Economic historian Niall Ferguson has been chosen by the BBC to give the 2012 Reith Lectures.
The lecture series titled The Rule of Law and its Enemies will explore the influence of man-made institutions on global economic growth and democracy.
Professor Ferguson has written and presented five major television series, including The Ascent of Money, which won the 2009 International Emmy award for Best Documentary. His most recent books are High Financier: The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg (2010) and Civilization: The West and the Rest, also a major TV documentary series.
In Civilization he identified six 'killer apps' which enabled western civilization to dominate the rest of the world through modern history, but also warned that the centre of power was shifting.
"Good for old Fergie," said Herodotus Chair of History at Hounslow University Ken Lucid. "He's doing all right for himself, isn't he? It's good to see his keenness rewarded. Always liked him.
"I didn't fancy it this year, to be honest. They've asked me before and I've had to decline for one reason or another - usually completely over-committed.
The controversial academic added: "This year they asked if I could do something along the lines of the 'killer apps' - so I just said why not get Fergie in? He's a good lad and won't let you down.
"Looks like they took my advice."
The Reith Lectures were first broadcast in 1948 and were presented by the philosopher Bertrand Russell. They were named in honour of the BBC's first director-general, John Reith, who maintained that broadcasting should be a public service which enriches the intellectual and cultural life of the nation