In 2010, LSE, the Hertie School and Stiftung Mercator created a joint initiative to honour Lord Dahrendorf’s legacy as a leading sociologist and public intellectual with a passionate commitment to the European idea.
The initiative grew to become the Dahrendorf Forum, a major research and policy engagement network that brought together academics and practitioners to debate and critically reflect upon Europe’s future. The Dahrendorf Forum aimed to address questions about the future of Europe and its role in the world.
The Dahrendorf Forum ran from 2010 to 2020. As part of the project, there were more than 100 publications, 120 events, including 3 Dahrendorf Symposia and several other high-level events in Berlin, London, Brussels, and Washington. Over 80 researchers from Europe and beyond have been involved, dedicating time and offering their expertise to answer the great questions on the future of Europe and its role in the world.
To access the full range of publications (including reports and working papers), podcasts and previous events from the completed project,
Visit the Dahrendorf Forum website.
The Forum took its name from Ralf Dahrendorf (1929-2009).
Professor Dahrendorf rose to academic fame in post-war Germany as a leading social scientist with a wide range of interests in sociology and political thought. He entered politics in the late 1960s, becoming a Member of the German Bundestag in 1969. In 1970 he became a Commissioner in the European Commission. From 1974 to 1984 he served as Director of the LSE and was appointed to the House of Lords in 1993 as Lord Dahrendorf of Clare Market.
Writing in 1969, Dahrendorf famously defined the role of the public intellectual thus: “to doubt everything that is obvious, to make relative all authority, to ask all those questions that no one else dares to ask”. Whilst throughout his life Dahrendorf was always passionately committed to the European project, he was never blind to its shortcomings and the challenges of integration.
In his work he sought to defy boundaries in academic and policy debates on Europe, questioning the established consensus and highlighting issues that might otherwise be ignored – not for criticism’s sake but in order to move Europe forward. Never before have these principles of critical thinking been so timely or relevant as today as we confront the immense and fundamental challenges currently facing Europe.