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21-23 July, 2012

In July 2012, the Institute of Ideas will run its second Academy. The Academy is a three-day residential event for Institute of Ideas members aiming to remind us just what universities should be like and to demonstrate the importance of scholarship through an examination of subjects in depth.

At a time when inclusivity and equality are the watchwords of government higher education policy and education seems to be valued for almost any sake except its own, we think it’s vital to take a stand for the value of the content of education instead of fixating on object and process. It often seems that all spectrums of the education debate – whether for or against higher fees - accept the idea that university education should be to give value for money, should ‘deliver improved employability’ and increase ‘social mobility.’

Voices arguing for the value of learning in and of itself are too rarely heard and, when they are, are often shouted down as harking back to ivory-tower elitism. Yet it needs to be pointed out that treating subjects as investments in future earnings can hardly be an invitation to study the liberal arts and humanities.

We want to try and buck this trend: spending a long weekend doing nothing but educating ourselves. For its own sake. Not even for the sake of understanding the world today better (though, if that’s your aim, it can’t hurt to know more about the history of thought of course). The aim is simply to cultivate ourselves with good books, good teachers and in good company.

The second Institute of Ideas Academy will explore a fundamental question: the relationship between freedom and necessity, free will and determinism. Together we will try to understand something about how this question has been treated in history, philosophy, literature and the classics. Cultivate yourself over a long weekend with good books, good guides and in good company.

If you ever thought, what a shame I never read Kierkegaard, Homer, Paine or Dostoyevsky, now's your chance to better yourself. Whatever your age or education. IoI members come from all walks of life and will bring different perspectives and genuinely interdisciplinary insights to The Academy. What they all have in common is a passion for knowledge for its own sake.

The Academy features three parallel lecture series over the course of three days - on Classics, History, Literature - as well as a plenary series on free will and determinism. Ponder the paradox of Luther's defence of conscience and his denial of free will. Consider Sartre's argument that we are condemned to be free. Or just soak up and chat about literary representations of freedom, necessity, fate and responsibility, from Sophocles to Jane Austen and beyond.

Lecturers include: Michael Caines on Shakespeare, Frank Furedi on Luther and the Reformation and Roger Scruton on Kant and subjectivity.  Reading lists are available to IoI members attending to focus preparation and allow people to get the most out of The Academy.

Academy Scholarship Programme

This year the Institute of Ideas is launching an Academy Scholarship Programme allowing a limited number of full-time students between the ages of 18 and 26 to attend The Academy for only a fraction of the full cost - £60 for three nights accommodation and full board.

Application Process

To apply for an Academy Scholarship for 2012, please submit a 500-word (no more) essay on the question: "What is the value of the humanities today?" Please also submit a 300-word motivation on why you in particular deserve to attend The Academy.

Submit applications online by 11am on Tuesday 15 May 2012.

When your application is received you will be sent the initial reading list for the Academy.

For more information email scholarship@instituteofideas.com

The Academy 2012 will be held at Wyboston Lakes, Bedfordshire


The Robinson Executive Centre is a professional conference centre with free access to swimming pool, gym and leisure facilities. Costs include 2 or 3 nights’ accommodation in double ensuite rooms and full catering.


The site is child friendly and under 14s can stay in their parent’s rooms for free. Reduced rates are available for 14-16 year-olds. The venue does not run a crèche so parents should consider pooling duties. If you plan to bring children, or have any queries, do get in touch with Geoff Kidder: geoffkidder@instituteofideas.com

Arrival times:

Arriving on the Friday night, 20th July: includes dinner that night and full catering through to lunch on Monday 23rd.

Arrival on Saturday morning, 21st July: catering starts with lunch that day. Please ensure you can be checked in and ready for the first session to start promptly at 11am.

Provisional schedule:

Day One (Saturday 21 July, 11am start)

  • Plenary The Reformation: Martin Luther; the death of God; and the election of Man

  • Classics Heroic fate and Homer’s Iliad
  • History American ‘Manifest Destiny’ and the inevitability of Republican liberty
  • Literature Shakespeare and the curse of free will

  • Plenary Immanuel Kant and the purity of subjective experience

Day Two (Sunday 22 July)

  • Classics Destined for tragedy? Sophocles’ Theban Plays
  • History Communism in our lifetime? Marxism and economic determinism
  • Literature Jane Austen, the Brontës and Thomas Hardy: the reality of social life

  • Sunday Short Philosophy of Freedom
  • Sunday Short The Wanderer: fate and free will in Anglo-Saxon and Medieval literature

  • Plenary Kierkegaard: alienated man and the ethics of subjectivity

Day Three (Monday 23 July)

  • Classics Fighting for freedom in Herodotos' Histories
  • History Social Darwinism: the organic society?
  • Literature Nihilism and hope

  • Classics Petrarch and the Renaissance: how to cope with fortune
  • History Overthrowing authority: the '60s, authenticity, rebellion and the new subjection
  • Literature The absurdity of freedom

  • Plenary From Existentialism to neuro-science: condemned to be free?

Delegate Rates

Rates Price
Single occupancy 2 nights £315
Single occupancy 3 nights £385
Single occupancy 2 nights (Concs) £255
Single occupancy 3 nights (Concs) £310
Double occupancy 2 nights £575
Double occupancy 3 nights £685
Double occpancy 2 nights (Concs) £465
Double occpancy 3 nights (Concs) £560

2 night stay is on Sat 21 and Sun 22 July 2012

3 night stay is on Fri 20, Sat 21 and Sun 22 July 2012

Concessions are available for unwaged, senior citizens and full-time students

This event is for IoI members only. To join, or for more information on how to attend, please contact geoffkidder@instituteofideas.com