events archive

The Academy 2013

Three days of university as it should be.

12:00pm, Friday 19 July 2013, Wyboston Lakes, Bedfordshire

From February 2019, The Academy is run under the auspices of a new charity, boi. For the latest information for The Academy 2019, and to buy tickets, visit the boi website.

At a time when inclusivity, fair access and learning outcomes are the watchwords of 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 ideas of course). The aim is simply to cultivate ourselves with good books, good guides and in good company.

If you have ever thought, what a shame I never had time to read Hobbes, Goethe, Cicero or Hobsbawm, 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. What they all have in common is a passion for knowledge for its own sake.

The Academy features parallel track lecture series over the course of three days – on Classics, History, Literature -­‐ and a plenary series – on man and nature – looking at the history of ideas from Hobbes to Nietzsche. Is man natural or unnatural? A noble savage corrupted by society? Or made human by law and civilisation? Are we driven by genetic or unconscious forces or are we the makers of our own natures? Do we make monsters like Frankenstein when we act on nature or perfect ourselves? Just how does the human and nature interact?

Lecturers include: Professor Angela Hobbs on Plato, Professor Frank Furedi on Hobbes (and Hegel), Professor Timothy O’Hagan on Rousseau, Ken MacLeod on science fiction, and Ivan Hewett on classical music. Reading lists are available to IoI members attending to focus preparation and allow people to get the most out of The Academy.

Provisional schedule:

Scholars’ Day (Friday 19 July, 12 noon start)

What is classical music?
Man: sinner or saint?
After tradition: thoughts on culture

Day One (Saturday 20 July, 11am start)

Plenary Hobbes: the nature of human government

Classics Nature. It is. It isn’t. Pre-­Socratics and Sophistics
History Louis XIV: man and monarch
Literature Man’s real nature: fallen angel

Plenary Jean-Jacques Rousseau, founder of the sciences of man

Day Two (Sunday 21 July)

History Hegel: the unnatural historian

Classics Nature, convention and society in Plato’s Republic
History 1848 and the making of modern Germany
Literature Man in nature: the Romantic sensibility

Sunday Shorts 4 lectures to be announced

Plenary Nietzsche: surpassing humanity

Day Three (Monday 22 July)

Classics Cicero: natural law; human duty
History Futurism: for science not art; youth not age; for the human; enslave nature!; smash the past!
Literature Man’s inner nature: self-­reflection and being psychological

Classics The self as work of art in Renaissance thought
History The rise of big history (and the descent of man)
Literature Man’s future nature: science fiction and beyond

Plenary Freud: the unconscious and the repressive society


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:

Arrival times:

Arriving on the Friday night, 19th July: includes dinner that night and full catering through to lunch on Monday 22nd.

Arrival on Saturday morning, 20th 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.