The UK based Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce is, as they describe it, an organisation committed to finding innovative practical solutions to today’s social challenges. Through its ideas, research and 27,000-strong Fellowship, it seeks to understand and enhance human capability in order to close the gap between today’s reality and people’s hopes for a better world.
The organization was founded in a coffee shop in Covent Garden in 1754(!), so it must have seen some fundamental socio-economic changes over time. The RSA now has a new strapline: 21st century enlightenment. Not only a tribute to the 18th century founders and their pioneering spirit, but also astatement about the role the RSA can wants to play today.
At the heart of the RSA's contemporary mission and public debates about the future prospects for the human race is the question ‘can we go on like this?’ Will the ideas and values which transformed our world in the last two centuries be sufficient to find solutions to the challenges we now face? Obviously, the answer is no. As we probably all, at least I do, agree.
Listen and have a look at the speech on enlightenment by the RCA' director Matthew Taylor. Taylor, a former Chief Adviser on Political Strategy to the UK's Prime Minister Tony Blair. Some nice things in there...