Free, Online Academic-Level Resources | Campaigning, Education & Activism

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In our Campaigning, Education & Activism blogs, we share tools, tips and resources to help you help the causes you care about.

Interested in a topic or issue but not sure where to start, or which resources to trust? We’ve compiled some platforms offering academic, professional lectures, livestreams and courses.

Gresham Lectures

Founded in 1597 and based in the City of London, Gresham College is a charity that exists to provide free lectures, and an estimated 1,800 are available to watch online! Experienced academics, often doctors and professors, offer lectures on a wide variety of subjects, including law, history, politics, science, business, the arts and religion. If you’re interested in learning more about the history and nuances of issues you care about, we can’t think of a better place to start.

Gresham College logo

The Royal Institution of Great Britain

It sounds a little grand but the Royal Institution is another independent charity with excellent academic resources. Its focus is on scientific research, and its world famous Christmas Lectures are led by top academics. The RI hosts free live streams every Tuesday and Thursday. Some recent topics that might appeal to activists or campaigners include climate change, vaccine hesitancy, scientific communication, mental health and gender.

The British Museum

While we understand that many of you might be hesitant to fund the British Museum due to its housing of distinctly not-British artefacts and historically ethically questionable methods of procuring such artefacts, we can’t deny that museum staff and guests are fountains of knowledge, and that a lot of that knowledge is available for free on YouTube. There’s no better way to understand present issues than to learn how and why those issues evolved. (For balance, here is the campaign to return the Parthenon Marbles (also known as the Elgin Marbles or Parthenon Frieze) from the British Museum to the Acropolis in Athens.)

FutureLearn

FutureLearn is an entirely online platform offering courses of varying lengths. While some are paid-for, a great number are free and cover topics including sustainability, humanitarian aid and conflict, race, crime and punishment, migration and ecology.

FutureLearn logo

And one entertaining resource…

Sometimes it’s nice to learn while we’re too busy enjoying ourselves to think about learning. BBC Sounds is the BBC’s audio streaming and download service. It’s free, it’s available without commercial advertising for listeners in the UK and it has an enormous back catalogue of older BBC radio programmes as well as newer radio shows and podcasts. Dip into science with The Infinite Monkey Cage and The Life Scientific, history with You’re Dead to Me, race and culture with Have You Heard George’s Podcast?, It’s Not Always Black and White and But… Where Are You Really From?, words and language with Word of Mouth and the Reith Lectures if you’re in the mood for, well, actual lectures. Those are slightly academic. We’re just listing radio shows and podcasts – there are lots of music mixes and soundscapes too.

Francesca loves Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics (classical history! Feminism! Mythology!). Sarah really enjoyed Nuremberg: The Trial of the Nazi War Criminals, although cautions that listeners should be prepared for graphic descriptions of the Holocaust, executions, violence and anti-Semitism.

BBC Sounds logo on black and orange background

What do you think of our suggestions? Let us know in a comment – we’d love to hear any recommendations you have!

Last updated on 12th October 2021.

Published by Francesca

Author • Founder and Managing Director of the Do Something Directory • Still can't believe MCR reunited.

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