The Futures Lecture Series

A new lecture series showcasing pioneering interdisciplinary work across the sciences and humanities.

 The Futures Lecture series will feature high-profile guests who have redefined interdisciplinary research by making unexpected connections across fields and methodologies.

*We are delighted to continue the Futures lecture series in 2021-2022 with the following list of upcoming events organised and chaired by Professor Michela Massimi for EFI:*

Lea Ypi, 21 September 2021
What is political progress?

Progress is both a necessary and a dangerous idea. It is necessary if one strives to improve the way things are, and it is dangerous because the pursuit of progress has historically often given rise to paternalism, colonial domination and narratives of civilisational superiority. In my talk, I will defend a more critical account of progress. I will start by distinguishing between moral and political progress, then explore the relation between political progress, power and justice. I will suggest that we make political progress not when we approximate an ideal of justice that is always already known to us, but when the political institutions we construct reflect what we learn from the trials and failures of the past.


Ypi is a Professor of Political Theory in the Government Department, London School of Economics and Associate Professor in Philosophy at the Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University. Before joining the LSE, Lea was a Post-doctoral Prize Research Fellow at Nuffield College (Oxford) and a researcher at the European University Institute where I obtained my PhD. A native of Albania, Lea studied Philosophy and then Literature at the University of Rome, La Sapienza. Her research interests are in normative political theory (including democratic theory, theories of justice, and issues of migration and territorial rights), Enlightenment political thought (especially Kant), Marxism and critical theory, as well as nationalism in the intellectual history of the Balkans (especially Albania). She is a co-editor of The Journal of Political Philosophy and a commissioning editor of Renewal: A Journal of Social Democracy

Between 2019 and 2021 she will work on a new project on “What is political progress?” funded through a Philip Leverhulme Prize.

For more info, please see

Justin Smith, 18 November 2021
Why Philosophers Should Study Indigenous Languages

Although discretion often prevents us from saying it openly, languages such as Yanomami, Ainu, Ket, and Sámi are generally held by academic philosophers to be non-philosophical languages, from which one must depart if one wishes to start doing philosophy. This judgment of them goes together with their status as non-cosmopolitan languages. That is, philosophy, throughout its long history and very much still today, is presumed to be an activity that may be pursued only in languages that may pretend to universality. Is this presumption well-founded? In this talk, I would like to explore what it is like to speak a language that may not pretend to universality, in the ultimate aim of showing why familiarity with such languages may be an important source of philosophical insight.


Justin E. H. Smith is professor of history and philosophy of science at the University of Paris. He is the author of the forthcoming book, The Living Mirror: A Philosophy of the Internet (Princeton University Press, 2021), as well as of four other books published with Princeton. He is currently translating the Sakha (Yakut) oral epic, Olonkho, for the World Literature in Translation series of the University of California Press.

For more info, please see


Full details of the programme, including Eventbrite links, will be announced in due course.

Past Futures Lecture series events:

Professor Dame Athene Donald

Professor Frank Pasquale

Professor Adam Habib

Professor Tom McLeish

Professor Rosi Braidotti

Upcoming Futures Lecture Series Events