Lecture series on Intergenerational Justice will look at the impact of COVID-19

Gresham College, London’s oldest Higher Education Institution, is delighted to announce the appointment of Martin Daunton, Emeritus Professor of Economic History, University of Cambridge, as Visiting Professor of Economic History.

Martin Daunton is an author, historian and lecturer with a distinguished career in Economic History. His interests include the economic history of Britain since 1700, the shifting boundaries between the market and state, the politics of public finance, relations between national and international economic policies, and debates over intergenerational justice.

Visiting Professor Martin Daunton said:

"Intergenerational justice has never been more relevant than today, whether you’re looking at who has paid the highest price for COVID-19 so far, and who will pay the financial cost in the future; or at the rhetoric used by climate change activists like Extinction Rebellion and by the Black Lives Matter protests."

"Lockdown as a result of COVID-19 has forced many, including the youngest (and least at risk) to suffer economic hardship, in order to protect the oldest and most vulnerable in society. If future generations are again called on to pay for the costs of COVID-19, will it break our social contract? Should Baby Boomers be taxed instead to create a fairer society between generations? Should the government inflate its way out of the problem, or will this lead to social unrest? Can we grow our way out?”

“In my Gresham lectures I will look at how different societies over time have grappled with issues like these.”

As a Visiting Professor at Gresham Martin Daunton will continue the College’s tradition of delivering free public lectures within the City of London and beyond. During the academic year, Gresham College fills auditoriums for its lectures – a total of 130 a year. All Gresham lectures are live-streamed. More than 2,500 past lectures are freely available to view on the College’s website.

Sir Richard J Evans, Provost of Gresham College, said:

“We are delighted to welcome Professor Martin Daunton as a Visiting Professor at Gresham to give this lecture series about an issue that affects us all.”

The Lectures

In 2020-21, Visiting Professor Martin Daunton will give 3 lectures on Intergenerational Justice. Depending on how the Covid-19 situation develops, these will either be delivered at Barnard’s Inn Hall, or available only online.

What Do We Owe Society? Tuesday 10th November 2020, 6pm-7pm, (Barnard’s Inn Hall)/ online

How has COVID-19 re-shaped our ideas about what we owe society? The financial crisis of 2008 and now the lockdown have had a terrible impact on the economic prospects of young people, and the elderly have suffered from high mortality in care homes. Should people save and pay for their own pensions, care in ill-health and old age as an individual responsibility? Or should we fund it through taxes? Might Covid-19 mark a further shift in the balance between collective versus individual responsibility? 

Should We Inherit? Tuesday 16th February 2021, 6pm-7pm, (Barnard’s Inn Hall)/ online

The baby boomers have accumulated assets and have generous occupational pensions. Should they pass these assets to their descendants, with the risk of growing inequality, or should they be taxed to benefit society as a whole? Is inheriting morally dangerous? Or are inheritance taxes theft? Should people with accumulated assets pay a wealth tax to fund the national debt and encourage greater equality and social cohesion?

What Do We Owe to Those Not Yet Born? Tuesday 13th April 2021, 6pm-7pm, (Barnard’s Inn Hall)/ online

Climate change and the over-exploitation of resources now may mean that unless the current generation modifies its behaviour, generations ahead may either not be born or will inherit a world with severe problems. A village or even a nation state can develop rules to prevent depletion of resources. But how can this be done globally when the action of one country can have a harmful effect on another, and when economic nationalism is on the rise?

About Martin Daunton

Martin Daunton was brought up in South Wales, and attended Barry Grammar School for Boys. He read economic history at the University of Nottingham and then studied for his doctorate at the University of Kent. He taught at Durham University and was Astor Professor of British History at University College London, before becoming Professor of Economic History at Cambridge. He has been President of the Royal Historical Society and Master of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, as well as Chair of the Faculty of History and Head of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Gresham College During Coronavirus/ COVID-19

During the lockdown period in the UK, Gresham College has been live-streaming as many lectures as possible online. We are currently expecting to start the 2020-21 academic year online-only, but to gradually introduce in-person audiences as lockdown eases.

Note to Editors: 

Further information and photos from Lucia Graves in the press office:  l.graves@gresham.ac.uk

As lockdown eases, press tickets will be available for lectures, and embargoed transcripts are sometimes available ahead of time: please email Lucia to ask.