Universiteit Leiden

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Criminalising Curiosity? Counter-terrorism on Campus and Beyond

Tuesday 21 May 2019
Free entry, no registration required.
Public Ethics Talks
Turfmarkt 99
2511 DP The Hague
Spanish Steps


The threat of terrorism and risks of radicalisation pervade modern life. Universities are no exception as young people are particularly vulnerable to radicalisation. Nonetheless, a legal ‘Prevent Duty’ that requires UK universities and other educational institutions ‘to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’ is controversial.

This talk examines the co-option of universities as agents of counterterrorism and the implications of the Prevent Duty for fundamental rights. It asks whether this security obligation is consistent with the larger role of the university in a democratic society. As the UK government seeks to extend its powers to counter all forms of extremism, this talk contends that criminalising the curiosity of those who explore radical ideas or view ‘terrorist material’ online is likely to have a damaging chilling effect on freedom of speech, academic freedom and wider public debate.

Lucia Zedner

Lucia Zedner is a Senior Research Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford, Professor of Criminal Justice in the Faculty of Law, and member of the Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford. From 1994 to 2016 she was a Law Fellow at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. She was formerly a doctoral student and then Prize Research Fellow at Nuffield College Oxford (1984-89) and a lecturer at the London School of Economics (1989-94). She returned to Oxford in 1994, becoming a Reader in 1999 and Professor in 2005. She was elected as a Fellow of The British Academy in 2012 and as an Overseas Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law in 2015.

She has served on the editorial boards of many journals: currently these include the Criminal Law Forum, Criminal Law Review, Punishment and Society, International Journal of Criminal Law Education, and the Oxford Comparative Law Forum. She has been a member of the editorial board of the Oxford University Press monograph series Clarendon Series in Criminology since 1994 and served as General Editor of the series from 2010-12. She has also served on the Research College of the Economic and Social Science Research Council (ESRC - 2005-08); the Advisory Panel of The Leverhulme Trust (2013- 2016); The British Academy Projects Committee (2013- 2015) and Law Section Committee (2014-2017).  She has held visiting fellowships at universities in Germany, Israel, America, and Australia. Since 2007 she has also held the position of Conjoint Professor in the Law Faculty at the University of New South Wales, Sydney where she is a regular visitor. From 2014-2019, she is a member of the Fachbeirat (Advisory Board) of the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law, Freiburg.

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