Keele historian named BBC New Generation Thinker

Dr Ben Anderson, a Lecturer in Modern History at Keele University, has been announced as one of ten winners of the New Generation Thinkers 2018 scheme organised by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the BBC.

The New Generation Thinkers scheme, a partnership between BBC Radio 3, BBC Arts, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council, aims to develop a new generation of the brightest academics who can turn their university research and scholarly ideas into fascinating broadcasts.

Dr Anderson will develop programme-making ideas for BBC Radio 3 and have the chance to appear regularly on the show, as well as contributing to wider media through the AHRC. 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 New Generation Thinkers were selected from hundreds of applications from academics at the start of their careers who have a passion for communicating their work and a skill for making complex areas of study engaging, accessible, and enlightening. Dr Anderson took part in a four-month selection process, including a series of day-long workshops at the BBC in Salford and London, and has already gone through training and development with the AHRC and will spend a year being mentored by producers from BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking programme.

Dr Anderson’s research focuses on outdoor leisure activities and explores what happens when urban cultures emerge in rural spaces, how and why conflicts emerged amongst those involved, and what this can tell us about European urbanism more broadly. Where appropriate, he explores the benefits of applying ideas gained from cultural geography and leisure studies to questions of historical change.

Dr Anderson said:

“I am really delighted to win this title and to be one of the ten chosen to take part in this. I’ve enjoyed the workshops I’ve taken part in so far, and the people I’ve had the opportunity to meet. I’m looking forward to turning my ideas into a radio programme and using my research in this unique way. We’ll see what happens, but I’m enthusiastic about my programme idea - using mountaineers to chart the history of a politics of risk and danger, all whilst climbing a route in North Wales.”

Professor Andrew Thompson, Chief Executive of the AHRC, said:

“This scheme is all about helping the next generation of academics 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 AHRC’s major vehicles for engaging 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.”