University in One Day 2016

The aim of this event is to open 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’. 

University in One Day will take place at The Telegraph Festival of Education and there are only 120 tickets available. Tickets will be allocated on a first come first served basis and cost £15 + VAT per person. Due to the limited number of tickets for this event group booking discounts are not available. Tickets to University in One Day include access to the Festival and lunch on Thursday 23 June.


Originally inspired by the residential summer school, The Academy, this second University in One Day (U1D) is aimed at 16- to 19-year-olds who are interested in (but perhaps less familiar with) philosophy and the history of ideas, employing a broader approach to knowledge beyond the curriculum and across disciplines. Many extra-curricular activities are either skills/employability based or aimed at exam crammers, whereas U1D aims to celebrate knowledge for its own sake, and whet attendees’ appetite to read more widely than their chosen academic course requires.


10.30 – 11.30
opening plenary session – lecture followed by Q&A, chaired by Professor Alan Hudson
What is The Enlightenment and why the fuss?
Professor AC Grayling
The introductory lecture establishes the nature of the European Enlightenment and elucidates the debate about its historical and contemporary significance.

11.30 – 11.45

11.45 – 12.45
Three snapshots or case studies, chaired by Claire Fox

Newton and the scientific method: measuring the universe
Gareth Sturdy

Milton’s Areopagitica: the state, civil liberties and tolerance
Dr Shirley Dent

From coffee house to salon: the birth of the reading public
Jacob Reynolds

The lectures, each around 12 minutes, will run consecutively to be followed by small group discussion. Each attendee will select one short lecture to discuss with the speaker.


plenary lecture followed by Q&A, chaired by Dr. Joanna Williams
The American Revolution: “We hold these truths to be self-evident”
Dr. James Panton
Through a discussion of the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, the day’s second plenary seeks to investigate the political forms of Enlightenment thinking such as contract theory, the separation of church and state, and the integrity of the individual

balloon debate, chaired by David Bowden
Who contributed most to the Enlightenment?
A group of speakers each make a brief case for their chosen writers and works – then the audience votes who should ‘leave the balloon’ before the remaining contenders make a final push for the audience’s support in advance of a final vote.

Diderot and the Encyclopédie
Professor Alan Hudson

Mary Wollstonecraft: A Vindication of the Rights of Women
Dr Joanna Williams

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus
Dr Graham Barnfield

Michael Faraday’s 1818 essay, ‘On Argument’
Dr Vanessa Pupavac

Percy Bysshe Shelley’s The Necessity of Atheism
Dr Sean Lang

Poet and artist William Blake’s Romanticism
Dr Shirley Dent

plenary lecture followed by Q&A, chaired by Geoff Kidder
The Birth of Conservatism and Radical Liberalism: The Great Debate, Paine vs Burke
Professor Alan Hudson

How Edmund Burke’s and Thomas Paine’s differing views, originating in the debates over the French Revolution and which led to the birth of right and left, continue to shape our current political discourse.

Concluding panel discussion chaired by Claire Fox. Speakers include Sue Cowley, Dr Sean Lang, Martin Robinson, Laura McInerney and Professor Michael Young.
What is education for? Lessons from the Enlightenment
Picking up themes as varied as John Locke’s tabula rasa to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Émile, the panelists will look at the legacy of the Enlightenment on today’s educational theories, whether in the guise of child-centred learning, experiential learning, emotional literacy, progressives vs traditionalists, and evidence-based pedagogy.


Dr Graham Barnfield
senior lecturer in journalism, University of East London

David Bowden
associate director, Academy of Ideas

Sue Cowley
teacher; preschool committee chair; author, Getting the Buggers to Behave and How to Survive your First Year in Teaching

Dr Shirley Dent
author, Radical Blake; communications specialist (currently working with the British Veterinary Association media team); editor,

Claire Fox
director, Academy of Ideas; panellist, BBC Radio 4’s The Moral Maze

Professor AC Grayling
Master of the New College of the Humanities; fellow of St Anne’s College, Oxford. Writer and editor of over 30 books on philosophy and other subjects; among his most recent are Ideas That Matter, Liberty in the Age of Terror, To Set Prometheus Free and, most recently, The Age of Genius.

Professor Alan Hudson
director of leadership and public policy programmes, University of Oxford; visiting professor, Shanghai Jiaotong University

Geoff Kidder
director, membership and events, Academy of Ideas; convenor, IoI Book Club

Dr Sean Lang
senior lecturer in history, Anglia Ruskin University; director, Better History Forum

Laura McInerney
editor, Schools Week; columnist, Guardian

Dr James Panton
head of politics at Magdalen College School, Oxford; associate lecturer in philosophy and politics, Open University

Vanessa Pupavac
senior lecturer, School of Politics and International Relations, University of Nottingham; author, Language Rights: from free speech to linguistic governance; researcher, Shakespeare and world politics

Jacob Reynolds
consultant, SHM Productions; BPhil in Philosophy, St Cross College, Oxford; convenor, Academy in One Day at Battle of Ideas festival

Martin Robinson
educational consultant and teacher; author, Trivium 21c: preparing young people for the future with lessons from the past; writer, Times Educational Supplement

Gareth Sturdy
project lead, The Physics Factory; teacher, East London Science School

Dr Joanna Williams
author, Consuming Higher Education, Why Learning Can’t Be Bought and Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity: Confronting the Fear of Knowledge

Michael Young
emeritus professor of education, School of Lifelong Learning, Institute of Education, University College London; co-author (with Johan Muller), Curriculum and the Specialization of Knowledge