News

Written on 25 Oct 2021

New podcast series offers interdisciplinary answers to today’s big questions

Teaser episode released with Professor Diane Coyle, Professor Paul Seabright and host, Rory Cellan-Jones.

Crossing Channels, launching today, is a podcast series produced jointly between the Bennett Institute for Public Policy, University of Cambridge, and the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST). It will aim to offer interdisciplinary perspectives on significant challenges facing society today. Researchers from both sides of the Channel, and from widely differing disciplinary backgrounds, will discuss different approaches to explore complex challenges and offer policy solutions.

Rory Cellan-Jones, previously BBC News’ technology correspondent, hosts the monthly podcast. He'll be joined by experts who will bring their expertise to bear on questions ranging from government decision-making to the ageing of society.

An introduction to the thinking behind the Crossing Channels podcast series, and the debates listeners can look forward to joining, features Diane Coyle, co-director of the Bennett Institute, and Paul Seabright, former Director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, and a Visiting Fellow of All Souls College, University of Oxford. [Listen]

“Both the Bennett Institute and IAST conduct interdisciplinary research into the major challenges facing the world, helping to inform public and private sector organisations about how to address them. This is an opportunity to discuss complex themes such as climate change, democracy, public reasoning and social infrastructure, including real ideas and solutions that can help policymakers and decision-makers take action and make positive change,” says Coyle.

Big questions coming up in the series include “Can Artificial Intelligence be ethical?” with Bennett Institute’s visiting fellow Verity Harding, and Toulouse behavioural economists Daniel L. Chen, and Jean-Françoise Bonnefon, and “What can be done to increase happiness in old age – and whose responsibility is it?” with Cambridge’s Professor Theresa Marteau and Toulouse Associate Professor, Jonathan Stieglitz.

“One of the exciting things in this series is that often you don’t know what kind of questions will turn out to have public policy importance. Often the foundational research is done before the practical applications become clear. Interdisciplinary research works on problems rather than tools – you need tools to work on the problem but you don’t know what tools you need until you’ve looked at the problem,” says Seabright.

The first Crossing Channels episode is released on Monday 1 November looking at the question, “Why has it become so hard to run government; the role of civil servants and decision-making in society today.”

Subscribe to the Crossing Channels podcast feed, download a new episode at the start of the month and tweet us your thoughts at @BennettInst and @IASToulouse.