At the Exeter workshop in 2012, the idea of living like a Stoic for a week was put forward and the team set about putting together a booklet of exercises. Originally, the week was intended to be an optional ‘philosophy club’ for students studying Roman Philosophy at Exeter University, with the aim of organising a more well advertised week at a future date. As it happened though, there was considerable interest in the week – the blog received 15,000 hits around the time of the Stoic Week at the end of November, articles appeared in the Guardian and the Independent, and around 150 people signed up to the week. Although only an initial pilot study, data collected from the week showed a 10% reduction in negative emotions over the course of the week.
Then, in 2013, the team received funding from the AHRC (Arts & Humanities Research Council), as well as from Birkbeck, University of London, to work for three months on the preparation of another Stoic Week (November 25th-December 1st) (Read the press release here)
A completely new Handbook, was designed for the week, with day-by-day guidance. New audio exercises were created and a new psychological scale, the Stoic Attitudes Scale. A one-day public event, in the end attended by over 200 people, was planned for the Saturday of Stoic Week (November 30th) at Birkbeck, University of London, with a host of workshops and a roundtable discussion with invited panellists to discuss what Stoicism has to offer today.
Around 2,200 people signed up to the week and the blog had 68,000 hits over the course of Stoic Week. (The original page on the blog announcing the week was shared over 1,800 times on Facebook). Around a dozen newspapers covered the week, as did the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, BBC Wales, BBC World Service and NewsTalk Radio Station in Dublin. Many people blogged about their experiences of the week too, and you can read all the comments that were sent in during the week on the blog archive (look for the posts Day 1-Day 7) of Stoic Week 2012.
Events took place worldwide. In the UK, events were organised by Philosophy in Pubs, Kings College London, and Reading University. Workshops were also given to the NHS and to a group of Exeter MBA students interested in ethical business. Through social media, groups met in New York and in Canada in Montreal. In Ireland, and in Bangalore India too.
Several Schools also took part, including including Wellington, Shrewsbury, Brooke House Sixth Form College in London, St. Cuthberts, the James Allen Girls’ School, all in the UK, and also a school in the Netherlands, Hermann Wesselink College, and Jerudong School in Brunei.
Stoic Week was repeated for a third time in 2014, and again in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018, each year attracting more participants. In total, over 20,000 people have signed up to date.
You can read the full report on the data collected from Stoic Week 2013 here.
The report for 2014 is available here.