about the IoI

Expanding the Boundaries of Public Debate

The Institute of Ideas was founded in 2000 to provide a forum committed to open and robust public debate in which ideas can be interrogated, argued for and fought over. We organise intelligent public debates, on controversial topics, and most importantly challenge contemporary knee-jerk orthodoxies. One focus of our work is to ensure that new generations look behind the headlines and avoid over simplistic conclusions on difficult topics. We are especially concerned about the ‘dumbing down’ of debate, and to this end we organise a range of high-profile public events.

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, but very much in the sense of a public intellectual gathering: a truly accessible, living university.

Founder and Director Claire Fox was publisher of LM (Living Marxism) and set up the Institute of Ideas when LM magazine was closed after a libel action in 2000. The Institute of Ideas is not associated with any particular political party, but we are passionately interested in politics and taking a robust stance on contentious issues.

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: no ifs; no buts.

Outside of our main debating projects, we are often proud to support a range of political movements, causes and campaigns which we believe are worth backing. For a general indication of our perspective, you may want to examine our ’21 Pledges for Progress’, which we published in the run-up to the 2010 General Election. Or just listen to our Podcast of Ideas to hear our take on current affairs.

Yet whatever event we organise we always hold on to one defining principle: free speech allowed.

join the IoI

The Institute of Ideas' mission is to expand the boundaries of public debate by organising conferences, discussions and salons, and publishing written conversations and exchanges.




For press enquiries relating to any aspect of the Institute’s work please email our press officer David Bowden or phone +44 (0)775 194 2606 / +44 (0)207 269 9221


For general enquiries email Geoff Kidder or phone +44 (0)207 269 9220

what's happening next

What are the rights and wrongs of school dress codes?

Tuesday 25 January, 7pm, CIEE London Global Institute, 46-47 Russell Square, London WC1B 4JP