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About the Institute of Ideas

The Institute of ideas is committed to:


  • The legacy of the Enlightenment: scientific and social experimentation, intellectual ambition and curiosity
  • Embracing change and making history
  • Art for art's sake, knowledge for its own sake, and education as an end in itself.
  • Freedom. To think, to act, to say what needs saying - even if it offends others
  • Challenging irrational social panics
  • Open and robust debate, in which ideas can be interrogated, argued for and fought over
  • Civil liberties, with no ifs or buts
  • Since 2000, the IoI has created a forum for intelligent and lively public debate of complex social issues. The Institute of Ideas grew out of three years of highly successful events organised by LM (formerly Living Marxism) magazine. These events were commended for daring to ask difficult questions, and for inviting panellists to speak outside of their professional roles. Their success proved a widespread thirst for lively debate. Freed from the constraints of demands for practical policy, participants became creative thinkers. In this spirit, we realised that it was time to take the initiative and to set up a more permanent space for debate, a new academy of ideas.

    Since then, the IoI has engaged with key debates around the themes of freedom, culture, science, thought and morality, and more in partnership with major institutions in London and beyond. The IoI hosts a yearly two-day festival, the Battle of Ideas, a reviews site, Culture Wars and runs an acclaimed Sixth Form debating competition, Debating Matters. The IoI has published several books, including the Conversations in Print, the Debating Matters series and a series of occasional papers.

    For an example of what we stand for, read our 21 Pledges for Progress 2010, the IoI's challenge to prospective MPs at the last election.


    The IoI in the news...

    Claire Fox came number 64 in Time Out’s ‘London Movers and Shakers’ list 2006, and is named as the capital’s No.3 activist.

    Claire Fox features in the ‘Who’s Who’ almanac for 2007.

    The Institute of Ideas was recommended as one of 21 ways to be better in 2004 in the Observer, 4 January 2004.

    Death of the Big Idea, an essay by Claire Fox for The Impossible Project, a book by David Cotterrell, explains the motivation behind the establishment of the IoI. Page 1-2; Page 3-4