Radio series seeks to enliven and enlighten

Leading thinkers are to recreate the spirit of the Scottish Enlightenment in a BBC Radio 4 series made in association with the University.

A series of discussions will be held in venues linked to the great flowering of thought that took place during the 18th and early 19th century.

'Enlightenment After Dark' will be broadcast on Radio 4 at 11.30pm each weekday evening during the week beginning Monday, 28 August.

The University has provided venues and curated audiences of interested and knowledgeable people.

Radio series seeks to enliven and enlighten
(L-R) David Stenhouse (series producer), Prof Susan Deacon, Allan Little, Prof Dame Sue Black, Ken Currie and Prof Jonathan Seckl (Vice Principal Planning, Resources & Research Policy)

Engaging audiences

The programmes will bring together people from across a range of disciplines and perspectives to engage in thinking and conversation.

Among the staff and students taking part are lead contributors Jon Oberlander, Professor of Epistemics, and Mona Siddiqui, Professor of Islamic and Interreligious Studies. 

Hosted by broadcaster and Edinburgh alumnus Allan Little, the discussions are recorded in the presence of live ‘salon’ style audiences.

Historic link

The approach seeks to recreate the atmosphere of the salons that are associated with the philosophical movements of the 17th and 18th centuries.

These social gatherings, moderated by an inspirational host, brought together people through conversation and discourse in pursuit of knowledge and fellowship.

They played a central role in the development of democratic public debate and were a catalyst of important intellectual, political and artistic movements.

In the city where Adam Smith and David Hume sat down to dine and debate, this timely series brings together leading thinkers to explore some of the big challenges of our time. The University is delighted to be working in association with the BBC on this important new venture.

Professor Sir Timothy O’SheaPrincipal

The need to bring people and ideas together across disciplines and boundaries is as great now as it was in the days of the Scottish Enlightenment. This will be a series of passionate intellectual encounters, recorded in a city that has long been a place of argument and ideas.

Professor Susan DeaconAssistant Principal External Relations

Enlightenment After Dark Series - programme details

Each programme will air at 11.30pm on BBC Radio 4 and will be available on the BBCiPlayer thereafter.

Monday 28 August - Utopia

Historian and author Rutger Bregman and Professor Mona Siddiqui of the University of Edinburgh discuss ideas of Utopia, in the Professor’s Room of the Botanic Cottage at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh.

Tuesday 29 August – Bodies

Painter Ken Currie and forensic anthropologist and anatomist Professor Sue Black discuss the Body, in the atmospheric setting of the Old Anatomy Theatre in the University of Edinburgh’s former Medical School.

Wednesday 30 August - Enlightenment Beyond Europe

Europe essayist and novelist Pankaj Mishra and economist Ha-Joon Chang discuss the resonance of the Enlightenment beyond Europe, in the Library of Mistakes in Edinburgh.

Thursday 31 August – The Ageing World

Professor Sarah Harper, Director of the Royal Institution and writer and theologian Richard Holloway discuss Ageing, in the library at Newhailes House in Musselburgh.

Friday 1 September – The Digital World

Professor Jon Oberlander of the University of Edinburgh and tech philosopher Tom Chatfield discuss the Digital World, in the former 19th Century Church now occupied by The Data Lab at the University of Edinburgh.

Related links

BBCiPlayer Radio