Conference 2019

Sidmennt – the Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association

What are the Ethical Questions of the 21st Century?


June 1. 2019


Be Inspired by Iceland

If you have the time we hope you will use your trip to explore Iceland. Click on the play icon to see what Iceland has to offer. 

Conference program

  • 08:30 Registration

    At the conference hall in Askja, at the University of Iceland

  • 09:30 - 09:45 Opening address

    Opening address by the president of Iceland, Mr. Guðni Th. Jóhannesson

  • 09:45 - 11:05 1st session - Environment

    Sián Berry, Guðbjörg R. Jóhannesdóttir, Auður Önnu Magnúsdóttir

  • 11:05 - 11:30 Intermission
  • 11:30 - 12:50 2nd session - Refugees

    Þórunn Ólafsdóttir, Wilfried Buchhorn, Íris Björg Kristjánsdóttir

  • 12:50 - 13:50 Lunch break

    Lunch will be served at Háma in the main building of the University

  • 13:50-15:10 3rd session – Economic injustice

    Guðmundur Ævar Oddsson, Eyja Margrét Brynjarsdóttir, Polly Toynbee

  • 15:10-15:30 Coffee break
  • 15:30-16:50 4th session – Democracy

    Jón Ólafsson, Torbjörn Tännsjö, Brian Klaas

  • 16:50-17:00 Conference summary and conclusion

    Siðmennt's anual Humanist awards will be presented before the closing session.

  • 20:00-22:30 Gala dinner – Restaurant Reykjavík

    Apertif will be served from 19:00


Brian Klaas

Dr. Brian Klaas is an Assistant Professor/Lecturer in Global Politics at University College London and a columnist for The Washington Post. Klaas is also a frequent television commentator and political consultant. He was previously based at the London School of Economics and the University of Oxford.


Eyja Margrét Brynjarsdóttir

Eyja Margrét Brynjarsdóttir is an adjunct lecturer of philosophy at the School of Education at the University of Iceland. She got a PhD in philosophy from Cornell University in 2007 and works on various topics having to do with the application of philosophy to the social world, such as in social metaphysics, social epistemology, and feminist philosophy. Most recently, she has been working on matters pertaining to economic inequality, delusions concerning meritocracy, epistemic injustice, epistemic and emotional manipulation, and various issues concerning the #MeToo movement. Her book The Reality of Money: The Metaphysics of Financial Value was published by Rowman and Littlefield International in the fall of 2018.

Íris Björg Kristjánsdóttir

Gender and Humanitarian Specialist of UN Women in Turkey and Europe and Central Asia Regional Office. She has over 15 years of professional experience in the field integration, migration and refugee response, For the last two years, has been building up gender sensitive refugee response programming and support due to the Syria crisis in Turkey with special emphasis on strengthening services and support to affected women and girls and strengthening gender responsiveness of the inter-agency coordination work and the Syria 3RP Regional Refugee & Resilience Plan.


Guðbjörg R. Jóhannesdóttir

Guðbjörg is an associate professor both in the Department of Design and Architecture and the Department of Arts Education at the IAA as well as being a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Iceland’s Institute for Philosophy. Environmental philosophy has been at the center of her works from the start of her studies at the University of Iceland. She completed an MA in Values and the Environment at Lancaster University and PhD studies at the University of Iceland. Guðbjörg’s research interests include environmental aesthetics, environmental ethics, phenomenology, sensuous knowledge, embodiment, perception, landscape, interdisciplinary practices and participatory practices.

Guðmundur Ævar Oddsson

Guðmundur Oddsson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Social Sciences and Law at the University of Akureyri, Iceland. Oddsson currently heads the university’s Police Science program. He received his PhD from the University of Missouri, Columbia, in 2014 and was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Northern Michigan from 2014 to 2017. His research focuses on social control, deviance, and class inequality, particularly the subjective dimensions of class. He has published in journals such as The Sociological Quarterly, Acta Sociologica, Sociological Focus, the International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, and Berkeley Journal of Sociology.

Jón Ólafsson

Jón Ólafsson is professor of Cultural Studies at the University of Iceland. His research interests combine cultural theory and political philosophy and his most recent papers deal with political culture, including dissent and protest action; epistemic democracy, democratic engagement and democratic constitutional design. From 2010 to 2013 he led work on ethical codes for government ministers, public servants and state employees, and in 2018 he chaired a working group on trust in government and public service which submitted a report and proposals to the Prime Minister in September 2018. He is currently chairman of the board of Gagnsæi an association against corruption associated with Transparency International.

Polly Toynbee

Polly Toynbee, political and social commentator for The Guardian newspaper, is the BBC’s former Social Affairs Editor. Twice named Commentator of the Year, she is also a winner of the George Orwell prize. Her books include studies on manual work, inequality, the health service and the last Labour and Conservative governments. „Unjust Rewards – Ending the greed that is bankrupting Britain“ was written with David Walker. Their latest book is Dismembered – How the attack on the state harms us all.

Auður Önnu Magnúsdóttir

Auður Önnu Magnúsdóttir is the General director of Landvernd, the Icelandic environmental association. She holds an PhD in biochemistry jointly from Stockholm University and Karolinska Institut in Sweden and has worked in Icelandic biotech companies on research and management. She held the postition of Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural and Envrionmental Science at the Agricultural University of Iceland from 2016-18 and founded and chaired the Icelandic association of Women in the Sciences. She has been involved in environmental and social justice campaigning since her teens.


Sian Berry

Sian Berry has lived in London since 1997 and has worked as a medical copywriter, PA, website manager, project manager for a digital start-up, author and transport campaigner before being elected to the London Assembly in 2016.

She has been a local councillor in the Highgate ward of Camden since 2014. She was one of the Green Party’s Principal Speakers from 2006 to 2007, stood as candidate for London Mayor in 2008 and 2016 and is currently party Co-leader with Jonathan Bartley.

In 2003 Sian co-founded the Alliance against Urban 4×4s, was a driving force behind the Reheat Britain campaign that secured a boiler scrappage scheme in 2009 and worked for Campaign for Better Transport from 2011 to 2015. She is a patron of the British Humanist Association and is a trustee of her local nature reserve.

Torbjörn Tännsjö

Torbjorn Tannsjo is Kristian Claëson Emeritus Professor of Practical Philosophy at Stockholm University. He has published exstensively in moral philosophy, political philosophy and bioethics. His most recent books are Understanding Ethics (Edinburgh UP, third edition 2013), Taking Life. Three Theories on the Ethics of Killing (Oxford UP 2015) and Settingh Healt-Care Priorities. What Ethical Theories Tell Us (Oxford UP, forthcomning 2019).

Wilfried Buchhorn

Deputy Regional Representative for Northern Europe at UNHCR. Wilfried Buchhorn joined UNHCR in 1994. He has previous been Head of the UNHCR Liaison Officer to the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and has supported the development of a Common European Asylum System and the coordination of UNHCR activities in response to the European refugee emergency.

Þórunn Ólafsdóttir

Þórunn Ólafsdóttir is the chairman of Akkeri, an association that work on issues for the benefit of refugees, both in Iceland and abroad. Akkeri aims to utilize the knowledge and experience of those who have worked as volunteers in receiving refugees and continue strengthening the aid for them.

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