Who are we?
The Academy of Ideas has been committed to organising free and open public debates for over 20 years. Since our foundation in 2000, we’ve hosted thousands of public debates, festivals, forums and salons where people from all walks of life come together to engage in intelligent public debates – often on controversial topics – to challenge contemporary knee-jerk orthodoxies. You can find out more information about our flagship annual event, the Battle of Ideas Festival, here.
What’s our history?
Our founder and director, Claire Fox, was publisher of LM (Living Marxism) and set up the Academy of Ideas when LM magazine was closed after a libel action in 2000. We are not associated with any particular political party, but we are passionately interested in politics and taking a robust stance on contentious issues. Since 2000 we have launched international debating championships, day schools, national conferences and regional meet-ups. Our philosophy has always been that public debates must be held in public and with the public. During the restrictions imposed by Covid-19 measures, we began a regular series of debates and discussions online.
Find out more about our events here.
What’s our mission?
Whatever event we organise we always hold on to one defining principle: free speech allowed.
We aim through our events, projects and salons to create an atmosphere of intellectual freedom and a space for open-ended exploration of new ideas, research and trends. Our events always aim to be a public intellectual gathering: akin to a truly accessible, living university. We believe that new generations should be encouraged to look behind the headlines and avoid over-simplistic conclusions on difficult topics. We are especially concerned about the ‘dumbing down’ of debate – we believe that the woman on the street has as much capability and need to engage in today’s political, scientific and cultural issues as any ‘expert’.
We are committed to the following 7 principles:
- Freedom: to think, to act, and to say what needs saying – even if it offends others
- Agency: embracing change and making history
- The Enlightenment: its legacy of scientific and social experimentation, intellectual ambition and curiosity
- Liberal arts: arts for art’s sake, knowledge for its own sake, and education as an end in itself
- Civil liberties: no ifs, no buts, and challenging arbitrary restrictions
- Rationality: including challenging irrational social panics
- Debate: open and robust debate, in which ideas can be interrogated, argued for and fought over
Outside of our main projects, we are often proud to support a range of political movements, causes and campaigns which we believe are worth backing. Check out our Podcast of Ideas to hear the team’s take on current affairs.