About What is the Battle of Ideas 2013?

This annual weekend festival, initiated by the IoI (IoI) and organized and supported by a wide range of partners and sponsors, makes virtues of free-thinking and lively exchanges of views. Now in its ninth year, the festival fosters an atmosphere of intellectual freedom and open-ended exploration of new ideas, research and social trends. FREE SPEECH ALLOWED!

We aim:

** to showcase new arguments about the core issues of the day, while avoiding getting bogged down in the minutiae of everyday policy

** to initiate open-ended discussions regardless of demands for immediate practical outcomes, which too frequently act as a brake on innovative thinking

** to shape the future through debate by better understanding the world with a view to changing it for the better.

The Battle of Ideas seeks to identify a new generation of public intellectuals and create a space where they can meet and have their ideas held to account.

The Battle of Ideas seeks to gather those who want to look behind the headlines and who are not prepared to be patronised with simplistic soundbites.

The Battle of Ideas seeks to attract attendees who are willing to challenge and to be challenged, and makes no apologies for putting ideas and argument centre stage.

Appropriately, this intellectual buzz all takes place at The Barbican, one of the world’s leading arts centres and a building where, as the Guardian put it, ‘there is always something rich and strange going on.’

The festival’s flexible format allows attendees either to follow particular strands through one day, or mix and match discussions. The wide variety of partners from the arts, academia, business, science and media both new and old, and the 300 speakers from a wide range of disciplines and viewpoints, results in a potent mix of perspectives, and should produce debates that give us all plenty to think and talk about.


The Battle of Ideas is organised by a committee of individuals from diverse fields and backgrounds, without whom the festival would not be possible. Consisting of students, published academics and professionals, the Battle of Ideas Committee regularly meets to thrash out ideas, discuss current issues and to work out the best ways of promoting the festival and its themes. The Battle of Ideas Committee can be viewed here.

What's innovation good for?

"The Battle of Ideas gives a forum for the most topical of debates and the healthy exchange of ideas - in our session what interested most was the contributions from the floor, also just the sheer buzz of the crowds in the foyers."
Jeremy Musson, writer and historic buildings consultant; former architectural editor, Country Life

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