About Ideas Matter

Educate · Debate · Renewal

Ideas Matter seeks to renew social life through debate, discussion and education about the big ideas that have inspired humanity throughout history. Ideas Matter believes that the basis of good citizenship and education – our charitable purposes – is engagement with the ideas that have been articulated, challenged and discussed in major events throughout history. We bring ideas to life through a range of public debates, events, discussions and summer schools for a variety of ages: in person, in print, and online. We involve major thinkers, academics, and experts to challenge, inspire and contribute to the renewal of social life.

Our main projects are:

Debating Matters presents schools with an innovative and engaging approach to debating, emphasising substance over style, and the importance of taking ideas seriously. More…

Debating Matters 2018 Salford Championships

Living Freedom is our annual residential school that allows 18- to 30-year-olds to explore ideas around the past, present and future of freedom by engaging with ‘the best that is known and thought’ and the provocations of contemporary intellectuals. Get an overview of Living Freedom here and find out about Living Freedom 2022, which ran from 30 June to 2 July in central London, here.

The Academy is our annual summer school for anyone interested in studying ideas. Organised each year around a specially chosen theme, lectures on philosophy, history and culture demonstrate the value of scholarship in itself over instrumental approaches to knowledge. More…

Inspired by The Academy, University in One Day opens up the spirit of liberal humanist self-education to those on the cusp of university – whether in sixth form, FE college or on a gap year – to give them a taste of ‘university as it should be’. More…


We live in a world where old certainties have been called into question. It feels like we, as a society, are often poorly prepared to debate and interrogate the important ideas and events of our time. To get to grips with changes in politics, history, culture, art and science, we need to be able to openly discuss and debate them.

But, as many note, there are often restrictions on free speech and open debate. As well as explicit restrictions, there is a tendency to hold back on openly stating beliefs and views, as well as the existence of ‘echo chambers’, social media pile-ons and a ‘toxic’ atmosphere in political discussions. These exemplify the difficulties in having productive, respectful but forthright discussions about ideas.

Today, we need to encourage people to think seriously about the world of ideas. To do this, we need a greater appreciation of the historical context that informs today’s ideas and circumstances, the literature that provided them a staging ground, the philosophers that thought them through, and the political agents who put them into action.

We need to engage with ideas in all their richness and complexity, not because they will lead to some useful academic qualification or justify a particular, pre-determined policy, but rather as current and future citizens who take on the responsibility of making the world a better place.