Modern Stoicism / Stoicism Today
I am one of the founder members of the Stoicism Today project, responsible for ‘Stoic Week’ and a series of annual public events dubbed ‘Stoicon’. The project’s (new) website can be found at modernstoicism.com (and on Facebook, Twitter).
In the Autumn of 2012 I was one of a number of invited participants at a workshop held at the University of Exeter, bringing together academics and psychotherapists with a view to thinking about whether it might be possible to test the efficacy of ancient Stoic practices. It was at this workshop that the idea of Stoic Week was born. The idea was simple: invite participants to follow a series of Stoic practices for a week, asking them to note their subjective sense of well being before and after. We rolled out Stoic Week for the first time in November 2012, primarily for a group of students based at Exeter, but inviting others who were curious to join in too. This was very much a trial run.
I gave public lectures on Stoicism and psychotherapy in the early months of 2013, in Bristol and at the Institute of Psychiatry in London. Later that year, with the support of an AHRC grant (‘Putting Stoicism into Practice’, for which I was Co-Investigator), we repeated Stoic Week, this time with maximum publicity, in order to attract as many participants as possible. There was a good deal of media attention. I took the lead organizing a large public event in London to coincide with Stoic Week, which we called ‘Stoicism for Everyday Life’ (2013, held at Birkbeck, blog post here). The event was a great success, with over 200 participants.
We repeated again in 2014. I was interviewed about the project on ABC Radio in Australia. A second public event was held in London (at Queen Mary), at which I spoke and ran a workshop. 2015 saw the fourth iteration of Stoic Week, and a further public event at Queen Mary, now dubbed ‘Stoicon’, at which I ran a workshop. In order to vary the range of participants, we invited a number of external speakers from the USA to join us at the event, some of whom came on board as new members of the steering group. This led to our next big public event, in Autumn 2016, being held in New York, with a smaller event in London. I was unable to attend either event, although I did a short interview in the run-up to Stoic Week 2016 for the project website. At this point, the website relocated from its original location at the University of Exeter to an autonomous site, modernstoicism.com.
I was one of the contributing authors for the initial versions of the Stoic Week handbook, upon which subsequent versions have been based. I have written numerous blog posts for the project website, some of which have been published in Volumes 1 and 2 of Stoicism Today: Selected Writings (2014. 2016). You can find links to these here.
In 2017, Stoic Week happened again, in October (16th-22nd), with the large public event, Stoicon, taking place in Toronto (14th Oct). A series of smaller Stoicon-x events were held at locations around the world, and I organized Stoicon-x London, which took place on Saturday 21st October, at Senate House, University of London, with the support of the Institute of Philosophy and Royal Holloway. In the run up to this I was interviewed for the Daily Stoic website and by Scott Perry for his series of Stoic interviews. The event featured briefly in the Radio 4 series 'Hacking Happiness', that aired in July 2018.
In 2018, Stoicon came back to London. It took place on Saturday 29th September in Senate House, University of London, hosted by the Institute of Philosophy and the Institute of Classical Studies, and sponsored by Royal Holloway and the British Society for the History of Philosophy. Further details here. In the run up I wrote a piece for The Conversation, which was picked up by The Independent, Metro, World Economic Form, and Newsweek. There was also a short piece in The Times and a piece in The Daily Mail. Stoic Week ran for the seventh time, once again bigger than before, with just over 8,000 people enrolled.
2019 marked the 8th iteration of Stoic Week. Stoicon 2019 was held in Athens, the birthplace of Stoicism (details here). I was one of the main speakers. This attracted media attention both in Greece and the UK, including a major feature in The Times. I also organized a Stoicon-x event in London, on 12th October (details here).
In 2020, I took over as Chair of Modern Stoicism. Stoic Week ran again but, with the global pandemic, Stoicon was forced online; I gave the opening talk. The event turned out to be a great success, with almost a thousand people joining online.