The Academy

About The Academy

The Academy was founded by the Academy of Ideas and has been running since 2011. The running of the event has now been taken over by the Battle of Ideas.

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, incessant demands to show value for money, etc.

The Academy is a residential weekend in the third week of July at Wyboston Lakes Conference Centre, Bedfordshire. It is something of an intellectual summer holiday away from it all. Attendees can read as much or as little as they like from reading lists given out in advance and the format of the weekend is three to four lectures a day covering philosophy, history and culture. The only qualification required is a desire to learn, discuss and engage with big ideas.

Previous lecturers include: Professor Frank Furedi, Professor Roger Scruton, Professor Timothy O’Hagan, Dr Tiffany Jenkins, Professor Angela Hobbs, Kenan Malik, Professor John Haldane, Dr Rachel Hammersley, Professor Neville Morley, Professor Johnjoe McFadden, Professor Ken Gemes, Dr Joel Rasmussen, Ivan Hewett, Professor Barry Ife, Michael Caines, and Professor David Jones.

Each Academy has a theme linking the lectures together. In 2018, for example, the theme was Popular sovereignty – from Athens to Brexit and beyond. The lectures are up to 45 minutes with the balance of the session time of 90 minutes reserved for questions and points from the floor. The audience is of all ages and levels of education. What attendees have in common is that they are all bright and serious and are not afraid of discussing and exploring ideas and sharing their thoughts about what they have read. Some two hundred people attend on average each year.

More information on each year is available from the dropdown menu above.

In 2020 and 2021, The Academy moved online due to Covid restrictions. Find out more here.


Recordings of sessions from previous years are available to provide a flavour of the event:

2014 (on morality)

2013 (on man and nature)

2012 (on free will and determinism)


The central purpose of The Academy is to spend a 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 ideas, of course). The aim is simply to cultivate ourselves with good books, good guides and in good company.

For more information about The Academy, contact Geoff Kidder