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The RSA hosts one of the world’s leading public events programmes, delivering over 100 lectures, talks, screenings and debates a year. These events provide a platform for our most exciting public thinkers, and encourage intelligent exploration of today’s most urgent social challenges. Our public programme welcomes speakers from across the world and across disciplines – all united by a belief in the power of ideas to inspire and motivate social change.
 
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show series
 
Farming is the single greatest cause of environmental destruction: we have plundered our land and pillaged our rivers and oceans to feed ourselves, yet millions still go hungry and our food system is faltering. We need a food revolution – and the answer, says author and environmental activist George Monbiot, lies beneath our feet. Exploring incredi…
 
Across Britain, people of all generations are being priced out of homeownership, shut out of social housing options, and required to find a home in the private rental sector. Recent decades have seen this sector reshaped by Right to Buy, Buy to Let, divestment in social housing and deregulation, creating a situation where rents are rising faster th…
 
Youth populations across Sub-Saharan African countries are growing at rapid rates compared to other countries globally. With more than 42% of the population under 14 years old, Nigeria is one of the youngest countries in the world. This sharp population shift is ushering in a thriving culture of innovation and disrupting societal norms as more youn…
 
Language is powerful, and often political. With ‘free speech’ debates dominating the so-called culture wars, and hate speech finding new outlets online, we must consider the impact of how words are used, and understand how language both binds and frees us. How does language act as a frame of reference for what we treat as important? What does this …
 
We live in a world of tumultuous change, in which democracy is in retreat, geopolitical risks are multiplying, the climate crisis is accelerating and the pandemic continues to shape our world. Societies need to learn how to seize and shape new solutions. Yet, we come to these challenges with the historic patterns of gender disadvantage still marrin…
 
When news of every catastrophe – a war, an earthquake, a terrorist attack – can reach across the world in a matter of moments, we can hardly fathom the human impact. We wonder: in these worst of moments, how do people find the strength to come together, pick up the pieces, and begin to heal? Lucy Easthope has spent her life at the edges of disaster…
 
The debate around whether we should eat animals has historically been the domain of an ethically minded minority, but with the recent surge in vegetarianism and veganism, it is now posed every day on restaurant menus, on supermarket shelves and at the family dinner table. This dietary shift has re-awoken age-old questions, concerns and contradictio…
 
Today’s energy sector is grappling with an unprecedented price crisis whilst also looking out on an ambitious journey to deliver Net Zero by 2050. This period of recovery and transformation will have a huge impact on households, businesses, and industries, potentially requiring substantial financial investment and behaviour change from us all. With…
 
In September 2021, RSA Chief Executive Andy Haldane was appointed by the Prime Minister to define and develop the flagship national levelling up strategy – a decade-long moral, social and economic cross-government, cross-society programme to spread opportunity and prosperity to all parts of the UK. Kicking off a series of talks around the country, …
 
Join one of the most influential women in UK sport, leadership coach Michelle Moore and leading anti-racism activist and author Nova Reid as they celebrate and discuss Michelle’s debut leadership book, “Real Wins: Race, Leadership and How to Redefine Success”. Real Wins shows us how to face our fears, build resilience and find our own unique leader…
 
Shame is a powerful emotion and a potent social force. It can assert collective values, hold power to account, and uphold the social good – but shaming has also taken a dangerous new turn. Huge sectors of the economy are built to capitalise on our wishes to live up to certain ideals, targeting those – often the powerless and vulnerable – seen to be…
 
As our world has changed, the way we produce and wear clothes has changed with it. Industrialisation moved textile work out of everyday life and into factories, creating a complex, inscrutable mass clothing trade that moves faster than the planet can sustain. What has the changing story of clothes meant for the people who make and wear them, and fo…
 
What would it look like to put the same creativity and energy into involving people as Citizens? What would you do in this time, if you truly believed in yourself and those around you? In Citizens, Jon Alexander explores what citizenship means today and argues that now is the time to reclaim the language around citizenship while making visible stor…
 
Social media has unlocked a new land of opportunity where anyone has the potential to make a million using their smartphone and being an influencer is now the top career choice for early 20 somethings and children growing up today. However, influencer success is hard-won, and ambition, deceit and exploitation are often key tools in this digital rat…
 
The highest inflation rates in decades mean cost of living increases threaten to overwhelm those already in difficult financial situations. Young people will be hit hard: recent RSA work found that almost half of young people are financially precarious. How do these challenges impact people’s everyday lives, and what measures are needed to improve …
 
At this pivotal moment in the history of work, isn’t now the time to develop something better, something more meaningful and something more workable? Julia Hobsbawm, chair of the Demos Workshift Commission and author of 'The Nowhere Office', describes the biggest shift in working for 100 years by addressing six key shifts from time and place to net…
 
Digital technology is revolutionising economics; both the tools it uses, and what it seeks to measure, understand, and shape. Long-standing accusations levelled against economics – that it values the wrong things, ignores the real world, and misunderstands what drives people – have been given a new edge by events of recent years. How does economics…
 
The focus on sustainable design has led to a great deal of positive change in our shared built environment, but for two visionary systems change thinkers, it’s now time to embrace a radical, regenerative design approach for a truly flourishing future. Michael Pawlyn, founder of the innovative biomimicry architecture firm Exploration, has joined for…
 
The modern workplace can be tough to navigate. But women of colour in particular are hired, promoted, paid, and retained at lower rates than other groups. Many underrepresented women feel like they need to work twice as hard to get half the recognition. What needs to change to level the playing field? What can underrepresented women do for themselv…
 
Much like 2020’s, the events of 2021 have largely been dwarfed by the ongoing Covid crisis. The second year of the global pandemic challenged the globe with more overwhelming loss, restriction and separation. Glimmers of normal life appeared after heroic mass vaccination campaigns, but with 5.2 million deaths and another variant on the loose, it se…
 
‘Never let a good crisis go to waste’ was Churchill’s infamous wartime quip, and the early days of the pandemic seemed the ideal opportunity to pivot to a fairer way of life in Britain. Cherished systems were re-invented wholesale, underpaid frontline workers propped up the nation and big state intervention saved millions of lives – prime condition…
 
Regenerative Futures: redesigning the human impact on earth Dr Daniel Christian Wahl is awarded the 2021 RSA Bicentenary Medal in recognition of his outstanding contribution to regenerative design. In his Medal address, Dr Wahl will offer reflections on 20 years of research and professional practice exploring the role of design as a catalyst for th…
 
From vaccine misinformation to racist and misogynistic abuse, the scale of harmful content online is a cause of increasingly widespread public concern. Meanwhile, recent whistle-blower accounts from within Big Tech have shed new light on the nature of the algorithm design and business models that are driving the amplification of toxic content and t…
 
'Fashion has to reflect who you are' Pharrell Williams. Despite its fun reputation, the fashion industry isn't a trifling part of the climate change equation. The UN Environment programme estimates that it is responsible for 8-10% of global carbon emissions – more than international flights and maritime shipping combined. But it's not just a case o…
 
What would our cities look like if they were designed with mental wellbeing, equity, and restoration at their core? Many cities around the world are built on models that haven’t kept pace with growing urban populations and the imperative to halt damage to the climate – which means millions living high-cost, high-stress lives in polluted, overcrowde…
 
The pandemic exposed the risks and weaknesses of the market-driven global system like never before, revealing a critical lack of institutional preparation and failings of the basic apparatuses of state administration. It also revealed that states could exercise experimental policy and control over the economy when necessary: governments around the …
 
We know climate change is the big existential challenge of our time and must be matched by the scale of our global response. Some have expressed scepticism about the potential for COP26 to bring about meaningful change, but with public appetite for climate action reaching new heights, is now the time when people power and formal politics could conv…
 
Work allows us to pay the bills – but for lots of people, it’s become about more than that. Many of us derive a sense of purpose or identity from our work: is this a consequence of more people being able to choose work that’s meaningful to them, or simply of work consuming more of our lives than ever? And what if we don’t get meaning or purpose fro…
 
Now is the time to rethink our future and how we get there. Can we harness digital technology to tackle poverty and increase social mobility? Could reforming work help reverse the mental health crisis? And what could happen if we empower communities to imagine and shape their futures? We are facing big questions about the kind of society and econom…
 
The role of imagination for thriving and prosperous communities.  As we emerge from the pandemic there is a collective opportunity to rethink and to create bold, community-led practices that can steer us towards a better future. This is the time for imagining radical initiatives that match the size and complexity of the challenges we face. The gove…
 
As Chief Negotiator for the EU, Michel Barnier was at the very heart of the Brexit process over four turbulent years. He visits the RSA to reveal insights from one of the most complex sets of talks in modern political history, to share his perspective on the lessons learned on both sides of the negotiating table, and to look forward to a new chapte…
 
r versus g? Or a Debt Jubilee? David Graeber’s bestselling book “Debt: The First 5000 Years” revolutionised our understanding of the origins of money and the role of debt in human societies. But intellectual revolutions take time, and David’s sudden and untimely death left this revolution unfinished. David’s widow Nika Dubrovsky has established ‘Th…
 
How can we make progress together when faced with increasingly complex challenges? The major challenges of our time demand creative and collaborative solutions. But they’re not always easy to come by: we face increasing complexity and, often, decreasing control. We need to work with people across more divides. How can we move forward in ever less s…
 
How did the world become addicted to fossil fuels? How did we discover that electricity may be our saviour? Who first sounded the alarm bell for climate change, and how could we seemingly ignore all these papers from the 1960s or 1970s musing that “if” we didn’t do anything, climate change could worsen significantly after the year 2000? As we look …
 
What is fear costing you? Your career; connection with others; believing in yourself? Fear is part of all of our lives but left unchecked it can drive many negative emotions and hold us back from finding fulfilment. Fear of failure, inadequacy and rejection can make us jealous, self-critical or turn us into perfectionists. Cultures of fear in the w…
 
Where are the opportunities for young people navigating an era rife with challenges? Studies show that many of the social and economic consequences of the pandemic have hit younger people the hardest, in a time when many were already facing adversity. Declining living standards, heightened insecurity, and deepening social divisions are changing wha…
 
Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia within families and within communities drives thousands of young people into homelessness. In the US, studies show that LGBTQ+ youths make up 40% of the nation’s total homeless youth population, despite LGBTQ+ youth comprising merely 5% of the overall youth population. In the UK, it is estimated that one in four…
 
Rethinking Education III | Beyond the School Gates: the role of schools in the wellbeing of communities Throughout the pandemic, schools have played a central role in the wellbeing of local communities, especially in the most disadvantaged areas. School leaders have provided high quality and safe learning environments, reassurance for staff, parent…
 
Innovations are emerging worldwide to address the challenges of a rapidly changing future of work. The pandemic is likely to accelerate the pace of technological change and automation globally. To secure a future where good work is available to all, we will need new approaches to skills, training and lifelong learning, to economic security and to w…
 
As nation-states grapple with generation-defining issues from the Covid-19 pandemic to the climate crisis, what role does civil society play in addressing the issues of our time? For the first time since President Biden took office and the UK left the EU, the G7 countries will come together at the 2021 summit in England to discuss the pandemic, pro…
 
In ordinary times, our exam system ensures that a third of young people finish school without the qualifications they need to progress. Now, after two years of cancelled exams, public dismay at algorithmic blindness to the true nature of student achievement, and after millions of the most disadvantaged children have missed out on key learning miles…
 
The more we spend time with people unlike ourselves, doing things together, the more understanding, tolerant, and even friendly we become. And yet, increasingly, most of us spend less and less time with people who are different - as defined by age, race, or class, earning power or education. The pandemic may have forced us apart, but it also remind…
 
What if women’s untapped power to make change was harnessed to fight the climate crisis? Climate change affects us all globally – but it does not affect us all equally. Vast social and economic inequities mean we don’t all contribute to the climate crisis to the same degree; nor are its effects evenly distributed. Racialised women are the most like…
 
We need a solid base camp from which to map new routes forward for humanity. One that’s built on a shared understanding of how core human needs and motivations interact with social forces to shape and drive the dynamics of change. Imagine a theory that united perspectives from human psychology to anthropology, from the sociology of groups and organ…
 
Government policies in response to the Covid-19 pandemic have reignited the universal basic income (UBI) debate, showing us the vital lifeline that income support can provide. In the US, Congress has distributed nearly $850 billion through three rounds of stimulus checks. In the UK, the furlough scheme and self-employed income support schemes have …
 
If the way we give to those in need reflects on our values and virtue as a society, what do we see today? Charitable giving has grown in response to the huge areas of need that the Covid crisis has exposed and intensified, in the form of mutual aid groups, donations, and volunteering. How has this changed our communities, our public values, and the…
 
The speed with which Covid-19 vaccines have been developed represents a significant achievement for humanity and is providing hope for a way out of the pandemic, but the rollout so far has been unequal: high and middle-income countries are able to secure more vaccines than they need and vaccinate populations at speed, whilst low-income countries re…
 
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