AskDefine | Define academy

Dictionary Definition



1 a secondary school (usually private)
2 an institution for the advancement of art or science or literature [syn: honorary society]
3 a school for special training
4 a learned establishment for the advancement of knowledge

User Contributed Dictionary



French académie < acadēmīa < (Akadēmia), a grove of trees and gymnasium outside of Athens where Plato taught; from the name of the supposed former owner of that estate, the Attic hero Akademos. Compare academe, academia, Akademeia.


  • /əˈkædəmi/, /@"k

Extensive Definition

An academy (Greek Ἀκαδημία) is an institution of higher learning, research, or honorary membership. The name traces back to Plato's school of philosophy, founded approximately 385 BC at Akademia, a sanctuary of Athena, the goddess of wisdom, north of Athens.

The original Academy

Before the Akademia was a school, and even before Cimon enclosed its precincts with a wall (Plutarch Life of Cimon xiii:7), it contained a sacred grove of olive trees dedicated to Athena, the goddess of wisdom, outside the city walls of ancient Athens (Thucydides ii:34). The archaic name for the site was Hekademia, which by classical times evolved into Akademia and was explained, at least as early as the beginning of the 6th century BC, by linking it to an Athenian hero, a legendary "Akademos". The site of the Academy was sacred to Athena and other immortals.
Plato's immediate successors as "scholarch" of the Academy were Speusippus (347-339 BC), Xenocrates (339-314 BC), Polemon (314-269 BC), Crates (ca. 269-266 BC), and Arcesilaus (ca. 266-240 BC). Later scholarchs include Lacydes of Cyrene, Carneades, Clitomachus, and Philo of Larissa ("the last undisputed head of the Academy"). Other notable members of the Academy include Aristotle, Heraclides Ponticus, Eudoxus of Cnidus, Philip of Opus, Crantor, and Antiochus of Ascalon.

The Neoplatonic Academy of Late Antiquity

see End of Hellenic Religion
After a lapse during the early Roman occupation, the Academy was refounded (Cameron 1965) as a new institution of some outstanding Platonists of late antiquity who called themselves "successors" (diadochoi,, but of Plato) and presented themselves as an uninterrupted tradition reaching back to Plato. However, there cannot have actually been any geographical, institutional, economic or personal continuity with the original Academy in the new organizational entity (Bechtle).
The last "Greek" philosophers of the revived Academy in the 6th century were drawn from various parts of the Hellenistic cultural world and suggest the broad syncretism of the common culture (see koine): Five of the seven Academy philosophers mentioned by Agathias were Syriac in their cultural origin: Hermias and Diogenes (both from Phoenicia), Isidorus of Gaza, Damascius of Syria, Iamblichus of Coele-Syria and perhaps even Simplicius of Cilicia (Thiele).
The emperor Justinian closed the school in AD 529, a date that is often cited as the end of Antiquity. According to the sole witness, the historian Agathias, its remaining members looked for protection under the rule of Sassanid king Khosrau I in his capital at Ctesiphon, carrying with them precious scrolls of literature and philosophy, and to a lesser degree of science. After a peace treaty between the Persian and the Byzantine empire in 532 guaranteed their personal security (an early document in the history of freedom of religion), some members found sanctuary in the pagan stronghold of Harran, near Edessa. One of the last leading figures of this group was Simplicius, a pupil of Damascius, the last head of the Athenian school. The students of the Academy-in-exile, an authentic and important Neoplatonic school surviving at least until the 10th century, contributed to the Islamic preservation of Greek science and medicine, when Islamic forces took the area in the 7th century (Thiele). One of the earliest academies established in the east was the 7th century Academy of Gundishapur in Sassanid Persia.

Modern use of the term academy

Because of the tradition of intellectual brilliance associated with this institution, many groups have chosen to use the word "Academy" in their name.
During the Florentine Renaissance, Cosimo de' Medici took a personal interest in the new Platonic Academy that he determined to re-establish in 1439, centered on the marvellous promise shown by Marsilio Ficino, scarcely more than a lad. Cosimo had been inspired by the arrival at the otherwise ineffective Council of Florence of Gemistos Plethon, who seemed like a Plato reborn to the Florentine intellectuals. In 1462 Cosimo gave Ficino a villa at Careggi for the Academy's use, situated where Cosimo could descry[?] it from his own villa. The Renaissance drew potent intellectual and spiritual strength from the academy at Careggi. During the course of the following century many Italian cities established an Academy, of which the oldest survivor is the Accademia dei Lincei of Rome, which became a national academy for a reunited Italy. Other national academies include the Académie Française; the Royal Academy and Royal Academy of Music of the United Kingdom; the International Academy of Science; the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York; the United States Naval Academy; United States Air Force Academy; and the Australian Defence Force Academy. In emulation of the military academies, police in the United States are trained in police academies. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents the annual Academy awards.
A fundamental feature of academic discipline in those academies that were training-schools for artists was regular practice in making accurate drawings from antiquities, or from casts of antiquities, on the one hand, and on the other, in deriving inspiration from the other fount, the human form. Students assembled in sessions drawing the draped and undraped human form, and such drawings, which survive in the tens of thousands from the 17th through the 19th century, are termed académies.
In the early 19th century "academy" took the connotations that "gymnasium" was acquiring in German-speaking lands, of school that was less advanced than a college (for which it might prepare students) but considerably more than elementary. An early example are the two academies founded at Andover and Phillips Exeter Academy. Amherst Academy expanded with time to form Amherst College.
Mozart organized public subscription performances of his music in Vienna in the 1780s and 1790s, he called the concerts "academies." This usage in musical terms survives in the concert orchestra Academy of St Martin in the Fields and in the Brixton Academy, a concert hall in Brixton, South London.
Academies proliferated in the 20th century until even a three-week series of lectures and discussions would be termed an "academy." In addition, the generic term "the academy" is sometimes used to refer to all of academia, which is sometimes considered a global successor to the Academy of Athens.

Academies overseeing universities

In some countries, notably France, academic councils called Academies are responsible for supervising all aspects of University education in a given region. Universities are answerable to their Academy, and the Academies are answerable to the Ministry of Education. However private Universities are independent of the state and therefore independent of the Academies. The French Academy regions are similar to, but not identical to, the standard French administrative regions.
This is not an exclusive use of the word "Academy" in France, note especially Académie Française.

Honorary academies

See the Académie Française and its many emulators among national honorary academies of strictly limited membership.

Research academies

In Imperial Russia and Soviet Union the term "academy", or Academy of Sciences was reserved to denote a state research establishment, see Russian Academy of Sciences. The latter one still exists in Russia, although other types of academies (study and honorary) appeared as well.

United Kingdom school type

As a British school type, privately funded Academies first became popular in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. At this time the offer of a place at an English public school and university generally required conformity to the Church of England; the Academies or Dissenting Academies provided an alternative for those with different religious views, called nonconformists.
University College London (UCL) was founded in the early nineteenth century as the first publicly funded English university to admit anyone regardless of religious adherence; and the Test and Corporation Acts that had imposed a wide range of restrictions on citizens who were not in conformity to the Church of England, were also abolished at about that date.
Recently Academies have been reintroduced. Today they are a type of secondary school - they no longer teach up to university degree level - and unlike their predecessors are only partly privately sponsored and independent, being partly paid for and controlled by the state. They have been introduced in the early years of the 21st century and though mainly state funded have a significant measure of administrative autonomy. Some of the early ones were briefly known as "City Academies". In February 2007, the National Audit Office published a report about the performance of the first academies (
In Scotland, the designation "Academy" refers to a secondary school, with over a quarter of state schools incorporating the designation into their name.



External links

Plato's Academy

academy in Catalan: Acadèmia
academy in Czech: Akademie
academy in Danish: Akademi
academy in German: Akademie
academy in Estonian: Akadeemia
academy in Spanish: Academia
academy in Esperanto: Akademio
academy in Persian: فرهنگستان
academy in French: Académie
academy in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Academia
academy in Italian: Accademia
academy in Hebrew: אקדמיה
academy in Georgian: აკადემია
academy in Ladino: Akademia
academy in Dutch: Academie
academy in Japanese: アカデミー
academy in Norwegian: Akademi
academy in Polish: Akademia (starożytność)
academy in Portuguese: Academia
academy in Romanian: Academie
academy in Russian: Академия
academy in Albanian: Akademia
academy in Serbian: Академија
academy in Finnish: Akatemia
academy in Turkish: Akademi
academy in Ukrainian: Академія
academy in Urdu: اکیڈیمی
academy in Chinese: 学园

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Gymnasium, Latin school, Realgymnasium, Realschule, Schule, ecole, educational institution, escuela, grammar school, high, high school, institute, intermediate school, junior high, junior high school, middle school, prep school, preparatory school, public school, scholastic institution, school, secondary school, seminary, senior high, senior high school, teaching institution
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