Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts

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Fellowship of the
Royal Society of Arts
London - The Royal Society of Arts.jpg
The Royal Society of Arts building in London, England
Awarded for"Contributions to Social Progress and Development"
Sponsored by Royal Society of Arts
Date1754 (1754)
Location London
Country United Kingdom
No. of Fellows30,000 (since 1754) [1]
Website www.thersa.org/fellowship

Fellowship of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA) is an award [2] [3] [4] [5] granted to individuals that the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) judges to have made outstanding achievements to social progress and development.


In the official language of the Fellowship Charter, the award recognizes the contributions of exceptional individuals from around the world who have made significant contributions relating to the Arts, Manufacture and Commerce. Fellowship is only awarded to those who can demonstrate that they have made significant contributions to social change, and support the mission of the RSA. [6] [7] [8] [9] Fellows of the RSA are entitled to use the post-nominal letters FRSA after their name and gain access to the RSA Library and to other premises in central London. [10]

Past and current Fellows include leading activists, artists, writers, journalists and former politicians who have made significant contributions to their fields. Previous Fellows have included Stephen Hawking, Charles Dickens, Karl Marx and Benjamin Franklin.


The Royal Society of the Arts was founded in 1754 by William Shipley as the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce, it was granted a Royal Charter in 1847, and the right to use the term Royal in its name by King Edward VII in 1908. The shorter version, The Royal Society of Arts and the related RSA acronym, are used more frequently than the full name.

In addition to the Fellowship, the RSA awards three medals, the Albert Medal, the Benjamin Franklin Medal (following a decision by the Board in 2013, the Benjamin Franklin Medal is now overseen by the RSA US, although the final nomination is ratified by the UK Board) and the Bicentenary Medal. Medal winners include Sir Frank Whittle and Cambridge Professor Stephen Hawking.


The Royal Society of Arts building (18th-century engraving) The Society of Arts, John Street, Adelphi.jpg
The Royal Society of Arts building (18th-century engraving)

Since 1754, the RSA Fellowship has been a community of leaders in the fields of art, literature, journalism, and business who have made significant contributions to society or the arts, and are able to support the mission of the RSA.

Acceptance into the fellowship is strict. New fellows are selected by the nomination of an existing fellow or by a request for fellowship. [11] If applicants apply without a nomination, they have to be supported by two referees. All nominations and applications are reviewed by a fellowship admissions panel.

Notable fellows

Some of its Fellows, who come from diverse backgrounds and professions, include:

Previous Fellows have included:

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William Shipley English founder of arts society and academy

William Shipley was an English drawing master, social reformer and inventor who, in 1754, founded an arts society in London that became The Royal Society of Arts, or Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce (RSA).

The first modern public exhibition took place in London during 1756, when the recently established Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce held the first in a series of fine art exhibitions. Prizes were offered for improvements in the manufacture of tapestry, carpets and porcelain, and winners were chosen from a competition of submitted articles. The show was open to society members and their friends. The society was more concerned with quicker production and more efficient implements than with artistic expression. Awards were given to young students for such practical things as planting oak trees for the English navy and dyeing textiles. There were 130 paintings by 69 painters in the exhibition, including artists such as Joshua Reynolds, Benjamin Wilson, Richard Cosway and Louis-François Roubiliac.

The Royal Society of Arts Benjamin Franklin Medal was instituted in 1956 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin's birth and the 200th anniversary of his membership to the Royal Society of Arts.

The Albert Medal of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) was instituted in 1864 as a memorial to Prince Albert, who had been President of the Society for 18 years. It was first awarded in 1864 for "distinguished merit in promoting Arts, Manufactures and Commerce". In presenting the Medal, the Society now looks to acknowledge individuals, organisation and groups that lead progress and create positive change within contemporary society in areas that are linked closely to the Society's broad agenda.

Marjorie Scardino American-born British business woman (born 1947)

Dame Marjorie Morris Scardino,, FRSA is an American-born British business executive. She is the former CEO of Pearson PLC. Scardino became a trustee of Oxfam during her tenure at Pearson. She has been criticized by Private Eye magazine because, while Oxfam campaigns against corporate tax avoidance as part of the IF Coalition, Pearson was "a prolific tax haven user...routing hundreds of millions of pounds through an elaborate series of Luxembourg companies to avoid tax". She became the first female Chief Executive of a FTSE 100 company when she was appointed CEO of Pearson in 1997. She is also a non-executive director of Nokia and former CEO of the Economist Group. During her time at Pearson, Pearson's profits tripled, to a record £942m. In December 2013, she joined the board of Twitter as its first female director, after a controversy involving a lack of diversity on the Twitter board.

John Ffowcs Williams British engineer-scientist

John "Shôn" Eirwyn Ffowcs Williams (1935–2020) was Emeritus Rank Professor of Engineering at the University of Cambridge and a former Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge (1996–2002). He may be best known for his contributions to aeroacoustics, in particular for his work on Concorde. Together with one of his students, David Hawkings, he introduced the far-field integration method in computational aeroacoustics based on Lighthill's acoustic analogy, known as the Ffowcs Williams–Hawkings analogy.

John William MillsPPRBS ARCA FRSA is an English sculptor.

Margaret Mary Murnane is Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder, having moved there in 1999, with past positions at the University of Michigan and Washington State University. She is currently Director of the STROBE NSF Science and Technology Center, and is among the foremost active researchers in laser science and technology. Her interests and research contributions span topics including atomic, molecular, and optical physics, nanoscience, laser technology, materials and chemical dynamics, plasma physics, and imaging science. Her work has earned her multiple awards including the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship award in 2000, the Frederic Ives Medal/Quinn Prize in 2017, the highest award of The Optical Society, and the 2021 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics.

Harold ONeal American film composer

Harold Mujahid O'Neal FRSA is an American pianist, composer, record producer, public speaker, dancer, and storyteller. He has recorded and performed with artists in a variety of musical genres. O'Neal has been profiled and featured in numerous publications and programs including Forbes, NPR's All Things Considered, Fortune, Studio 360, and the 92Y, with The New York Times comparing him to Duke Ellington, Kenny Kirkland, and Maurice Ravel. He is considered to be of this generation's greatest pianists and composers. O'Neal has been awarded fellowship to the Royal Society of the Arts, with the Patron being Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and recently played a role as a creative expert for the Academy Award winning Pixar film, Soul.

The Bicentenary Medal of the Royal Society of Arts is awarded to "a person who, in a manner other than as an industrial designer, has applied art and design in great effect as instruments of civic innovation", as long as the winner is not already "bedecked with medals". It was first awarded in 1954, on the bicentenary of the Royal Society of Arts, and continues to be awarded annually with exceptions in 2003, 2006 and 2012.

Mark Roger Wilkinson OBE, OLM was an English furniture designer.

Donal Donat Conor Bradley is the Vice President for Research at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia. From 2015 until 2019, he was head of the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division of the University of Oxford and a Professor of Engineering Science and Physics at Jesus College, Oxford. From 2006 to 2015, he was the Lee-Lucas Professor of Experimental Physics at Imperial College London. He was the founding director of the Centre for Plastic Electronics and served as vice-provost for research at the college.

The Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, founded in 1754, was the precursor of The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce now more usually known as the RSA. The original Society gained the Royal prefix in the Edwardian era, when the Prince of Wales was its President. Its primary aim was to stimulate industry through the awarding of prizes.

Donna Ockenden

Donna Ockenden is a British midwife, businesswoman and community activist. As a senior midwife, she was commissioned in 2016 by the UK Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to chair an independent review into maternity services at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust. Interim findings of the Ockenden Review were reported in December 2020.

Stathis Kefallonitis FRSA, FRAeS, FCIM is a Greek American consumer engagement strategist, neuroscientist and professor at Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University, with particular interest in the air transport industry.


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  3. "Heritage". 24 March 2011. Archived from the original on 24 March 2011. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  4. Watt-Smith, Claire (9 November 2009). "Claire Watt-Smith awarded Fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts". BoBelle, London, UK. Archived from the original on 12 August 2011. Retrieved 11 March 2011.
  5. "Nonprofit Student Leader becomes the youngest Fellow of the royal society RSA - Thrive Global". thriveglobal.com. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  6. University of Hertfordshire. "Hertfordshire Professor elected Fellow of Royal Society of Arts". Archived from the original on 8 February 2018. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  7. Richardson, Stuart (20 May 2010). "Royal Society of Arts welcomes Blitz studio heads to its ranks" . Retrieved 11 March 2011.
  8. Citi University London. "City academic elected to prestigious RSA Fellowship". Archived from the original on 15 June 2018. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  9. "Meet Le Dong Hai "DoHa" Nguyen, the youngest Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce". The London Economic. 4 September 2019. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  10. "Post-Nominal Letters". Royal Society of Arts. 2016. Retrieved 9 March 2018.
  11. "Nominate a Fellow". thersa.org. 2016.