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OpenLearn Live: 18th April 2016

Updated Monday, 18th April 2016

The medal awarded to celebrate where industry and arts unite. Then more free learning across the day.

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OpenLearn Live is an answer to the question "why should I care about free learning?" This page will be updated across the day.

On Friday, we completed a week of Aprils past; heard how science reporting can strengthen sexist assumptions and heard about Dorothy Parker's legacy

See the complete collection of OpenLearn Live

Today's posts

FutureLearn this week

Just a quick reminder that every Monday FutureLearn pulls out a bunch of new courses, like an infinite number of Little Jack Horners pulling out any number of plums. Amongst the highlights starting today are What Is A Mind from the University of Cape Town and Understanding Devolved Elections from the University of Edinburgh.

See the full list of new courses from FutureLearn

Time, please, for science

Bringing together pubs and science, the Pint of Science festival returns at the end of next month. Yes, pint of science:


Our aim is to deliver science talks in a fun, engaging and approachable way by bringing them to a pub close to you. We will bring you the most interesting and knowledgeable scientists around to give a talk about their research. You just sit back, sip your drink, listen and then you can either ask questions, have a drink with them or even tell them about your crazy idea to save humanity (we can’t promise they will listen, but hey, why not give it a shot?).


The festival takes place over three evenings in May 2016. It happens simultaneously in the UK, Ireland, France, Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, Brazil, Australia, Canada, Austria and South Africa.

Find out more at the pint of science website

Fifties forward: The RSA Bicentenary Medal

This week, we're following on from BBC Radio 2's celebration of all things 1950s by exploring some answers to the question 'what did the 50s do for us?'. We'll be looking at some people, places and things which have their roots in that decade - but still resonate today.

We're starting with the Bicentenary Medal of the Royal Society of Arts.

Royal Society Of The Arts Creative commons image Icon CGP Grey under Creative Commons BY 4.0 license

The RSA goes back much futher than the 50s - back to 1754, in fact, when William Shipley founded the organisation under the title Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. And it's that link between arts and commerce which inspired the thinking behind the medal awarded biannually to mark the start of the RSA's third century.

The medal is given to a person judged to bring together design and business:

Instituted in 1954 as a permanent commemoration of the Society's Bicentenary. Bicentenary Medal is awarded to a person, who, in a manner other than an industrial designer, has exerted exceptional influence in promoting art and design in British industry. The recipient may or may not be a designer, the medal recognises the influence which extends beyond the winner's own design work.

The committee who decide the winner are encouraged to consider individuals who are not already "bedecked with medals" - a prize, then, intended to honour an unsung hero.

The selected recipient gets, as you'd expect, a beautifully designed medal:

The obverse shows the heads of Minerva and Mercury, and has been struck from the original die of a medal which the Society first used in 1820. It was designed by William Wyon RA, based on an earlier design by John Flaxman RA. The lettering on the reverse is new and was cut by George T Friend to the design of John R Biggs. The medal is silver gilt.

The first winner was Sir Colin Anderson. Besides being an extensive collector of art deco work, Anderson brought his passion for good design to the family shipping firm, the Orient Line. In particular, at his insistence the Orion was fitted out in a Bauhaus style.

Subsequent winners have included Terence Conran, Fiona McCarthy and, most recently, Andrea Siodmok. Her role - as head of the Cabinet Office's Policy Lab - is ensuring design is at the heart of government:


More for OpenLearn on design





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