About: What is the Battle of Ideas 2008?

This annual weekend festival, initiated by the Institute of Ideas (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 fourth 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 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 RCA student exhibition on the theme, ‘designing the future’.

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 250 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.


To read Institute of Ideas 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.

 Festival Buzz

"Participating in the Battle was a little like entering a Bombay train at rush hour - it's a plunge into a swirl of wildly differing notions of how people should arrange themselves in a really tight situation. When you eventually emerge, you find that you're in a different place from where you started - and that you've been thoroughly energised from the journey. I can't wait to take the trip again next year."
Naresh Fernandes, editor-in-chief, Time Out India