How To Academy is an organisation for people who think big. From Nobel laureates to Pulitzer Prize winners, we invite the world’s most influential voices to London to share new ideas for changing ourselves, our communities, and the world.
George Saunders – Lessons in Writing and Life
What makes great stories work? What can they tell us about our world today? How can they make us better readers and how can we write them ourselves?
George Saunders is one of the undisputed masters of American letters; a novelist, storyteller and essayist whose wisdom and insight have been rewarded with the highest accolades in literature.
In a rare treat for authors and storytellers of all forms, he shares his insights from teaching some of the best young writers in America. Drawing on the works of Russian masters, he reminds us that the process of writing is as much a craft as it is a quality of openness and a willingness to see the world through new eyes.
Matthew d’Ancona – Why The Old Politics Is Useless and What We Can Do About It
Political journalist Matthew d'Ancona's issues a call to arms to challenge this age of political extremism, lazy populism and democratic torpor.
The old tools of political analysis are obsolete - they have rusted and are no longer fit for purpose. We've grown lazy, wedded to the assumption that, after ruptures such as Brexit, the pandemic, and the rise of the populist Right, things will eventually go 'back to normal'. Award-winning political writer Matthew d'Ancona joins us with an invitation to think afresh: to seek new ways of challenging political extremism, bombastic populism and democratic torpor on both Left and Right.
In this week's How To Academy Podcast, he will propose a new way of understanding our era and plots a way forward. With rigorous analysis, he argues that we need to understand the world in a new way, with a framework built from the three I's: Identity, Ignorance and Innovation.
Isabel Allende – The Soul of a Woman
Isabel Allende has been a feminist her whole life. From a young age she rebelled against male authority, after seeing her mother Panchita abandoned by her husband and left to provide for three small children. While growing up in Chile in her grandparents’ house, Isabel realised early on that the women in her family, from matriarch to housemaid, were at a disadvantage compared to the men, treated as subordinates with no voice.
As a young woman coming of age in the late 1960s, Isabel rode the first wave of feminism. While working at the newly launched feminist magazine, Paula, her journalism challenged the patriarchal mores imposed on women regarding sex, money, discriminatory laws, drugs, virginity, abortion, prostitution, alcoholism to name a few.
In this week's How To Academy podcast, Isabel shares stories from her life as a feminist with broadcaster Belle Donati.
Ian McEwan – A Life In Literature
The country’s most prolific and celebrated novelist reflects upon a life in literature.
Since his rise to literary acclaim almost forty years ago for the dazzlingly grotesque short stories that earned him the moniker “Ian Macabre”, to his present-day voyages into the uncharted territories of climate change and Artificial Intelligence, one thing has remained consistent across Ian McEwan’s astonishing oeuvre: the exacting precision with which he can simultaneously dissect both the mysteries of the human psyche and the tribulations of our age.
With a gift for creating scenes of heart-stopping anxiety, from the kidnapping that opens A Child in Time to Enduring Love’s iconic balloon ride gone wrong, drawing characters whose romantic longing and realistic flaws are recognisably our own, and exploring philosophical and moral ambiguities that speak to both to our time and to the great quandaries of life, Ian McEwan has proven himself time and again to be the foremost literary novelist of his generation.
Whether you’re an aspiring novelist seeking to learn the craft from a veritable master of the form, a lifelong reader of his seminal novels, or simply intrigued to hear from one of the most exciting cultural figures working in any field or discipline, this is an unmissable opportunity to look inside the imagination of an author of the first order.
Rowan Hooper – How to Spend a Trillion Dollars
If you had a trillion dollars and a year to spend it for the good of the world and the advancement of science, what would you do? It's an unimaginably large sum, yet it's only around one per cent of world GDP, and about the valuation of Google, Microsoft or Amazon. It's a much smaller sum than the world found to bail out its banks in 2008 or deal with Covid-19.
In this week’s How To Academy Podcast, New Scientist senior editor and evolutionary biologist Rowan Hooper explores how $1 trillion could be used to change the course of human history: from creating artificial life to colonising the moon, helping in the fight against climate change to lifting millions out of poverty.
It’s the ultimate thought experiment and a powerful reminder of the power of science and economics to shape our collective future.
Derren Brown – How To Be a Little Happier
Since he introduced us to his singular and inimitable brand of psychology, stagecraft and magic in 2000, Derren Brown has played Russian Roulette on live television, convinced middle-managers to commit armed robbery in the street, led the nation in a séance and exposed psychic and faith-healing charlatans. His live shows astonish audiences across the country and have captivated the West End and Broadway.
He joined How To Academy to teach a lesson none of us can afford to miss: what we can do to be a little happier and less anxious in a difficult world.
This show, which seems to cover just about everything, is really interesting. It's funny, thoughtful, and most of all, educational.