The Holberg Debate 2016: Free Speech in an Age of Diversity and Conflict

How can we build a framework for ‘civilized conflict’ in multicultural societies where different world views determine which types of expression that are deemed unacceptable?

In the first Holberg Debate, we will discuss pressing dilemmas relating to freedom of expression and the flow of information in a digital age. The Holberg Prize has invited Professor Timothy Garton Ash to elaborate on central themes in his 2016 book “Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World”.

Following the interview, Professor Garton Ash will join Kari Steen-Johnsen and Jostein Gripsrud in a panel discussion on free speech, how states and citizens may create a framework for “civilized conflict” in multicultural societies, and how different actors aim to control the vast amount of information that is constantly available to a global audience. Anine Kierulf will be the moderator for the panel discussion.

The Holberg Debate is inspired by Ludvig Holberg as man of the Age of Enlightenment and seeks explore pressing issues of our time. The debate will be held annually on 3 December, Holberg’s birthday, starting this year.


Timothy Garton AshTimothy Garton Ash is Professor of European Studies and Director of the European Studies Centre at St. Antony's College, University of Oxford. His research has focused on European history and on the challenges of combining freedom and diversity, in particular with respect to freedom of speech. His most recent book is Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World (2016).



Jostein GripsrudJostein Gripsrud is Professor of Media Studies at the University of Bergen. He was the first chair of the Public Service Broadcasting Council 1996-99, a columnist for the daily Dagens Næringsliv 1998-2011 and the initiator and first editor-in-chief of the free speech related online magazine Vox Publica 2006-08.



Kari Steen-JohnsenKari Steen-Johnsen is Research Director at the Institute for Social Research. Her current projects include «The state of freedom of speech in Norway 2015-2017.» The project focuses on “Boundaries in the Public Sphere,” as they relate to freedom of expression, religion and politics.



Anine KierulfAnine Kierulf  is a research fellow at the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, University of Oslo. Her main focus is constitutionalism, human rights and freedom of speech. She has received several awards for her involvement in these issues




to 17:00, CET.
House of Literature in Bergen
Practical information
Open for all and free admittance.

The event will be broadcasted as streaming on this page.