The statue of Rousseau, a key figure of the Enlightenment, on the Île Rousseau, Geneva.

This learning pathway will provide you with an understanding of the Enlightenment. The Reformation and the declining power of the Catholic Church in Europe led to a period of great intellectual development and radically new ways of thinking about the world. Enlightenment thinkers embraced science and reason as primary sources of authority and legitimacy. Ideals such as liberty, democracy, political freedom and scientific inquiry attracted vibrant discussion. New ideas were proposed about the relationships between government, church and people. These included constitutional government, separation of church and state, and concepts of human rights. In this learning pathway you will discover the origins of the Enlightenment, central ideas and figures from the Enlightenment, and learn about its political and social impact.

During this learning pathway you will watch a video lecture about science and the Enlightenment and read a number of articles on the Enlightenment and key Enlightenment philosophers.



  • Learn about the origins of the Enlightenment.
  • Engage with key Enlightenment ideals.
  • Examine how science was integral to the Enlightenment.
  • Explore the political and social impacts of the Enlightenment.