Dr Darragh McGee from the University of Bath’s Department for Health has been selected as one of this year’s 2020 ‘New Generation Thinkers’, in an announcement by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) made today (Thursday 26 March).
This year marks the tenth anniversary of the scheme, during which 100 early career arts and humanities researchers have had unique access to training and support from AHRC and the BBC. New Generation Thinkers alumni have gone on to become prominent public figures in their field as well as the face of major documentaries, TV series, and regular figures in public debate.
From our shifting attitudes to waste and gambling, to the true implications of humanitarian aid and the Norwegian black metal scene and toxic masculinity, this year’s researchers will have the prestigious opportunity to communicate their research by making programmes for BBC radio and television.
Dr McGee, who is the first researcher from the University of Bath to be successful in becoming a New Generation Thinker, will focus on the impacts of online gambling in particular on young men; a topic about which he has generated significant attention via media over the past 12 months, including prominent and exclusive coverage in The Guardian.
His research, funded by the British Academy, traces the shifting cultural significance of gambling in late capitalist societies, focusing in particular on the ways in which smartphone technologies are transforming young people’s relationship with online gambling. This work also examines how online gambling poses new risks to individual and community well-being, challenging public health policymakers to rethink the safeguarding and education of young people in the digital era.
Dr Darragh McGee explained: “I am really excited to be part of the New Generation Thinkers Scheme, which has served as a platform for so many early career scholars to break down barriers between academia and the media and to showcase the importance of research to a public audience. I look forward to working with the AHRC and BBC media to develop impactful programme ideas that showcase my ongoing research on the public health implications of new gambling technologies, particularly for a new generation of young people.”
Head of Department for Health, Dr Fiona Gillison added: "This is a fantastic accolade for Darragh and an excellent opportunity for him to make further important impacts with his research into the effects of online gambling, which through his efforts with media and public engagement have already been widely covered over the past 12 months. As a Department we really look forward to following Darragh's progress throughout his involvement with this initiative, using his experiences to inspire others and, of course, tuning in when he makes his BBC debut later in the year presenting his ideas."
Professor David Galbreath, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, said: "This is an incredible result for Darragh, for the Faculty and for the University more generally. It builds on the important research he's been doing over recent years into the effects of online gambling, and will offer him a high-profile platform to share these findings with a wider public via the BBC."
Professor Andrew Thompson, Executive Chair of the AHRC, said: “Since 2010 the New Generation Thinkers scheme has developed ten groups of academics to bring the best of university research and scholarly ideas to a broad audience through media and public engagement.
“Now, more than ever, we need to share the rich and diverse array of research in the world of arts and humanities with the public and open the window to a world of research that will amaze and engage.”
Throughout the year, the new cohort will work with BBC producers to develop their ideas to showcase a vibrant mix of research from across the arts and humanities that will capture the public imagination. Some are asking us to look at things differently and challenge our assumptions, such as exploring how humanitarian aid can be bad if not approached carefully, while others will examine questions about our shifting attitudes towards challenges we face, including Darragh’s ideas around how smartphone technologies are transforming young people’s relationship with online gambling today.
Alan Davey, Controller, BBC Radio 3, said: “At Radio 3 we want as many people as possible to have life enhancing cultural experiences, especially in these extraordinary times. Since the New Generation Thinkers launch ten years ago in 2010, it has changed the nature of academic debate on Radio 3. The scheme has supported and nurtured some extraordinary talent, and given the broadcasters of tomorrow a platform to spotlight fresh ways of thinking about both the past and present.
“Looking to the future, I can’t wait to hear what new ideas and research this year’s cohort will bring to our listeners in the Free Thinking discussions and Essays we broadcast for BBC Radio 3 and the Arts & Ideas podcast. I hope their experience of working with us on shaping ideas feeds into their teaching and helps them reach a wider public. Now, more than ever, the pubic need new dynamic ideas from dynamic great minds.”
The New Generation Thinkers scheme is one of the major ways the AHRC engages the public with the inspiring research taking place across the UK. It’s a chance for early career researchers, with support and training provided by AHRC and the BBC, to cultivate the skills to communicate their research findings to those outside the academic community; helping the next generation of researchers 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.
New Generation Thinkers are also exemplars for AHRC’s academic community, leading the way for other researchers and inspiring other arts and humanities researchers to get into public engagement.
The successful ten 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.