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People in the audience at the Meet the Chancellor event

Durham University Chancellor, Dr Fiona Hill, met with staff, students and friends of the University as they came together to discuss the topic of regional development.

Fiona, an acclaimed international foreign policy expert who was born and raised in County Durham, was installed as Chancellor in June 2023. 

In the early part of 2023, Fiona was a Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow at the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin, where she carried out comparative work on connections between deindustrialisation and the rise of populist politics. The goal of her work was to explore models for redevelopment efforts and assess their success in reducing political polarisation. 

The event on Thursday 9 November was the first opportunity of its kind for members of the University community to meet with Fiona and engage with her in academic discussion. She shared her thoughts on one of her areas of academic expertise ‘Regional Development: Lessons from Germany’. 

Fiona delivered an engaging and thought-provoking presentation that shared her recent research into regional redevelopment in Germany.  

Focusing on the idea of “two Germanys”, the Ruhr and East Germany, and their very different experiences of regional redevelopment, Fiona drew on the parallels with our own region of the North East of England. She also highlighted the key lessons we should take away from Germany’s experience. 

Developing the region  

Fiona was joined at the event by Executive Dean Arts and Humanities, Professor Janet Stewart, who chaired the event, together with a panel of academic colleagues and students whose research and ongoing projects provide a direct benefit in the North East of England.  

Short presentations were given on:  

  • Heritage: Professor Julie-Marie Strange, Department of History 
  • Social Justice: Professor Nicole Westmarland, Department of Sociology 
  • Sustainability: Professor Tony Roskilly, Department of Engineering and Durham Energy Institute 
  • Business: Katherine Kirby, Durham University Business School 
  • Health: Professor Amanda Ellison, Department of Psychology 
  • Student Entrepreneurial Initiatives: Yuru Guo and Frankie Docker, Hey! Food is Ready 

Speaking about the event, Fiona said: "The event was a welcome opportunity to meet with staff and students and to share my research on regional redevelopment in Germany. I felt inspired hearing from staff and students about how their research and ongoing projects are having a positive impact in the North East of England. The University has a wealth of knowledge and talent, with projects across the University making a real difference to people’s lives.” 

Professor Janet Stewart, Executive Dean (Arts and Humanities), said:  

"This was a wonderful opportunity for us to hear Fiona's reflections on regional redevelopment in Germany and to consider the lessons we can learn from the German experience as we think about devolution and our role in Durham County and the region.  

“It was also a chance for Fiona to hear about the significant benefits that research being carried out across all four Faculties is bringing to the region in key areas such as sustainability, heritage, health, social justice and entrepreneurship.”  

Professor Jane Macnaughton, Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research) from the Department of Anthropology, also attended the event and said: “This was an opportunity for us to marvel at our new Chancellor’s erudition and practical good sense and judgement on world affairs, through the lens of her recent work in Germany.   

“She inspired us all by speaking of the University as an ‘anchor institution’ in our region and of the importance of engaging, making connections, and collaborating to bring about opportunities for making lives better.”    

You can watch an edited video of the Chancellor's presentation below.

Find out more:  

Th planning and delivery of the event was supported by colleagues in Marketing and Communications, Estates and Facilities and Computing and Information Services (CIS). 

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Dr Fiona Hill speaking in front of an audience

Dr Fiona Hill gives her presentation on "Regional Redevelopment: Lessons learnt from Germany" to the audience at the Meet the Chancellor event.

Two woman in front of an audience

The event was chaired by Professor Janet Stewart, Executive Dean (Arts and Humanities).

Panel at the event

Academic colleagues and students gave short presentations at the event on how the work they are doing directly benefits the North East of England.

Talking to an audience

The audience at the Meet the Chancellor event held at the Mount Oswald Hub.

Professor speaking in front of an audience

Professor Nicole Westmarland giving a presentation on Social Justice.

A professor speaking in front of an audience

Professor Julie-Marie Strange giving a presentation on Heritage.

Student talking in front of an audience

Yuru Guo giving a presentation on Student Entrepreneurial Initiatives and their company, Hey! Food is Ready.

Woman speaking in front of people

Professor Amanda Ellison giving a presentation on Health.

A woman talking in front of an audience

Katherine Kirby giving a presentation on Business.

Man speaking in front of people

Professor Tony Roskilly giving a presentation on Sustainability.

People talking at the Meet the Chancellor event

Dr Fiona Hill talking to attendees at the event.

People at the Meet the Chancellor event

Dr Fiona Hill talking to attendees at the event.

Dr Fiona Hill talking to people

Dr Fiona Hill talking to attendees at the event.