New Podcast – Colm Tóibín on universities in the era of Brexit and Trump

Colm Toibin

Colm Toibin is an award-winning Irish author, playwright and journalist, and the newly-installed Chancellor of the University of Liverpool. Colm appeared on the University’s Podcast to discuss how he perceives the role of universities in society. The podcast is now available to download, review and subscribe on iTunes, Tunein and Blubrry.

Colm is the author of eight novels, including Brooklyn, the Costa Novel of the Year in 2009 that was adapted into an Oscar-nominated film in 2015.


Against a turbulent backdrop in modern history, Colm believes universities can help provide the insight and capacity needed for citizens to best understand the world in which they live.

“We need to understand the current trends going on,” he says. “We have to go beyond the headlines of the day and learn to read under them. In every area, from literary criticism, to science, to engineering. We need to be able analyse what’s happening.”

He adds: “Part of what a university means, is that people leaving university will be better at interpreting things like that.”


By encouraging pride in intelligence, universities inspire both students and faculty alike. It is a feeling that Colm believes universities should treasure.

Reflecting on his studies at University College Dublin, he recalls “finding moments of pure clarity in a classroom, as somebody with a brilliant mind actually began to disentangle something that you couldn’t have imagined before.

“The question of being as intelligent as possible remains at the very centre of the enterprise,” he says. “That’s really what inspires me and I think it inspires most of the people that I know who work as university teachers.”

About this podcast

The podcasts aim to bring listeners closer to some of the academic experts, authors and innovative thinkers from the University who, through their in-depth analyses, research and discoveries are affecting positive change in the world today.

The series, hosted by Canadian journalist and producer Neil Morrison, features in depth conversations with one or more of our academic experts discussing research in their specialist field.

The podcasts, which have been produced in collaboration with the University of Liverpool online programmes team, are intended to provide a quick route to insider knowledge on new trends and upcoming key issues.


Other episodes available include; ‘Help! Is my child a Psychopath?’, ‘The Business of Football’, ‘Who will tell the robots what to do?’, ‘Big Data and the search for MH370’, ‘Suzi Gage on ‘Say Why to Drugs’, ‘Nano-medicine shrinks the cost of HIV treatment’, ‘Liverpool – Cradle of the Beatles’ and ‘Follow your nose’.

If you would like to contact our podcast with feedback or suggestions for future recordings please e-mail

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