Student Conferences

The Adam Smith Institute holds a number of conferences each year, both for sixth-formers and undergraduates. These conferences are a great way to learn more about free market economics and libertarian ideas. They are completely free of charge, and we usually throw in a few free books too.

Independent Seminar on the Open Society

Each year, we hold several ISOS (Independent Seminar on the Open Society) events at schools across the UK. An ISOS is a one-day conference for 100+ sixth-form students. Named after the seminal book The Open Society and its Enemies by the philosopher Sir Karl Popper, our ISOS events explore the principles and practicalities of an open, free, and tolerant society. The programmes are designed to mesh in with A-level and AS-level syllabuses in politics and economics. Speakers deliberately pitch their talks at a standard of difficulty and technicality that will be comprehensible, but challenging, to students at these levels, whilst challenging attendees and introducing some new ideas. 

Recent seminars have featured, amongst much else, Dr Madsen Pirie on the common mistakes policymakers and economists tend to make, Douglas Carswell MP on his idea of iDemocracy, Bioethicist Professor John Harris on the right to sell kidneys for money, and Philip Booth from the IEA on whether the UK is solving its debt problem. Recent debate topics have included ‘This House Believes That We Should Legalize Marijuana’ and ‘This House Believes That The Most Effective Poverty Reduction Strategy Is More Government Intervention’. Download a sample programme here.

ISOS events are mainly held in the Greater London area in both the Autumn and Spring terms, with at least one held in a city other than London. One teacher who organised a recent ISOS conference at Victory Academy, Kent, said: 

"This was an excellent event. We were extremely lucky to host such a prestigious event. Our students are intelligent and ambitious, however like all students they do not yet know what they do not yet know. Having enrichment of this type lifts the lid on the world and widens the understanding, and hopefully promotes higher thinking in students as they contemplate their future lives.

Thank you so much for an engaging and rewarding experience."

If you’re a teacher or student interested in finding out more about the ISOS programme or suggesting a school for us to visit, please get in touch at

The Liberty Lectures

We also hold a more advanced conference – called The Liberty Lectures – for current University students or those about to start. This takes the format of four, forty -minute sessions over a day. In previous years, LSE professor Chandran Kukathas spoke on the link between liberty and multiculturalism, Theodore Dalyrmple on the link between modern culture and poverty, philosopher and consultant Jamie Whyte on the failures of evidence-based policy, and KCL professor Adam Martin on growth and international development.

Videos of previous lectures, and of our other events, can be found on our YouTube video channel.