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Delivering the New Enlightenment


The RSA’s ‘new enlightenment’ mission seeks to combine thought leadership, social engagement and innovative forms of collaboration.

We have some way to go still until we are delivering on that mission. In particular the activities and support on offer to Fellows outside London too often falls short. We are investing significant resources in addressing this failing and our best regions and local organisations are working hard to transform the face of the RSA outside London.

But we do have days here at John Adams Street that offer a window into the future. Yesterday was one of those days

At lunchtime over 200 people attended a fascinating talk by Nudge exponent Richard Thaler, a speech that will soon be available on RSA Vision. Thaler's ideas are having a big impact in policy making circles, being quoted in a recent speech by David Cameron. And they are very relevant to the RSA's big idea of ‘closing the social aspiration gap’.

In the evening we had an excellent event to launch our new Tomorrow's Investor project. David Pitt Watson, who is leading on the project and is Chair of Hermes Equity Ownership spoke and there were powerful responses from Paul Myners, Chair of the Personal Accounts Delivery Authority, Penny Shepherd, Chief Exec of the UK Social Investment Forum and Jasmine Birtles the finance journalist and author.

There followed an excellent debate about how better to inform and empower the two thirds of us who hold shares directly or indirectly. On Saturday we will be holding a citizens jury to examine these questions with a group of ‘ordinary’ small investors.

Last night also saw a really lively network event jointly organised between RSA and Teach First. The event came up with some good ideas for initiatives, there were generous offers of support for these initiatives and some of Teach First Fellows alumni asked to join the Fellowship.

I hope that by this time next year networks events of this kind are happening regularly in every part of the country and that they are baring fruit in new initiatives and real social impact for the RSA. The RSA nationally is developing an ever higher and stronger brand the challenge now is to make this the case wherever we have a presence.

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