Because of the coronavirus pandemic, all public lectures have been cancelled for the time being. Fortunately, there are many thousands of archived talks that can be viewed or listened to online.
Gresham College – Free education for all
Gresham College was founded in 1597 under the will of Sir Thomas Gresham, and has been providing free lectures within the City of London for over 400 years. It was the first ‘university’ in England besides Oxford and Cambridge, making it London’s oldest higher education institution still in existence today. It does not enrol any students, and awards no degrees.
Sir Thomas Gresham (1519 – 1579) was a powerful English merchant and banker, active under the reigns of Kings Henry VIII and Edward VI, and Queens Mary I and Elizabeth I.
He had an exchange building erected in the centre of the City, at his own expense, inspired by the bourse he had seen in Antwerp. When it was opened by Queen Elizabeth I on 23rd January 1571, she was so impressed that she awarded it the title ‘Royal Exchange’. The present building, which was built to a design by William Tite, adheres to the original layout of a four-sided structure surrounding a central courtyard.
Among the early professors of Gresham College were Sir Christopher Wren, who lectured on Astronomy, and Robert Hooke, who was Professor of Geometry. A group of scientists called the Gresham College Group were instrumental in the foundation of the Royal Society.
The College has been recording its lectures since the 1980s and there are now over 2,000 lectures freely available online in text, audio or video formats.
The Royal Society of Arts – World-changing ideas at your fingertips
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The Royal Society of Arts (RSA) is a British organisation committed to finding practical solutions to social challenges. Founded in 1754, it was granted a Royal Charter in 1847.
Its full name is ‘The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce’.
Notable past fellows include William Hogarth, Benjamin Franklin, Adam Smith, Charles Dickens, Karl Marx, Nelson Mandela, David Attenborough, Stephen Hawking, and Tim Berners-Lee. Today, the RSA has Fellows elected from 80 countries worldwide.
The RSA’s public events programme is a key part of its charitable mission to make world-changing ideas and debate freely available to all. Over 100 keynote lectures, panel discussions, debates, and documentary screenings are held each year, many of which are live-streamed over the web. Events are free and open to the public, and mp3 audio files and videos are made available on the RSA’s website and YouTube page.
LSE Public Lectures and Events
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The public events podcast series from the London School of Economics and Political Science features more than two hundred events every year where some of the world’s leading thinkers can be heard. The podcast series is a platform for thought, ideas and lively debate where you can hear from presidents, prime minsters, international business leaders, policy makers and leading academics from all over the world.
TED.COM – Technology, Entertainment and Design
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TED.COM is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organisation devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks. It began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged.
Today it covers almost all topics — in more than 110 languages. Over 3,300 talks, lasting 18 minutes or less, can be accessed online, covering technology, entertainment, design, business, science, global issues, and more.
BBC In Our Time archive
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In Our Time is a live BBC radio discussion series exploring a wide variety of historical topics, presented by Melvyn Bragg, since 15 October 1998. It is one of BBC Radio 4’s most successful discussion programmes. Each programme covers a specific historical, philosophical, religious, cultural or scientific topic.
The programme is normally broadcast live and unedited on Thursday mornings at 9 a.m., lasting around 42 minutes, and is then available online. Over 800 episodes have been aired and the series attracts a weekly audience exceeding two million listeners. Since 2011, the entire archive has been available to download as individual podcasts.