governance and civil society; China’s global role; and the future of Chinese culture.

Reading material by Yu Keping

2015 SDN Annual Encounter with Michael Schudson

Launched in 2015, the annual SDN Encounter at the University of Sydney aims to bring together scholars, practitioners and members of the public to examine in detail the work of a leading contemporary thinker, in her or his presence. The one-day SDN Encounter includes a day-long forum (mainly by invitation only), an evening public lecture and follow-up media coverage.

The honoured guest of the 2015 inaugural SDN Encounter was Michael Schudson. Widely considered the leading media and communications scholar in the United States, he grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and gained his first degree from Swarthmore College before completing his doctorate in sociology at Harvard. Michael Schudson has taught at the University of Chicago and the University of California, San Diego. Since 2009, he has been a  full-time member of the prestigious Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

For his pioneering contributions to such fields as the history and future of American news media, advertising, citizenship and popular culture, Michael Schudson has received many honours, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a MacArthur Foundation ‘genius’ award. In 2014, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Groningen.

He writes for such newspapers as The New York TimesThe Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and the Financial Times. His work also appears in the Columbia Journalism Review, Wilson Quarterly and The American Prospect, and he has published many books. Among the best known are Discovering the News (1978); Advertising, the Uneasy Persuasion (1984); and Watergate in American Memory (1992). The Economist urged all Americans to read The Good Citizen: A History of American Civic Life (l998), while the London-based Times Higher Education praised Why Democracies Need an Unlovable Press (2008) as ‘eloquent and wise’. He has also co-authored an influential report on the future of news, The Reconstruction of American Journalism (2009).

Michael Schudson was present during the morning and afternoon workshop devoted to critically evaluating his work on such subjects as the politics of memory, the history of citizenship, the power of advertising and the future of news and democracy.