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Ten researchers from across the UK selected as 2019 'New Generation Thinkers'

Date: 01/03/2019


BBC Radio 3, BBC Arts and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) today (1 March 2019) announced the ten 2019 New Generation Thinkers

From techno music in Berlin to the post-war ‘rag trade’, and divisive dams to fake news, these researchers from across the UK will have the opportunity to communicate their research by making programmes for radio and television for the BBC.

The New Generation Thinkers were selected after a national call for the best research ideas with the potential to be shared through the media. They will now have the opportunity to make programmes for Radio 3 and other outlets, as well as contributing to wider media through the AHRC and taking part in the 2019 Being Human Festival. In addition, the scheme partners with BBC Four, where some of the selected academics will be given the opportunity to present a programme for TV.

The final ten Thinkers for 2019 hail from Cardiff University, Birkbeck College, University College London, the Universities of Cambridge, Reading, Huddersfield, St Andrews, and the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

Professor Andrew Thompson, Executive Chair of the AHRC, says: “The New Generation Thinkers scheme is all about helping the next generation of researchers to 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.

“The New Generation Thinkers scheme is also one of the major ways the AHRC engages the public with the inspiring research taking place across the UK. More than ever we need the new insights and knowledge that come from arts and humanities researchers to help us navigate through the complexities of our globalised world and address the moral and ethical challenges of today and tomorrow.”

All of the New Generation Thinkers will be using their air time to showcase a vibrant mix of research from across the arts and humanities with a view to capturing the public imagination. Some are re-discovering history that has been forgotten, such as the ‘rag trade’ in post-war British fashion and the attitudes of Neolithic Britons to caves and the underworld, while others will examine questions about our reality – such as our beliefs and knowledge of how human sight and vision works through the ages.

Other Thinkers are answering topical questions from how to protect society from ‘fake news’ and ‘dangerous speech’, to how we can better understand the home lives of migrant communities.

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

The final ten were chosen after a four-month selection process, including a series of day-long workshops at the BBC in Salford and London. They have undergone training and development with the AHRC and will spend a year being mentored by producers from Radio 3’s Free Thinking programme. Throughout this programme they will take part in Free Thinking discussions and go on to write episodes of BBC Radio 3’s The Essay.

The selected academics will be publicly unveiled at a free event recorded as part of BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking Festival at Sage Gateshead on Saturday 30 March. Additional tickets for the festival go on sale today (Friday 1 March), and the event will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on Thursday 25 April. As with all Free Thinking programmes, the broadcast will also be on the BBC Radio 3 website, BBC Sounds and as a BBC Arts & Ideas podcast. Further programmes focused on the NGT’s research will be aired throughout 2019.

At the Free Thinking Festival, the 2019 New Generation Thinkers will be joined by the 2018 Thinkers, who are recording episodes of BBC Radio 3’s The Essay before live audiences at Sage Gateshead. These essays will be broadcast on weeknights at 10:45pm from 1 to 12 April.

Alan Davey, Controller, BBC Radio 3, says: “Radio 3’s mission is to connect our audiences with pioneering music and culture. Since its launch in 2010, the New Generation Thinkers has been a central part of that mission. The scheme has supported and nurtured some extraordinary academic talent, giving the broadcasters of tomorrow a platform through which to present their fascinating and thought-provoking research to our listeners. I can’t wait to hear what ideas these ten exciting thinkers will bring to us in the coming year.”

Robyn Read, Editor of Free Thinking, says: “I love discovering the academics’ fascinating research and am always looking for ways to integrate it into Free Thinking discussions, linking their findings with new exhibitions, books, plays, films, television and topical discussion we cover on the programme. Their insights give fresh perspectives to our cultural coverage, and I hope that the experience we can offer them of working with radio production is equally valuable to their academic careers.”


Notes to editors

For further information and images please contact:

The New Generation Thinkers 2019 are:

Dr Brendan McGeever
Lecturer in the Sociology of Racialization and Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London
Brendan is researching how the left confronted antisemitism during the 1919 pogroms of the Russian Civil War

Christina J Faraday
AHRC-funded PhD candidate, University of Cambridge
Christina is looking at the ways Tudor artists made absent things vividly present for their viewers

Dr Dina Rezk
Associate Professor in Middle Eastern History and Politics, University of Reading
Dina is discovering the story of how Dr Bassem Youssef, ‘Egypt’s Jon Stewart’ shot to fame, alongside the history of the Arab Spring

Dr Ella Parry- Davies
British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
Ella is researching the lives of migrant communities of Filipina women in London and Beirut

Dr Emily Cock
Leverhulme Research Associate, School of History, Archaeology and Religion, Cardiff University
Emily is exploring changing attitudes towards facial disfigurement, from the 17th century to today

Dr Jade Halbert
Lecturer in Fashion Business and Cultural Studies, University of Huddersfield
Jade’s research rediscovers the post-war ‘rag trade’ in British fashion

Dr Jeffrey Howard
Lecturer in Political Theory, University College London
Jeff is investigating the philosophy of free speech, and how to respond to ‘dangerous speech’, lies and ‘fake news’

Dr Majed Akhter
Lecturer in Environment & Society, King's College London
Majed is examining the contentious history of dams built in the 20th century, from the Colorado River, to Ghana, to the Indus

Susan Greaney
AHRC-funded PhD candidate, Cardiff University
Susan is unearthing Neolithic humans attitudes to the ground beneath them and the underworld

Dr Tom Smith
Lecturer in German, University of St Andrews
Tom is exploring the emotional experience of techno music in Berlin and beyond

Biographies, images and further information about all ten 2019 New Generation Thinkers are available here: ahrc.ukri.org/NGT

Follow the New Generation Thinkers on Twitter with #NewGenerationThinkers

About BBC Radio 3

Since it launched in 1946, the Third Programme / BBC Radio 3 has been a bold pioneer in the cultural world. It is one of the world’s foremost presenters, creators, commissioners and curators across classical, folk, world, jazz and contemporary music as well as drama, philosophy and ideas. The station has always nurtured extraordinary artistic talents, provided a platform for important scientific and political debates/announcements, and broadcast ground-breaking experimental drama – always while delivering its core aim of connecting audiences with pioneering music and culture.

About The Arts and Humanities Research Council

The Arts and Humanities Research Council, which is part of UK Research and Innovation, funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: history, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, languages, design, heritage, area studies, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98 million to fund research and postgraduate training, in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits and contributes to the economic success of the UK but also to the culture and welfare of societies around the globe.

Find out more about the AHRC at: ahrc.ukri.org, on Twitter at @ahrcpress, on Facebook at Arts and Humanities Research Council, or Instagram at @ahrcpress.

About BBC Arts

The BBC is the biggest creator of arts content and is Britain's creative partner - a stage for the nation to experience the very best arts; when they want, how they want.

  • The nation’s stage: access to arts and culture programming for all through the licence fee - we create and showcase more arts and culture than any other broadcaster.
  • An Innovator: constantly finding new ways to bring the best quality culture to audiences; working with the arts sector as partner and acting as a hot house for new talent.
  • Britain’s creative partner: a bold force in the UK creative sector as creator and commissioner, also a platform for new talent.
  • An investor in quality: we only present the highest quality arts and culture programming, crafted by skilled production teams and shared with all audiences.
  • Bringing the nation together: like no other we create and amplify moments in arts and culture, cutting through with a broad audience.

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