events archive

The Academy 2012

At a time when inclusivity and equality are the watchwords of government 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.

4:00pm, Friday 20 July 2012, The Academy 2012 will be held at 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.

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 thought of course). The aim is simply to cultivate ourselves with good books, good teachers and in good company.

If you have ever thought, what a shame I never had time to study Kierkegaard, Homer, Darwin or Dostoyevsky, 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 first Academy, featured two parallel lecture series over the course of three days – one on Classics and one on History – and a third series, for everyone – on the historical development of consciousness.
The second will add a third parallel lecture series – on Literature – in addition to Classics and History while the plenary lecture series will concentrate on the overall theme of the event: free will and determinism.


The Robinson Executive Centre is a professional conference centre with free access to swimming pool, gym and leisure facilities. Costs include 2 or 3 nights’ accommodation in double ensuite rooms and full catering.


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, 20th July: includes dinner that night and full catering through to lunch on Monday 23rd.

Arrival on Saturday morning, 21st 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.

Provisional schedule:

Day One (Saturday 21 July, 11am start)

  * Plenary The Reformation: Martin Luther; the death of God; and the election of Man

  * Classics Heroic fate and Homer’s Iliad
  * History American ‘Manifest Destiny’ and the inevitability of Republican liberty
  * Literature Shakespeare and the curse of free will

  * Plenary Immanuel Kant and the purity of subjective experience

Day Two (Sunday 22 July)

  * Classics Destined for tragedy? Sophocles’ Theban Plays
  * History Communism in our lifetime? Marxism and economic determinism
  * Literature Jane Austen, the Brontës and Thomas Hardy: the reality of social life

  * Plenary Kierkegaard: alienated man and the ethics of subjectivity

Day Three (Monday 23 July)

  * Classics Fighting for freedom in Herodotos’ Histories
  * History Social Darwinism: the organic society?
  * Literature Nihilism and hope

  * Classics Petrarch and the Renaissance: how to cope with fortune
  * History The human in nature: the ascendancy of environmental history
  * Literature The absurdity of freedom

  * Plenary From Existentialism to neuro-science: condemned to be free?

Confirmed lecture titles and full reading lists will be available to attendees at the end of March.