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From Tudor virtual reality to racism in techno music: 100 of the UK's brightest minds celebrated in 10th anniversary of New Generation Thinkers

Date: 08/07/2020

This week marks the 10th anniversary of New Generation Thinkers, run by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Each year, 10 of the brightest minds in the arts and humanities are chosen for the scheme, which brings their vibrant mix of research to BBC radio and television to capture the public imagination. One hundred early career researchers have been involved in New Generation Thinkers since 2010.

As part of the 10th anniversary celebrations, BBC Radio 3 will run a series of 10 essays by the 2019 thinkers. With subjects ranging from Tudor virtual reality and racism in techno music, to reclaiming the word ‘crip’ and ‘coming out’ as disabled’ and rethinking facial disfigurement, these essays reflect the range and diversity of research from the New Generation Thinkers. The series will be on the BBC Radio 3’s Arts & Ideas podcast and will be broadcast in BBC Radio 3’s Essay every weekday at 10.45pm from Monday 29 June to Friday 3 July.

From 29 June, early career researchers from across the UK will also be invited to apply for the next round of New Generation Thinkers, when the 2021 call for entries opens.

Since launching the scheme in 2010, the AHRC, BBC Radio 3 and BBC Arts have given 100 New Generation Thinkers unique access to training and support and the prestigious opportunity to communicate their research by making programmes for BBC radio and television.

New Generation Thinkers have become regulars on BBC Radio 3, presented TV documentaries on BBC4, discussed their work with the public at the Hay Festival, hosted panel sessions, made short films about their expertise and have taken part in judging panels for leading cultural prizes. Several have gone on to become established BBC presenters, with New Generation Thinkers alumni including Shahidha Bari, Daisy Fancourt, Alexandra Harris and Laurence Scott. 

Professor Andrew Thompson, Executive Chair of the AHRC, said: “Since 2010 the New Generation Thinkers scheme has developed ten groups of academics to bring the best of university research and scholarly ideas to a broad audience through media and public engagement.

“Now, more than ever, we need to share the rich and diverse array of research in the world of arts and humanities with the public and open the window to a world of research that will amaze and engage.”

Alan Davey, Controller, BBC Radio 3, said: “At Radio 3 we want as many people as possible to have life enhancing cultural experiences, especially in these extraordinary times. Since the New Generation Thinkers launch ten years ago in 2010, it has changed the nature of academic debate on Radio 3. The scheme has supported and nurtured some extraordinary talent, and given the broadcasters of tomorrow a platform to spotlight fresh ways of thinking about both the past and present.”

The New Generation Thinkers scheme is one of the major ways the AHRC engages the public with the inspiring research taking place across the UK. It’s a chance for early career researchers, with support and training provided by AHRC and BBC Radio 3, to cultivate the skills to communicate their research findings to those outside the academic community; helping the next generation of researchers find new and wider audiences for their research by giving them a platform to share their ideas and allowing them to have the space to challenge our thinking.

New Generation Thinkers are also exemplars for AHRC’s academic community, leading the way for other researchers and inspiring other arts and humanities researchers to get into public engagement.

The 2020 New Generation Thinkers were announced in March and were selected from hundreds of applications from researchers at the start of their careers. They all demonstrated a passion for communicating their work and a skill for making complex areas of study engaging, accessible, and enlightening.

Visit the AHRC website to find out more about the scheme and the call for entries, which is open from 29 June to 8 October 2020.


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