Civilisation under siege? The Academy 2024


The problems of the current moment are frequently described as ‘civilisational’ in their importance. Some say the culture wars pose a threat to the building blocks of civilisation: family life, privacy, or civility. Others would argue the real threat to civilisation is from ‘global challenges’ like climate change or AI. In the wars in Gaza or Ukraine, some repose arguments about the ‘clash of civilisations’. But in many quarters, especially in academia, the very idea of civilisation is dismissed or treated as a dirty word. Wherever we look, there is a sense that civilisation itself is under siege from hostile forces.

But what is civilisation? How does it emerge? At the origin of the Western tradition, the distinction between civilised and barbarian formed a crucial part of our self-understanding. For the Greeks or Romans, certain customs and ways of life marked them off from their “barbarian” neighbours. Throughout the West, the idea of civilisation formed a key part of the motor of history, from the Renaissance through to the Enlightenment and beyond. But now such distinctions are viewed with suspicion – just one more piece of baggage associated with colonialism.

As ever, The Academy will bring together people from all walks of life who are committed to rethinking some of the basic building blocks of political life. Join us as we look at what civilisation is, whether it is under threat, why it might be worth defending.

Shakespeare: Civilisation on stage
Andrew Doyle, writer, broadcaster, comedian

From Decolonisation to Islamism: Civilisation under siege?
Professor Frank Furedi, executive director, MCC Brussels

The Clash of Civilisations Revisited
Tim Black, books and essays editor, Spiked

What is Western Civilisation – and how should we defend it?
Bruno Waterfield, Brussels Correspondent, The Times

The Rise and Fall of Industrial Civilisation
Dr Ashley Frawley, columnist, Compact Magazine; sociologist, University of Kent; research fellow, MCC Brussels
Dr Nikos Sotirakopoulos, visiting fellow, Ayn Rand Institute

Can we save Western Civilisation? How?
Simon Haines, founding director, Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation

Is there a threat to Western Civilisation?
Lecturer TBC

Culture under siege: High art and iconoclasm
Tiffany Jenkins, author, Strangers & Intimates: The Rise and Fall of Private Life

  • The Civilizing Process, Norbert Elias
  • Clash of Civilisations, Samuel Huntington
  • Inventing Western Civilization, Thomas C. Patterson
  • Civilisation and its Discontents, Sigmund Freud
  • Gibbon: Making History, Roy Porter
  • Education’s End: Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given Up on the Meaning of Life, Anthony T. Kronman
  • Civilisation, Kenneth Clark – watch the whole series via YouTube or BBC iPlayer
  • Suggested supplement:
    The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Vol. 1), Edward Gibbon

Articles and essays

You can choose to buy day tickets without accommodation, or tickets that include accommodation at Wyboston Lakes Resort. Tickets are subsidised to make the event available to as many people as possible.

Day tickets only include lunch

Tickets with accommodation include:
 Brilliant food: a quality breakfast (including continental and cooked options), an extensive lunch, and a three-course dinner
 Excellent facilities: access to the Wyboston Lakes gym, swimming pool and other amenities during your stay
 Social opportunities: staying the night means you’ll experience the full, collegiate atmosphere of the event and get the chance to carry on discussions over dinner and in the bar.

Have a friend who is also interested? You can save up to £50 each by doubling up with a friend. Select ‘double occupancy’ and let us know you’d like a twin room.

All tickets can bought via Eventbrite.

 One night, single occupancy £255

 One night, double occupancy £420

 Two nights, single occupancy £360

 Two nights, double occupancy £570

 Saturday and Sunday £135 

 Saturday only £70

 Sunday only £70

If you would like to pay a concession rate (for full time students, senior citizens and unwaged), or pay in instalments, please email for further details.