This page will be updated with further speakers as more names are announced.
The wide variety of speakers and debaters this term promises a colourful array of background and opinion. With speakers from across the globe and from all different walks of life, this term at the Union is certain to bring a spark to Oxford. President Michael Li trusts that this term’s speakers and debates will inspire hope in what is for many a uncertain world of change and instability.
Tony Pulis – Monday 1st May, 20.00
Having recently left Crystal Palace, Tony Pulis is the current manager of West Bromwich Albion following a 17-year footballing career. He achieved huge success while managing Stoke City, which he guided into the Premier League in the 2007-08 season.
David Haye – Tuesday 2nd May, 20.00
David “The Hayemaker” Haye is the second boxer in history to unity the World Cruiserweight division and go on to become World Heavyweight Champion of the World.
Eddie Jones – Friday 19th May, 20.00
Achieving initial success in international rugby coaching through leading Australia to the finals of the 2003 World Cup. He has since coached teams in Japan and England, including the Saracens, winning his first 17 games.
Roy Hodgson – Wednesday 24th May, 17.00
Hodgson has managed 16 teams in eight different countries including Inter Milan, Fulham and Liverpool, achieving exceptional results at the helm of each. Most recently, he managed the England national team between 2012 and 2016.
Helen Glover MBE – Friday 26th May, 20.00
Twice Olympic and three-time World Champion, quintuple World Cup champion and triple European champion, Glover is universally recognised as one of the best female rowers in history along with her partner Heather S tanning. The two have achieved the remarkable feat of holding all four of the World, Olympic, World Cup and European records.
Guy Poyet – Monday 5th June, 20.00
In the course of his career footballer Guy Poyet has played for Grenoble, Chelsea, and Tottenham Hotspur. He is current manager of Shanghai Shenua in the Chinese Super League, having previously successfully managed Brighton and Hove Albion.
David Weir CBE – Monday 12th June, 20.00
Six-time Paralympic gold medalist and six-time London Marathon winner David Weir was born with a spinal cord transection which disabled the use of his legs. Despite this, he has overcome his disability and enjoyed a remarkable sporting career that spanned over twenty years.
John Cleese – Thursday 20th April, 20.00
A 50-year career in comedy has made John Cleese a household name. His best-known work involves his being a founding member of the comedy troupe Monty Python, and his starring role as Basil Fawlty in Faulty Towers.
John Rhys-Davies – Monday 24th April, 20.00
Rhys-Davies’ work has varied massively over the course of his career. Playing Gimli in The Lord of the Rings and Sallah in the Indiana Jones films, his voiceover has included parts in Spongebob Squarepants and Aladdin.
M.I.A. – Tuesday 25th April, 20.00
Musician and artist M.I.A. is the only artist in history to have been nominated for a Grammy, Academy, Brit and Mercury award. She consistently speaks out on political issues ranging from the oppression of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka to rescuing child soldiers in Liberia.
Nick Cave – Monday 1st May, 17.00
Lead singer of The Birthday Party, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, and Grinderman, Nick Cave has been performing music for over thirty years. He is also an acclaimed movie score composer, screenwriter and novelist.
Judge Judy – Tuesday 2nd May 17.00
Retired Manhattan lawyer Judy Sheindlin presides over the CBS reality courtroom show Judge Judy, which has been the highest rated daytime show on U.S. television for the past three years.
Heston Blumenthal OBE – Wednesday 3rd May, 17.00
One of the greatest chefs of our generation, Heston Blumenthal is self-taught and renowned for his award-winning 3-Michelin starred ‘The Fat Duck’. His cooking techniques focus around a scientific understanding of cooking, as a result of which he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Sir Derek Jacobi – Monday 8th May, 17.00
One of the most successful British actors of all time, Sir Derek Jacobi has received two Olivier awards as well as a lifetime Tony award. Primarily a stage actor, Sir Derek has also enjoyed success in television and film, recently starring in The King’s Speech and Cinderella.
Armando Iannucci OBE – Wednesday 10th May, 17.00
Iannucci is best known as the creator and director of the BBC political satire The Thick of It. Adapted for American audiences, the concept has continued in HBO’s critically-acclaimed Veep.
Wiley – Wednesday 17th May, 17.00
Godfather of Grime, Wiley’s top 10 hits include “Wearing my Rolex”, “Can You Hear Me?” and “Heatwave”. Influenced by genres such as dancehall, garage and drum and bass, he regularly features amongst the most influential figures in British hip hop.
Jeremy Irons – Wednesday 17th May 2017, 20.00
Jeremy Irons trained at the Old Vic Theatre School. One of very few actors to achieve the ‘triple crown’ of acting, he has earned an Academy Award, an Emmy award, and a Tony award, in a career spanning stage and screen.
Dustin Lance Black – 6th week TBC
Dustin Lance Black is the critically acclaimed screenwriter of J. Edgar, Pedro and Milk. Black is recognised for his outspoken stance in support of gay rights, having been a founding member of the American Foundation for Equal Rights.
Tariq Ali – Wednesday 31st May, 20.00
Writer, activist and filmmaker Tariq Ali, an ex-president of the Oxford Union, has been outspoken in his criticism of American foreign policy and neoliberal economics. Ali has been politically active from a young age, opposing military dictatorship in Pakistan.
Daisy Ridley – Saturday 3rd June, 17.00
Actress Daisy Ridley achieved international fame when she appeared as Rey in the Star Wars sequel trilogy. She is currently due to appear in a film depiction of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and in Peter Rabbit, among other films.
Mark Gatiss – Tuesday 6th June, 17.00
Critically acclaimed writer, producer and actor Mark Gatiss is best known for having written all four most recent doctors in Doctor Who, and as the co-creator and executive producer (as well as appearing as Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft) of Sherlock.
Howard Gordon – Thursday 15th June, 20.00
Howard Gordon was an executive producer on the Fox action serious 24 and Showtime thriller Homeland. He won Emmy awards for the production of both while also writing and producing NBC’s fantasy Awake.
Ricky Gervais – Wednesday 14th June, 17.00
During his hugely successful career Ricky Gervais has won three Golden Globes, two Primetime Emmys, and seven BAFTAS. The Office, which Gervais created and starred in, is the most successful British comedy of all time, shown in more than 90 countries with seven different remakes.
Khizr Khan – Tuesday 25th April, 17.00
Harvard lawyer Khan famously addressed President Trump with the question “have you even read the United States constitution?” Khan and his wife, parents of Captain Human Khan who was killed in action in Iraq, are staunch critics of Trump’s islamophobia.
Erik Prince – Wednesday 26th April, 20.00
In 1997 former Navy SEAL Erik Prince founded Blackwater (now known as Academi), one of the largest private security firms in the world. Having sold the company in 2010, Prince continues to work in security sector and private equity.
Yeonmi Park – Wednesday 3rd May, 20.00
Yeonmi Park has dedicated her life to fighting for human rights following her defection from North Korea and falling into the hands of human traffickers in China. She has risen to fame following her delivery of a moving speech that has been viewed more than 82 million times.
Jeffrey Archer – Monday 8 May, 20.00
A successful author, life peer, and former prisoner, Lord Archer is controversial figure in British politics. His books have collectively sold over 330 million copies worldwide, and is one of a handful of peers to have served time incarcerated, in which time he wrote A Prison Diary.
E. Bujar Nishani – Tuesday 16 May, 20.00
Elected to be the sixth president of the Republic of Albania, Nishani’s policy priorities have been to integrate Albania into Europe, confront climate change and to find ways to solve the current migrant crisis.
Vadim Krasnoselsky – Friday 19 May, 17.00
Krasnoselsky became President of the landlocked, unrecognised state of Transistria in December 2016. The territory is located along the strip of the Moldovan-Ukrainian border, born out of aftermath of the USSR’s dissolution in 1992. Its legal and military status is as yet unresolved.
Simon Mann – Wednesday 24 May, 20:00
In 2004, former British Army officer Simon Mann found himself at the centre of an international storm, accused of leading a mercenary force to overthrow the government of Equatorial Guinea. He was sentenced to 34 years imprisonment, before being released after serving just over one year on humanitarian grounds.
Sally Jewell – Friday 2nd June 20.00
Sally Jewell served in the Obama Administration, having being appointed Secretary without ever holding an elected position. During her four year tenure she expanded conservation efforts and encouraged the transition to sustainable energy.
Morgan Tsvangirai – 7th week, TBC
Moran Tsvangirai is President of the Zimbabwean Movement for Democratic Change, and thus the leader of the opposition against President Robert Mugabe. He previously served as Prime Minister during a power sharing agreement with Mugabe, which was later abolished.
Dambisa Moyo – Thursday 11th May, 17.00
Dambisa Moyo is a best-selling author and thinker, advising on key decisions in public policy. Having focussed on geopolitics and millennial themes, she has been named on Time’s list of the 100 Most Influential people in the world.
Sir Venki Ramakrishnan – Friday 12th May, 17.00
A recipient of the Noble Prize in Chemistry, whose many scientific contributions include his work on the ribosome’s atomic structure, Sir Venki Ramakrishnan was elected President of the Royal Society in 2015.
Prof. Lisa Randall – Thursday 16 May, 17.00
Prof. Randall currently researches elementary particles, forces and extra dimensions in space at Harvard University. She is a leading light in modern particle physics, and has received acclaim from within and without the scientific community.
Sérgio Moro – Monday 15th May, 16.30
Moro is a Brazilian federal judge who has made himself a household name thanks to his involvement in high-profile cases of corruption and bribery. His efforts to address corruption resulted in his being put 13th on the list of Fortune’s 2016 World’s Greatest Leaders.
Prof. Maurice Obstfield – Thursday 25th May 2017, 17.00
The current Chief Economist at the IMF, Obstfield served on President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. He has written on subjects ranging from exchange rates to capital markets.
General Raymond Thomas – Wednesday 7th June, 20.00
General Thomas is a four star general in the US army. He has fought in both Gulf Wars and the Afghanistan War, as well as in the Invasions of Panama and Grenada. From 2012-3 Thomas was in charge of all US and NATO Special Forces in Afghanistan. He currently serves as the commander of the US Special Operations Command.
Michael Hayden – Friday 9th June, 20.00
Michael Hayden served as Director of the National Security Agency between 1999 and 2005, during which time he oversaw the expansion of the NSA’s surveillance program. From 2006-9 he was sworn in as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency until his retirement.
Marc Jacobs – 5th week, date TBC
Head designer of his fashion label, Jacobs was previously the creative director of Louis Vuitton from 1997 to 2014. With over 200 stores in 80 countries, his ongoing project “Protect the skin you’re in” raises awareness for melanoma by featuring nude celebrities on t-shirts.
“This house believes Kanye is more relevant than Shakespeare” – Thursday 4th May, 20.30
For: Ossian Ward, Jensen Karp, Big Narstie
Against: Justin Hunte, Anthony Anaxagorou
“This house believes a university must be a safe space” – Thursday 11th May, 20.30
For: Paris Lees, Richard Brooks
Against: Katie Hopkins, Peter Hitchens
“This house regrets the success of its friends” – Monday 15th May, 20.30
For: Ava Vidal, Simon Evans
Against: Piers Corbyn, Kate Smurthwaite
“This house believes patriotism divides us more than it unites us” – Thursday 18th May, 20.30
For: Stephen Hale OBE, Major General Jonathan Shaw CBE
Against: Baroness Tina Stowell, Cheryl Gillan MP
Thursday 18th May, 20.30.
“This house believes democracy is for sale” – Thursday 25th May, 20.30
For: Cenk Uygur, Michael Crick, Alexandra Runswick
Against: Floyd Abrams, James Bopp Jr., Andrew Bridgen MP
“This house welcomes China’s impact overseas” – Thursday 1st June, 20.30
For: Robert Rotberg, Prof. Linda Yueh
Against: Baroness Falkner, Pokong Chen
“This house believes feminist movements disregard minority women” – Thursday 8th June, 20.30
For: Baroness McGregor-Smith CBE, Minna Salami
Against: Yasmin Qureshi MP, Judy Cheng-Hopkins
The world’s shame: ending sexual violence – Tuesday 9th May, 20.00
Speakers: Angela Rose, Leslee Udwin, Polly Neate
This panel will aim to address some of the issues facing those trying to enact change across the globe, including the role that policymakers can play in the years to come.
Psychopath Night – Friday 12th May, 20.00
Speakers: Andy McNab, Dr Kevin Dutton, Ian Collins
Broadcaster Ian Collins interviews the authors of The Good Psychopath’s Guide to Success.
Hacking human attention: the ethics of persuasive technology – Friday 26th May, 17.00
Speakers: Prof. Tim Wu, Dr. Mary Aiken, Prof. Luciano Floridi
This panel will discuss the current methods of manipulation of psychological weakness by online technology and the ethical challenges being raised against the “attention economy”.