forthcoming events

The Academy 2018

University as it should be: our annual two-day summer school for anyone interested in studying ideas.

Saturday 21 & Sunday 22 July 2018, Wyboston Lakes Executive Centre, Bedfordshire

About The Academy

The Academy has been running since 2011. Bringing together a wide range of people of all ages and educational backgrounds, The Academy is a modest attempt to demonstrate the value of scholarship in itself in today’s climate of instrumental approaches to knowledge, the use of universities as social-engineering battering rams and the incessant demands to show value for money.

Academy 2018

The Academy 2018 will examine the history and significance of popular sovereignty from ancient Athens to the present day. What different forms has society and public life taken from the early appearance of democracy? What have been the trends and challenges? What does contemporary populism and the reaction against it - against national sovereignty and borders - mean for the early 21st century?



Welcome address: On populism
Angus Kennedy

Nation, nationalism and national consciousness
Lecturer: Frank Furedi, sociologist, commentator and author of numerous books, including most recently Populism and the European Culture Wars

Lectures 1
People, nations, and borders
Lecturer: Angus Kennedy, author, Being Cultured: in defence of discrimination and Borders: the foundation of freedom and security (forthcoming 2019)
The Transformation of the Concept of Popular Sovereignty in Early-Modern Europe
Lecturer: Rachel Hammersley, senior lecturer, intellectual history, Newcastle University; author, The English Republican Tradition and Eighteenth-Century France; editor, Revolutionary Moments: reading revolutionary texts
Popular sovereignty lies at the heart of our modern understanding of democracy government. But what does this concept mean and how did it emerge? In the large states of Northern Europe, for much of the medieval period and beyond, the term ‘sovereign’ was conventionally used to describe a monarch. Yet, from the sixteenth century onwards, the concept was being transformed. This lecture will trace that transformation, taking in the influential distinction drawn by Jean Bodin between sovereignty and government and the practical and theoretical developments arising out of the English, American and French Revolutions.

Lectures 2
The ideal of the liberal nation-state
Lecturer: Jim Panton, head of upper sixth and head of politics, Magdalen College School; associate professor of philosophy, Open University


Colonialism and empire
Lecturer: James Heartfield, author of numerous books, including The European Union and the End of Politics and The Death of the Subject Explained
Must Rhodes Fall? The debate over colonialism seems even more contested today than it was when European powers had colonies all over the world. The protests over the statues of Cecil Rhodes in Cape Town and Oxford University, and other monuments to colonial or slave era public figures have all underscored a growing unease about Britain’s colonial past. The intellectual programme of ‘decolonising the curriculum’ at SOAS and other universities has been met with positive acquiescence from college authorities. Historical interest in the colonial era is strong, encouraging a lot of good research in specific studies; at the same time the intellectual framework in which Empire and the colonies are understood suffers from a moralistic and near ahistorical approach as the backlash to Professor Nigel Biggar’s ‘Ethics and Empire’ project at Oxford University has demonstrated. How can we understand the historical debate today, and what are its practical consequences for the present?

Plenary 2
The contradictions of the nation-state
Lecturer: Tim Black, editor, the spiked review; columnist, spiked


Lectures 3
Globalism and neo-liberalism
Lecturer: Phil Mullan, author, Creative destruction: how to start an economic renaissance
Globalists see themselves as the peacekeepers through their advocacy of the values of liberalism, free trade, democracy and internationalism. Yet the actions of the institutions over which they preside seem to bring the opposite. They generate division and conflict both within nations and also between them. So we have heightened polarisation within Brexit Britain, as well as within other leading European countries. Within the European Union, tensions have escalated both between north and south, and between west and east. And despite the claimed Macron-Trump bromance, trans-Atlantic conflicts are mounting too. Is all this an inevitable outcome of the globalist perspective that denies the effectiveness of national state policies? Is there a solution to the widely held ‘global trilemma’, suggested by the writer Dani Rodrik? This says that economic globalisation, democracy and national sovereignty are mutually incompatible: we can combine any two of the three, but never have all three simultaneously and in full.


Environmentalism and democracy
Lecturer: Josie Appleton, convenor, Manifesto Club; author, Officious: Rise of the busybody state

Plenary 3
Democracy: a history of an idea
Lecturer: Paul Cartledge, A.G. Leventis Senior Research Fellow, Clare College; A.G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture Emeritus; author, Democracy: a life

Sunday shorts
Choice of three short lectures, including:
On Habermas
Lecturer: Patrik Schumacher

Plenary 4
A liberal defence of popular sovereignty
Lecturer: Frank Furedi, sociologist, commentator and author of numerous books, including most recently Populism and the European Culture Wars


Ehrenberg, V., From Solon to Socrates
Machiavelli, N., The Discourses
Rousseau, J.-J., The Social Contract
Kant, I., Toward Perpetual Peace
Lenin, V.I., The Right of Nations to Self-Determination
Schmitt, C., The Concept of the Political
Anderson, B., Imagined Communities
Hobsbawm, E, Nations and Nationalism
Bell, D., The Cult of the Nation in France
Habermas, J., The Lure of Technocracy
Krastev, I., After Europe
Goodhart, D., The Road to Somewhere
Skinner, Q. &  Bourke, R. (eds.), Popular Sovereignty in Historical Perspective
Heartfield, J., The British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society
Furedi, F., Populism and the European Culture Wars
Beck, U., The Metamorphosis of the World
Zizek, S., Against the Double Blackmail: refugees, terror and other troubles with the neighbours
Hirsh, A., Brit-ish