Department of Political Science


Dr Jeffrey Howard named as a AHRC/BBC 'New Generation Thinker 2019'

1 March 2019

Ten researchers from across the UK have been announced as ‘New Generation Thinkers’ by BBC Radio 3, BBC Arts, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) today.

Dr Jeffrey Howard, Lecturer in Political Theory at the Department of Political Science, is one of the ten researchers chosen. He is investigating free speech and its limits in the digital era, exploring how best to combat expression that incites violence, spreads dangerous lies, and inflames hatred. He is also working on the ethics of incarceration and the purpose of criminal punishment. 


"I'm so pleased to be given this opportunity," he said. "Political theorists investigate how we should think about, and respond to, some of the thorniest ethical challenges we face in public life. It would be strange not to try to communicate what we figure out to the citizens and policymakers actually tasked with overcoming these challenges. It is terrific that the BBC and AHRC are together enabling more academic research to get out into the public sphere. "

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. 

He will now have the opportunity to communicate his research by making radio and television programmes for the BBC, 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.

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. 


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

This four-month selection process included 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.