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Battle of Ideas (Day One of Two)

A stimulating interdisciplinary festival at which hundreds of people will have the opportunity to get to grips with and discuss the key ideas of our time. Six themed strands will run concurrently, with keynote sessions, panel discussions and other events.

The Institute of Ideas has conceived the Battle of Ideas as a new focus for our work, because over the past five years we have found a demand for lively, intelligent public debate cutting across particular issues and fields of interest. The Battle of Ideas is a new annual festival bringing together different strands of social, political, scientific, academic and cultural discussion. This reflects the IoI’s interest in how broad themes, from contemporary risk aversion to the ‘respect’ agenda, affect a variety of debates.

Never has a Battle of Ideas been so urgent. Since we conceived the festival, Prime Minister Tony Blair has called for a ‘battle of ideas’ in response to the London bombings on 7/7. He knows a good slogan when he sees it, but unfortunately, many of the government’s policy proposals since then seem more about closing down debate than opening it up. Laws curtailing free expression, and a general climate of inoffensive conformism, are anathema to the IoI’s aim of creating a space in which issues can be openly argued over. Free speech is not an abstract principle; it is crucial for tackling the problems society faces. It is free speech that enables different interpretations of the world to be debated on their merits.

In this spirit, we have brought together a diverse group of partners and sponsors around six themed strands covering everything from books to international relations. These run alongside keynote debates, café conversations, provocation lectures and film screenings. We are delighted that the Royal College of Art, a working art college rather than a traditional conference venue, has joined with us to allow all these debates to take place under one roof. This allows attendees either to follow strands through one day, or mix and match discussions. We hope all concerned will benefit from talking to people from beyond their immediate fields of interest.

Promising to give renewed vigour to intellectual life is a lot to load on one weekend. Many have noted there are lots of important issues not in the programme. The debates will not end once the festival is over, however. We hope the Battle of Ideas will set the following year’s intellectual agenda and act as a springboard for discussion papers, seminars and forums leading up until the Battle of Ideas 2006.


Professor Brian Barry | talks | www
Prof Simon Blackburn | talks | www
Speaker: Nick Cohen | talks | www
Professor Frank Furedi | talks | www
Professor Todd Gitlin | talks
Professor AC Grayling | talks | www
Kenan Malik | talks | www
Sir Trevor Phillips | talks
Naseem Khan | talks
Erica Wagner | talks | www


Date and Time:

29 October 2005 at 10:30 am


Full Day



Royal College of Art
Kensington Gore
020 7590 4444
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Organised by:

Institute of Ideas
See other talks organised by Institute of Ideas...



£60 weekend, £35 one day, discounts available

Available from:

020 7269 9220

Additional Information:


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