Nanovic Institute to welcome Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anne Applebaum

Author: Gráinne McEvoy

Anne Applebaum, official image, cropped horizontal
Anne Applebaum

The Nanovic Institute for European Studies will welcome Anne Applebaum, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and Polish-American journalist, for a special Nanovic Forum event at 5:30 p.m. Apr. 22 in the Jordan Auditorium, Mendoza College of Business. “A Conversation with Anne Applebaum: The War in Ukraine, Russia and the Twilight of Democracy” is free and open to all and will be immediately preceded by a book signing and followed by a reception.  

Since the late 1980s, Applebaum has reported and commented on global political and economic change for leading publications in both the U.S. and Europe including The New York Times and The Guardian. With her particular focus on Eastern Europe, she has sounded an alarm about the rise of authoritarianism and its threat to liberal democracy in the West, especially in the last decade. In recent months, Applebaum has provided frequent and invaluable commentary on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. During this conversation, she will reflect upon nationalism and autocracy in Putin’s Russia and, through the lens of Ukraine, the threat posed by despotic leaders to democracies around the world. 

Clemens Sedmak, director of the Nanovic Institute and professor of social ethics in the Keough School of Global Affairs welcomes Applebaum to Notre Dame. “The Nanovic Forum is always a wonderful opportunity to host important voices and to connect all branches of the Notre Dame community to Europe through discussion of complex issues and big questions. Anne Applebaum is an astute and experienced observer of anti-democratic trends and her insights are acutely valuable at a time when there is an urgent need to understand the lure of authoritarianism. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has disrupted our world order and demonstrated the fragility of political structures that we may take for granted. Our friends in Ukraine are grateful for fora to reflect on these issues and to understand freedom, peace and solidarity more deeply. As always, we are very grateful to Bob and Liz Nanovic for the continued generosity that makes the Nanovic Forum possible.”  

Applebaum will be in conversation with Diane Desierto, professor of law and global affairs with a joint appointment in the Keough School of Global Affairs and the Notre Dame Law School. Desierto is a faculty fellow of the Nanovic Institute and several other units within the Keough School.  

Desierto describes Applebaum as “one of the leading historian-journalists today who speak truth to power about the continuing spread of democratic backsliding and authoritarianism all over the world, but most especially with its resurgence in Eastern Europe. Her historian’s acuity towards the fraying of human rights and fundamental freedoms, coupled with her journalist’s lens for the deterioration of checks and balances in many democracies around the world, is a much needed voice to understand why the liberal, rules-based, international system is under siege everywhere, especially in Ukraine.”

Born in Washington, DC in 1964, Applebaum is a graduate of Yale University and was a Marshall Scholar at the London School of Economics and St. Antony’s College, Oxford. From 1988 to 1991, Applebaum covered the collapse of communism as the Warsaw correspondent for The Economist and The Independent. She was a Washington Post columnist for fifteen years and has held positions as the foreign and deputy editor of The Spectator (London), political editor of The Evening Standard and as a columnist at Slate and the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph. Applebaum is currently a staff writer for The Atlantic, and a senior fellow at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. 

In addition to reportage and essays, Applebaum is the author of a number of books. These include “Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine” (Random House, 2017), and “Gulag: A History” (Doubleday, 2003) which won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction and was a National Book Award finalist. In 2021, she  published “Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism” in which she explains why elites in democracies around the world are turning away from liberal democracy and toward nationalism and authoritarianism. Of this transformation, Applebaum writes, “there is no single explanation, and I will not offer either a grand theory or a universal solution. But there is a theme: Given the right conditions, any society can turn against democracy. Indeed, if history is anything to go by, all of our societies eventually will.” 

The Nanovic Forum deepens Notre Dame’s rich tradition of connections to Europe by bringing European leaders from a variety of academic, cultural and professional fields to campus to discuss issues of major importance in Europe today. Established in 2011, the forum is sponsored by Robert and Elizabeth Nanovic.  

Past speakers in the Nanovic Forum have included David Alton (Lord Alton of Liverpool), British parliamentarian and human rights campaigner; Myroslav Marynovych, Ukrainian activist and vice-rector for university mission at the Ukrainian Catholic University; David O’Sullivan, former ambassador of the EU to the U.S.; Janne Haaland Matláry, former state secretary of Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and other prominent leaders in education, law, government and the arts. 

The Nanovic Institute for European Studies at the University of Notre Dame is an interdisciplinary home for students and faculty to explore the evolving ideas, cultures, beliefs, histories and institutions that shape Europe today. As part of the Keough School of Global Affairs, the institute is helping to advance integral human development through research, policy and practice.  

A complete list of the Nanovic Forum series and a video archive of the past lectures are available on the Nanovic Institute website