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Cardiff University academic chosen for New Generation Thinkers scheme

5 April 2022

Jim Scown

A Cardiff University academic is among the latest cohort of New Generation Thinkers.

Every year, BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) hold a nationwide search for academics with new ideas that will resonate with a wider audience. These New Generation Thinkers represent some of the brightest scholars in the country and their research has the potential to redefine our understanding of an array of topics.

One of the ten chosen this year is Dr Jim Scown, an Honorary Research Fellow at Cardiff University’s School of English, Communication and Philosophy. His research focuses on soils, the diverse lives they hold, and the stories and ideas that give them their place in human history and culture. He is writing a book on soil, people and land, bringing science, history and philosophy together with perspectives from people working with soils today.

Jim, who works for the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission (FFCC), completed postdoctoral research at the University looking at how coronavirus and the pandemic are influencing the ways we imagine the future.

In his role as Farming Transition co-lead, he helps lead the FFCC’s work on a sustainable and just future for farmers across the four nations of the UK.

He said: “I’m delighted to have been named as a BBC New Generation Thinker. I find the contradictions in the ways people think about soils - sacred yet ordinary, dirty but nourishing, inert and alive - offer fascinating insights into the relations between humans and the rest of nature. I’m looking forward to sharing some of this research on BBC R3 over the next year.”

Names of the 2022 New Generation Thinkers were announced as part of a special episode of Free Thinking on BBC Radio 3, introduced by Laurence Scott. Featuring all ten researchers, the episode is now available to listen to on demand on BBC Sounds and as an Arts & Ideas podcast.

The group will be provided with unique access to training and support as well as the opportunity to make programmes for the channel communicating their research. New Generation Thinkers alumni have gone on to become prominent public figures in their fields, as well as the face of major documentaries, TV series, and regular figures in public debate.

Professor Christopher Smith, AHRC Executive Chair said: “We are delighted to join again with the BBC to support the New Generation Thinkers scheme - one of the major ways that AHRC inspires arts and humanities researchers across the UK to engage with a wider audience.

“From fascinating insights into art, literature and history to the most challenging problems of our day, this is research at its most vital and compelling.”

Previous Cardiff University New Generation Thinkers include Dr Emily Cock and Susan Greaney.

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