Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy, Nobel prize-winning economist Robert Engle and cyborg artist Neil Harbisson are but some of the guests that the Philosophical Society will be hosting this year, while gender theorist Judith Butler and Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams are among those visiting the Historical Society.
Various societies’ freshers’ publications, which have been made available in a digital format by the Central Societies Committee (SCS) and the respective societies, reveal the names of some high-profile guests who will be receiving awards from Trinity societies this academic year. The University Philosophical Society’s Philander magazine announced the impending visits of a wide variety of guests, including comedians Amy Poehler, Simon Amstell, and Steve Coogan, British critic AA Gill, American venture capitalist Peter Thiel, astronaut Chris Hadfield, musician Pete Wentz, and author Daniel Handler, who publishes under the pseudonym Lemony Snicket.
Discussing the diversity present in the list of those receiving awards, Phil president Sarah Mortell said that “the crux of why we invite speakers is to create a platform where students can engage with incredibly successful and inspiring people.” She added: “I feel a great responsibility to cater to all of our members, from House 6 to the Hamilton. As opposed to broadening the society activities, I hope this will increase the number of engaged members.”
Auditor of the College Historical Society, Michael Coleman, confirmed by email that the Hist will be presenting several awards this year, in a list that was also published on the Hist’s Facebook page. Kaushik Basu, the Chief Economist of the World Bank, and Thomas Piketty, author of the income-inequality bestseller Capital in the 21st Century, will be visiting the society, as will Artemis Fowl Author Eoin Colfer.
Former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese will be making a return to Trinity when she addresses the Hist, having served as Reid Professor of Criminal Law. Martin Sheen, who played her fictional American counterpart Josiah Bartlett, in the West Wing, will be returning to Ireland having visited many times, and having studied at NUI Galway in 2006.
Speaking to Trinity News, Coleman said: “We’re lucky to be in a university that has societies with such pulling power…Being able to draw on the prestige of the Hist, and I’m sure it’s the same for the Phil, was certainly a huge advantage.” Mortell echoed these comments when she referred to the “responsibility” she feels, describing the Phil as a “society with not only history and prestige, but a damn good recent record,” and acknowledged the support of her society’s council, sponsors and the CSC.
While the Phil and the Hist may be Trinity’s oldest societies, one of Trinity’s youngest societies, the Society for International Affairs (SoFIA) is continuing with its practice of hosting high-profile diplomats. The Palestinian Ambassador to Ireland, His Excellency Ahmad Abdelrazek, will be addressing SoFIA members during the first week of the teaching term.
Dublin University Law Society’s hosting of illusionist Derren Brown at their inaugural meeting at the end of Hilary Term appears to have begun a trend of presenting awards to guests not engaged in the legal profession. Alongside UK Supreme Court Judge Lord Neuberger and Human Rights Lawyer Amal Alamuddin, the guest list published in the magazine LawShock includes Love/Hate actor Aidan Gillen, Game of Thrones writers, Trinity alumni DB Weiss and David Benioff and actress Gwendoline Christie.
Dublin University Players will host several Irish personalities, with chairperson Donal McKeating stating that in Michaelmas Term the society will host comedian David McSavage, theatre and film veteran Barry McGovern, What Richard Did actor Jack Reynor, and actor and comedian Ardal O’Hanlon, perhaps best known for his role as Father Dougal McGuire in FatherTed.
These recipients join an illustrious list of people who have received awards from College cocieties in recent years, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, former UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay, actor Pierce Brosnan, and human rights lawyer Cherie Booth QC.