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Our Mission


What is an enlightenment coffeehouse and how did they transform our world? Dr Matthew Green visits the RSA to take us back to  the 17th and 18th centuries when the coffeehouses were very different from todays crop of branded cafes.

The RSA itself was established in an enlightenment coffeehouse in 1754 by a group of people who came together with a shared vision for a better tomorrow. We believe the creation of a 21st century enlightenment coffeehouse will strengthen, empower and mobilise new networks of people to work together to tackle today's most pressing social challenges.

If you share our vision then please consider supporting the coffeehouse.   

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How will the RSA coffeehouse deliver a 21st century enlightenment?


The enlightenment coffeehouses were shaped by those who frequented them and the RSA coffeehouse will be no different. Almost 4,000 Fellows have engaged with the question of how the new coffeehouse can contribute to the RSA's mission of a 21st century enlightenment.

We believe that the majority of the 135 proposals submitted are worthy of being tested and plan to do so once the coffeehouse launches, however following a very close vote by Fellows the following five proposals will be ready for the coffeehouse launch in July 2018. 

Many Fellows have commented on the proposals to help develop the ideas further, in particular finding creative ways to connect the coffeehouse to the RSA's global networks. Clicking on an idea will take you through to an ideas management platform called Wazoku (note that use of the platform was donated by a Fellow and it does require a seprate login to the credentials you use for myRSA). 

Fellows voted to name the new coffeehouse Rawthmell's. This pays tribute to the original enlightenment coffeehouse in which the RSA was founded - Rawthmell's of Henrietta Street, Covent Garden. 

Collaborative Walls

Collaborative Walls

If a space is to be productive and encourage great collaboration then it needs to be open, inviting and inclusive. Collaborative walls does just that, allowing groups of people to work together on a large space. Having an entire wall available to write on removes the usual limits of traditional whiteboards where you cannot stretch your ideas as far as you want.

Partner with student societies

Partner with student societies

The Coffeehouse will provide an informal space for joint events (such as a salon) and discussions organised with a broad range of universities and their student societies. The RSA, it's Fellows, and the students, will all benefit immensely from the mix of perspectives.

Conversation Zone

Conversation Zone

To tackle the challenges of the 21st century there must be an exchange of ideas, but how do you know who wants to talk? Creating a zone where, should you choose to sit, you are inviting and giving permission to converse with others will make the coffeehouse a hub for stimulating discussion.

A Global Network: coffeehouses for all

A Global Network: coffeehouses for all

The RSA's vision is to create an engine room for a global community - this idea will make that a reality through the creation of satellite coffeehouses around the world. These would provide wide tangible links to the RSA and allow members who can't regularly get to RSA House to take part.

Fuel for thought

Fuel for thought

A dedicated 'idea space' where Fellows working on projects that enrich society can put up ideas to be fired up by contributions from other Fellows. Once Fellows are in the 'idea space' they can add their fuel and follow-up contacts to ensure each idea benefits from the wealth of knowledge and expertise in the network.

Ever since I discovered the RSA, it has been a place where I have met people, shared ideas and made things happen. This was the “home” for many concepts I co-developed. It opened doors to other opportunities because of the diversity of people, know-how, views, ideas… an invisible curated place! This is where you might just overhear one word of another person’s conversation and then suddenly, you’re through the “rabbits’ hole” and you enter “Wonderland” where the world changes and great questions are asked.

Maria Neves FRSA

Entrepreneurial idea-driven design strategist with a passion for design, innovation & social change