Arts & Giving | Need To Now

Intellectual debates: all wrapped up

A mentally stimulating Christmas present for the politically engaged

Intellectual debates: all wrapped up

December 21 2012
Charlotte Abrahams

Anyone interested in current affairs and intellectual debate will know that, stimulating though these subjects are, it’s people with product-orientated hobbies such as fishing and cookery who always get the best Christmas gifts. This year, however, the clever folk behind Intelligence Squared are bucking the trend.

Founded in 2002 by John Gordon, former chief executive of global media intelligence company Xtreme Information, and Jeremy O’Grady, editor in chief of The Week, Intelligence Squared is an international debate and discussion forum that brings together some of the most exciting orators and sharpest minds to discuss the issues that define our times. The list of former speakers reads like an A-Z of the intellectual elite (think Alain de Botton to Gore Vidal via Germaine Greer and Richard Dawkins), while recent subjects have ranged from “Jesus would have voted Democrat” and “London should love its bankers” to “The democratisation of manufacturing, design and technology”.

Past debates are available to view online, but anyone seeking the full Intelligence Squared experience must be there in person – which is where the Christmas gift comes in. For the sum of £200, Open to Debate memberships can be redeemed in any combination, from one seat at six debates to six seats at one debate. As well as front-of-house tickets to the entire spring 2013 London programme (a thought-provoking collection, including “Israel is destroying itself with its settlement policy” on Tuesday January 15, “Karl Marx was right” on Tuesday April 9 and “Putin has been good for Russia” on Thursday May 23), membership entitles the recipient to join the Intelligence Squared Round Table and help to decide the debates for the autumn season.

As presents go, this trumps other annual subscriptions – especially as the membership card comes packed in a chic, numbered black and red gift box (pictured). But do hurry: these cards come in a limited edition of 250.