The RSA was founded during the Enlightenment by William Shipley in 1754 with the first meeting being held at Rawthmell’s Coffee House, Covent Garden, London.
Shipley’s belief that the creativity of ideas could enrich social progress was reflected in the diversity of awards offered by the Premium Award Scheme. For the first 100 years the Society encouraged innovation and excellence through this scheme in six areas - Agriculture, Manufacture, Chemistry, Mechanics, Polite Arts, Colonies and Trade.
Our long lasting commitment to education from being one of the first to promote improvement in girl’s education leading to the establishment of Girls’ Public Day Schools and the first public examination system continues today with our growing family of RSA Academy schools.
We also demonstrated a strong commitment to the environment by offering awards for the reduction of smoke emissions as early as 1770, the first recorded use in an environmental context of the word ‘sustainability’ in 1980 and our continued commitment to environmental sustainability reflected in our Great Recovery Programme.
21st century enlightenment: Enriching society through ideas and action.
Our mission is to create the conditions for the enlightened thinking and collaborative action needed to address today's most pressing social challenges.
We serve this mission by acting as a global hub, by enabling millions of people to access the most creative ideas, by nurturing networks of innovators, and through researching, testing and sharing practical interventions.
OUR APPROACH - THE POWER TO CREATE
The power to create is the ability to turn your ideas and aspirations into reality.
The rapid pace of change in society, politics and technology means that many more people around the world now have the desire, the tools and the resources to turn their ideas and aspirations into reality.
Our Power to Create approach aims to ensure that this creative power can be exercised by everyone, not just the few. Through our Fellowship, research, practical innovation and campaigning, we are working to release the creativity of as many people as possible, in order to address the many challenges that we currently face - from low educational attainment, to social isolation, unemployment, and climate change.
We believe that the innovation that flows from this approach can establish a 21st enlightenment, ensuring that ever more creative people are equipped for the creative times we live in.OUR WORK
The RSA has been at the forefront of social change for over 260 years.
Each research project we undertake, every event we host and the ideas we promote, all further our core mission of 21st century enlightenment.
All our activity aims to strengthen, empower and mobilise networks to work together in taking on today’s most pressing social challenges.
Our cutting-edge research, dynamic Fellowship, award-winning Journal and global ideas platform combine to produce real social change.