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      From the Director

With the UK media currently caught up in the self-absorbed circus that is the Leveson Inquiry, and political debate otherwise dominated by the phoney war over bankers’ bonuses, there is an urgent need for more substantial and forward-looking debate about the serious issues we face as a society. With that in mind, we are currently programming this year’s Battle of Ideas festival, which will be in London in the autumn, as well as preparing for a different kind of intellectual engagement at this year’s three-day residential Academy in July (see below).

Meanwhile this month, on Tuesday 7 February, the Institute of Ideas Debating Matters competition is organising a series of global development debates in partnership with Unilever in London, and on Friday 24 February, we have a timely debate in Athens on prospects for democracy amid the Eurozone crisis (see below for both).

If you are not already an associate, please do join the Institute of Ideas Apart from the benefits for associates, we really do need your financial, intellectual and moral support to continue doing what we do.

Claire Fox

This month
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Beware of Greeks bearing votes? Technocracy and democracy in the EU
7pm, Friday 24 February @ Hellenic American Union, Massalias 22, 10680, Athens, Greece

When George Papandreou suggested last year that the latest bailout package for Greece and its associated austerity measures be put to a referendum, the angry response from France was to label the proposal 'irrational and dangerous', Germany thought it 'irritating', the Italians 'negative'. The very idea of letting the Greek people decide what would be best for them appeared anathema to the troika of EU, IMF and ECB officials. Are we living in times when democracy is seen as a distraction and, even worse, a dangerous deviation from what the Eurozone really needs? A solution that only panels of experts can determine for us?

Antigone Lyberaki, Professor of Economics, Panteion University
Brendan O’Neill, editor, spiked
Nick Sotirakopoulos, PhD student, University of Kent
Nikos Raptis, author and social commentator
Zoe Vrontisi, National Council, Ecologist Greens

Free and unticketed. The discussion will be in English. See website for more.


The Academy 2012
Saturday 21 - Monday 23 July 2012 @ Wyboston Lakes, Bedfordshire

The second Institute of Ideas Academy in July this year will explore one of the key questions: the relationship between freedom and necessity, free will and determinism, subjectivity and objectivity, existence and essence. Lectures over the course of the three days will examine how these ideas have been represented in history, philosophy, literature and the classics. Plenary lectures will range from the paradox of Luther's defence of individual conscience and his denial of free will given that man is essentially a sinner, to Sartre's belief that man is essentially neither good nor evil but by virtue of his very existence forced to choose how he will be. Lecturers include: Frank Furedi on Luther and Roger Scruton on Kant.  Readings lists are available to IoI Associates attending to focus preparation and allow people to get the most out of The Academy.

This year there will be an Academy Scholarship Programme which will allow 30 fulltime students between the ages of 18 and 23 to attend The Academy for only £60. Details of how to apply will be released at the end of February with an application deadline of 1 May.

See the Academy web page for a provisional programme and booking information. This event is for IoI members only. To join, or for more information on how to attend, please contact geoffkidder@instituteofideas.com.

NB. Places can be booked at the early-bird rate till Monday 5 March









      IoI FORUMS
The next meeting is to be announced. Contact Jane Sandeman at parents@instituteofideas.com.
On Monday 6 February, Professor Michael Young, author of the highly-regarded Bringing Knowledge Back In, will offer a sociological perspective on the 'powerful knowledge' cited in the recent Framework for the National Curriculum review document and the UK Coalition's proposed return to subject-based education. Contact Mark Taylor on education@instituteofideas.com.
On Tuesday 28 February, David Bowden will introduce The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. Contact: geoffkidder@instituteofideas.com
On Tuesday 28 February, Angus Kennedy will introduce a discussion of Arthur Okun's 'Equality and Efficiency: the big tradeoff'. See the forum web page for details. Contact: emergingeconomies@instituteofideas.com.
Next meeting to be announced. For details contact Tiffany Jenkins.

The Salons advertised below are inspired by the Institute of Ideas but run independently by groups and individuals across the country.

Next meeting to be announced. For details contact Sean Bell.
On Monday 20 February, David Lewin and James Heartfield will introduce a discussion on how the role of technology in improving our lives is discussed by society. More information at: manchestersalon.org.uk
On Wednesday 15 February, Jennie Bristow and Professor Nick Frost ask, Can Cameron Fix ‘Troubled Families?. www.leedssalon.org.uk
On Wednesday 8 February, Alastair Donald and Nikki Pugh will discuss The Sanitised City: How public is public space?. For more information, see www.birminghamsalon.org
The next meeting will be on Wednesday 22 February in Derby, when Richard Harris will explore the question, 'Why Can't British Kids Do Maths?' Contact Dennis Hayes on d.hayes@derby.ac.uk or see www.eastmidlandssalon.org.
Next meeting to be announced. For details, contact Luke Gittos.
Next meeting to be announced. Further details at: croydonsalon.com
Next meeting to be announced. Oxford Salon in Oxford, 7-9 pm - follow link for details.


Thursday 2 February: Dolan Cummings will chair a panel discussion on ‘What does freedom mean to you?’ to complement an installation by artist Sarah Strang at Union Chapel in Islington, London, exploring the meaning of homelessness today. Panellists include Josie Appleton, Piers Benn and Alastair Murray. Free, 7pm.

Wednesday 29 February: Tiffany Jenkins will be speaking on the future of arts funding at an Arts & Business symposium, Growing, Not Going.



Claire Fox will be a panellist on the new series of BBC Radio 4’s Moral Maze, on Wednesdays 8, 15, 22 and 29 February.

A recording of the Education Forum’s discussion last month on the expert panel document, ‘A framework for the national curriculum’, is now available as an audio podcast.




Less really means less: Why curbs on executive pay aren't good for any of us, by Para Mullan, Independent, 1 February 2012

The roots of the riots: found in translation, by David Bowden, spiked, 26 January 2012

How about butting out of family life?, by Sally Millard, spiked, 25 January 2012

Hands off our packs!, Claire Fox is among those supporting a Forest campaign against compulsory ‘plain packaging’ for cigarettes

    January's highlights on CW included Matt Trueman on the London International Mime Festival and other current London theatre.  

Good luck to all Regional Finalists!

Students, teachers and judges will be busily preparing for a wide range of topical debates across February, now that Debating Matters has announced eight Regional Final dates and the big issues up for discussion.

The Debating Matters team have spent much of January preparing eight new topic guides. These new motions draw on some of the big contemporary debates currently taking place in the arts, politics and science, ranging from the Olympics to organ donation, to social media and protest.  Debate motions are:

Offensive Language: “There should be no legal curbs on ‘offensive’ language”
Biofuels: "Governments should stop supporting the biofuels industry"
Eurozone crisis: "The UK should have a referendum on membership of the European Union"
Performance-Enhancing Drugs: "Allowing the use of enhancement drugs will not undermine the spirit of sport"
London Olympics: "The greatest show on Earth is worth it"
Organ Donation: "We should introduce a system of presumed consent for organ donation"
Sustainability: "Population growth and rising living standards are unsustainable"
Clicktivism: "Social media are rejuvenating political protest"

The Debating Matters team are also delighted to announce seven dates for our upcoming Regional Finals, which will see 48 schools compete for their region's place at the National Finals in July. Having each won their prospective qualifying rounds, teams will now have to take their arguments up a notch as they are put under tough intellectual pressure by some prestigious judges at a range of top-class venues across the country.  The dates and venues for the Regional Finals are:

South East Region: Salomons, Canterbury Christ Church University, 6 March 2012
London & South Region: Free Word Centre, 9 March 2012
North East Region: University of Newcastle, 13 March 2012
Scotland: University of Edinburgh, 19 March 2012
West & South Wales Region: University of Bristol, 20 April 2012
Central Region: University of Leicester, 24 April 2012
East Region: Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute, 24 April 2012

If you are interested in attending any of the Regional Finals as an audience member, please contact Justine Brian.

Before the start of what is set to be an exciting period of debates, the Institute of Ideas Debating Matters Competition would like to take this opportunity to thank our primary funder the Wellcome Trust and our sponsors, who of course make this possible; thanks also to the Economic and Social Research Council, the Medical Research Council, the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and Statoil. Thanks also to our donor champion Sanofi Aventis and all our venue partners above.

Institute of Ideas & Unilever Debating Matters Global Development Debates

We are delighted to be starting the year with a one-off day of debates organised in partnership with the global consumer goods company Unilever on 7 February 2012, at Unilever House in London. This exciting programme allows six Debating Matters Schools, knocked out of the competition at the Qualifying Round stage, to participate in a wide-ranging programme of debates: including the impact of supermarkets on the community; biofuels; and the role of social media in political protest. We are very pleased to be working on the project with Unilever. The final debate on the motion "Population growth and rising living standards are unsustainable", will be open to guests, and will run from 6pm to 7.45pm. If you are interested in joining us, please email Justine Brian.






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