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Calling New Generation Thinkers

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Matthew Dodd | 16:49 UK Time, Thursday, 1 December 2011

Radio 3's head of speech programmes introduces Round 2 of the New Generation Thinkers scheme 

Day-in, day-out Radio 3 calls on the knowledge, expertise and charisma of Britain’s diverse university researchers. They appear as guests on Night Waves, advise us on our special projects like Mozart or Chopin and they present some of our flagship features. Twelve months ago BBC Radio 3 created a unique way of formalising our relationship with universities - the result is New Generation Thinkers.

We have a track record of developing new talent, from commissioning the most amount of new composers and their works to running schemes like New Generation Artists and World Routes Academy. And so last March, I and some colleagues sat in a rather dingy conference room in BBC Bush House looking at the first 15 finalists of Radio 3’s New Generation Thinkers scheme – and I don’t mind admitting I felt incredibly excited. All were academics at the start of their career, and they’d fought off competition from over a thousand other applicants to attend a workshop about broadcasting ideas and new research. Their energy, the range of their expertise and their readiness to engage with broadcasting left me feeling incredibly optimistic.

When we unveiled our final 10 winners several months later, there was so much interest in our choice that the Guardian put a photo of them on their front page.


Since then our NGT’s have made regular live appearance on Night Waves, taken part in our Free Thinking festival of ideas, pitched ideas for documentaries and presented their own editions of The Essay.  And before they started, some had never set foot in a radio studio!


We’ve now launched the second year of the scheme – and there’s just a few days to go before the deadline for applications. Our partner is the Arts and Humanities Research Council which funds much of academic research into the arts – and it’s through their vitally important connections with the university sector that we try to get the word out to people that they can apply


This year we’re delighted to be joined by the people behind BBC Two’s The Review Show to see if we can develop some of the ideas for television.

 One set of people who may regret all this are my children. They will remember with frustration the sight of their father, head continuously buried in a  stream of NGT application forms at the breakfast table, distractedly handing over toast and jars of peanut butter without really looking up, ignoring their shouts for more milk, smiling to myself about the inventiveness of yet another applicant.

So if you know of someone who’s at the start of their academic career in the arts or humanities, from PhD students onwards, tell them about the New Generation Thinkers scheme. Persuade them to apply. If you’re an academic yourself – follow the links on the AHRC website - we’d love to hear from you. You have until 7th December. But just don’t mention it to my kids…


  Photo of the 2011 New Generation Thinkers


The 2011 New Generation Thinkers



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