Green Thinking podcasts bring new approach to climate questions

In the hands of trees growing seedlings. Bokeh green Background Female hand holding tree on nature field grass Forest conservation concept

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A new AHRC and BBC Radio 3 podcast series explores issues linking climate challenge and society, in conversation with some of the UK’s leading researchers.

2021 is an important year for tackling the climate and nature emergency. The eyes of the world turn to Glasgow for the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) summit in November.

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC),  part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), has teamed up with BBC Radio 3 to create Green Thinking, a new series of podcasts. They aim to help stimulate the conversations and action needed to meet the global challenge.

The Green Thinking podcasts explore a wide range of intriguing topics associated with the climate challenge, through fresh informal conversations with some of the UK’s leading researchers and experts. The series launches on 3 June 2021, just ahead of World Environment Day (5 June 2021).

Fresh thinking blurs disciplines

Climate change touches on every aspect of our lives, presenting societal and cultural questions as much as technical ones. Success will depend not only on technologies and systems, but on how we:

  • tell stories
  • bring together new ideas
  • mobilise communities.

Drawing on the latest interdisciplinary thinking, the podcasts will provoke, inform and engage. They will explore:

  • cutting-edge research into unexpected angles
  • issues related to the global challenge
  • where solutions could lie.

Green Thinking aims to engage and inspire listeners to discover and do more, to help build a brighter future. Covering topics from ecological emergencies to the future of fashion, and from environmental management in conflict zones to the world of work.

New generation thinkers

Building on the success of Radio 3’s New Thinking podcasts, Green Thinking will be hosted by:

  • Professor Des Fitzgerald from the University of Exeter
  • Dr Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough from Durham University.

Both have previously been part of the ‘New Generation Thinkers’ scheme. This was a joint BBC and AHRC programme, where early-career academics bring the best of university research and ideas to a broad audience through the media and public engagement.

Professor Des Fitzgerald says:

I’m incredibly honoured to be part of the Green Thinking podcast. It shows how critical arts and humanities research is absolutely laser-focused on some of the most pressing real-world issues facing us all today, including the consequences of climate change and global heating.

If delegates at COP26 listen to the podcast, and I really hope they do, they’ll be able to help themselves to some really transformative, practical insights on some of the major topics of the conference.

AHRC’s Head of Public Engagement, Mike Collins, explains:

Some of the greatest insights and advances come where different disciplines meet. For example, the power of storytelling combined with years of careful research has created a tipping point in how the world sees plastic pollution and its impact on our oceans in particular.

Tapping into the work supported across UKRI, from engineering and medicine to social science and the arts and humanities, the Green Thinking series aims to inform and inspire a growing audience of listeners concerned about the climate-related challenges ahead.


The podcast series is launched on 3 June 2021 with a special Free Thinking programme on BBC Radio 3, just ahead of World Environment Day. The series comprises 26 episodes, the majority of which are 26 minutes long, and will run through to COP26 in November.

The series will be available via BBC Radio 3’s Arts and Ideas podcast feed, with some broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

The first episodes will include:

Artistic reflections of the environmental crisis: 3 June 2021, Radio 3, 22:00

What it means to make art about the environment and whether artists can save the planet. Dr Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough (University of Durham) talks to:

  • Wayne Binitie (Royal College of Art)
  • Dr Jenna Ashton (University of Manchester)
  • Hans Ulrich Obrist (Artistic Director of the Serpentine Gallery)
  • artist Lucy Neal.

Future of work: 4 June 2021, BBC Arts and Ideas podcast

The future of work in a post-Covid-19 world and the implications for our environment. Professor Des Fitzgerald (University of Exeter) talks to:

  • Dr Alexander Douglas (University of St Andrews)
  • Dr Jane Parry (University of Southampton).

Climate and conflict: 5 June 2021, BBC Arts and Ideas podcast

Is global warming increasingly to blame for conflict and disputes over land and resources? Professor Des Fitzgerald (University of Exeter) talks to:

  • Dr Ayesha Siddiqi (University of Cambridge)
  • Professor Jan Selby (University of Sheffield).

Seascapes and blue gold: 8 June 2021, BBC Arts & Ideas podcast

The impact of the climate on the world’s oceans. Dr Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough (University of Durham) talks to:

  • Dr Emma McKinley (University of Cardiff)
  • Professor George Revill (Open University).

Last updated: 10 June 2021

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