About: What is the Battle of Ideas?

The weekend, initiated by the IoI and organized and supported by a wide range of partners and sponsors, makes virtues of free-thinking and lively exchanges of views. 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 the demands for immediate practical outcomes, which too frequently act as a brake on innovative thinking

Emulating the best of academia, the Battle of Ideas fosters an atmosphere of intellectual freedom and open-ended exploration of new ideas, research and trends. Additionally we challenge academics to distil their insights for a public intellectual gathering, creating a truly accessible university. The IoI seeks to identify a new generation of public intellectuals, and create a space where they can meet and have their ideas held to account.

Emulating the best of the literary festivals, the Battle of Ideas asks authors to join panels and bring their written work to life. Additionally we challenge authors to reflect beyond their latest books and apply their insights to broad questions of intellectual importance. The IoI seeks to create a space where readers and writers alike can mull over the social trends reflected in the latest fiction and non-fiction.

Emulating the best of the media, the Battle of Ideas brings together broadcasters, journalists and columnists to continue their invaluable role as inquisitors of current affairs. Additionally we challenge panels of pundits to become more than talking heads, and instead interact with the audience and engage with their ideas. The IoI seeks to gather those who want to look behind the headlines and who are not prepared to be patronised with simplistic soundbites.

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 200 speakers from a wide range of disciplines and viewpoints, means a potent mix of perspectives, and should result in debates that give us all plenty to think and talk about. We work hard to attract festival attendees who are willing both to challenge and to be challenged.

Appropriately, in the year of the 150th anniversary of the Great Exhibition cultural hub in South Kensington, this intellectual buzz all takes place at the Royal College of Art, a working art college, rather than a traditional conference venue, and a cherished home to creativity, which will also feature a specially curated exhibition on the theme, ‘should art change the world?’




To read IoI director Claire Fox’s welcome essay, please click here.

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.

For the first time in 2007, we gathered a group of advisors who have generously given their time to advise on the content of the festival. We would like to thank them all. The Battle of Ideas Advisors can be viewed here.

The old Battle of Ideas 2006 site can be viewed at www.battleofideas.co.uk.



 Festival Buzz

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"The 2006 Battle of Ideas did what it said on the tin: prejudices were punctured, common wisdom was questioned and original thinking honoured. The saying was coined in Texas, but I suggest that the Battle of Ideas adopts it as the conference motto: ‘sacred cows make the best burgers."
George Brock, Saturday Editor, The Times