Prof. Timothy Garton Ash to be Awarded VMU Honorary Doctorate


Photo by Daniel Vegel (Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 4.0).

On Monday, 20 May, at 2 p.m., a solemn meeting of VMU Senate will be held in the VMU Great Hall (Gimnazijos g. 7, Kaunas), during which historian Professor Timothy Garton Ash will be awarded the regalia of VMU Honorary Doctor.

Prof. Timothy Garton Ash is awarded the title of VMU Honorary Doctor for his merits in the fields of international cooperation and strengthening of democracy, as well as for his significant contribution to fostering the values of freedom, justice, and solidarity.

Prof. Timothy Garton Ash is a British historian, journalist, Professor of European Studies at the University of Oxford, Isaiah Berlin Professorial Fellow at St Antony’s College in Oxford, and Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, who has authored eleven books on the transformation of Europe over the last 50 years.

Much of his work focuses on the recent history of Europe, particularly the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the region’s former communist regimes, the analysis of secret police archives, and the transformation of the former Eastern Bloc states into member states of the European Union. Prof. Garton Ash has also researched the role of Europe in the world and the challenges of political freedom, diversity, and freedom of speech.

Prof. Garton Ash’s scholarly influence can be compared to that of national leaders such as Václav Havel and Joachim Gauck. His connection with VMU primarily extends through the activities of the Andrei Sakharov Research Centre for Democratic Development. Prof. Garton Ash contributes to the development of the content for the Sakharov conference and has delivered a presentation at the 2021 conference. Prior to the establishment of the Centre, the historian maintained relations with Professor Leonidas Donskis.

Prof. Garton Ash was born in 1955 in London, England. After completing his studies at Exeter College and St Antony’s College at Oxford University, he went on to study at the Free University in West Berlin and at Humboldt University in East Berlin in the then still-divided Berlin. He was under the surveillance of the Stasi, the secret police of the former GDR, who suspected him of being a British spy.

During the Cold War, Prof. Garton Ash gained recognition as a supporter of freedom of speech and human rights in the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries, with a particular focus on Germany and Poland. His books include “Und willst Du nicht mein Bruder sein… Die DDR heute” (1981) on former East Germany, “The Polish Revolution: Solidarity” (1983) on the Polish Solidarity movement, “The Magic Lantern: The Revolution of ‘89 Witnessed in Warsaw, Budapest, Berlin, and Prague” (1990), and “Homelands: A Personal History of Europe” (2023), among many others.

In the 1980s, Prof. Garton Ash was Foreign Editor of “The Spectator” and a columnist for “The Independent.” He became a Fellow at St Antony’s College in 1989, a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution in 2000, and Professor of European Studies at the University of Oxford in 2004.

Since 2004, Prof. Garton Ash has been a columnist for “The Guardian.” He is also a long-time contributor to the “New York Review of Books”. His columns are translated in the Turkish daily “Radikal” and the Spanish daily “El País”, as well as other publications.

In 2005, “Time” magazine named Prof. Timothy Garton Ash as one of the 100 most influential people in the world: “Shelves are where most works of history spend their lives. But the kind of history Garton Ash writes is more likely to lie on the desks of the world’s decision makers,” “Time” wrote of the historian.

Prof. Garton Ash has received various awards for his distinguished scholarship, including the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, the George Orwell Prize, the Somerset Maugham Prize, the Premio Napoli, the Hoffmann von Fallersleben Prize for political writing, and the David Watt Memorial Prize.

The historian strongly opposes conservative and populist EU leaders such as Viktor Orbán in Hungary and Jarosław Kaczyński in Poland. He has expressed concerns about Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, and Brexit, and advocates for a liberal, pro-EU British perspective.

In 2017, when he was awarded the Charlemagne Prize in Germany, Prof. Timothy Garton Ash was described as “an influential English European and European Englishman,” who not only strives for the United Kingdom to remain within the European community of values but also significantly contributes to Europe’s conception of itself.

The event will be photographed and/or filmed; therefore, please note that you might be featured in photos or videos which can be published in various media outlets.

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