Gresham College started in 1597 with a revolutionary mission: to bring free education to Londoners in English. For over 400 years, we continue to make world-class knowledge and high-quality talks and videos freely accessible to the public.
Gresham College fosters a love of learning and a greater understanding of ourselves and the world around us. We aim to stimulate intellectual curiosity and to champion academic rigour, professional expertise and freedom of expression.
When Gresham College was set up in 1597, it was the first institute of higher learning in London, and the Universities in Oxford and Cambridge still taught all their students in Latin. Not only was Gresham accessible to people with no or minimal knowledge of Latin - and therefore to a much wider range of backgrounds - it also focused on subjects that many universities did not teach then, like astronomy and geometry - disciplines which had more explicit practical applications for navigation and trade.
One of the most far-reaching impacts it had was founding the Royal Society, which was set up by a group of 12 men after one of Sir Christopher Wren’s lectures in 1660. The Royal Society is known as probably the most prestigious scientific societies in the world.
Our eminent lecturers include luminaries like Sir Christopher Wren, Robert Hooke, composer Iannis Xenakis, mathematicians John Barrow and Roger Penrose, astronomers Lord Martin Rees, Heather Couper and Carolin Crawford. Find out more about our history.
Our Reach Today
Today, we reach people from more than 50 countries with 6.5m views of our lectures alone in 2020-21. About a third of our audience is from the US and some 25% from the UK, but we also reach around the world to Sweden, India, Mexico and Kenya.
As Gresham lectures are an excellent way of providing educational enrichment and helping students with their research projects and ‘stretch and challenge’ activities, we have been working to engage more school students with our lectures in the UK. In 2020-21, we had over 10,000 views of our new lectures by registered school students.
The Gresham Professors have a wide-ranging impact on academia across a multitude of disciplines.
Read more about the current Professors and their lecture series'.