Episodes

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A Solution To Political Short-termism20210727Sangita Myska goes in search of the innovators who may hold the key to improving the way we live.

In this episode Sangita asks whether a Future Generations Commissioner is the answer to thinking sustainably.

She meets Sophie Howe, the world’s first Future Generations Commissioner. In Wales she has the power to “name and shame” public institutions that are not taking the long-term impact of policies into consideration.

We need to think more long-term to address the existential threats humanity faces. But is this the big idea that will break the cycle of political short-termism to safeguard the future?

Contributors include:

Dame Louise Casey, former Victims’ Commissioner.

Roman Krznaric, public philosopher and author of The Good Ancestor.

Simon Caney, professor of political theory at the University of Warwick.

Producer: Eve Streeter

A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4

Is a Future Generations Commissioner the answer to thinking sustainably?

Big ideas that might solve some of the biggest problems facing Britain today.

Ending Poverty20210310Sangita Myska goes in search of the innovators with big solutions to some of our most intractable problems.

Michael Tubbs believes the key to tackling poverty could be as simple as giving people money when they need it, with no strings attached.

He road-tested his guaranteed income scheme while he was mayor of Stockton California, and now thirty four other US Mayors are planning similar pilots.

But can the answer to poverty really be that straightforward?

Contributors include:

Emma, a participant in Covid Realities, a Nuffield Foundation funded project that's tracking how people on low incomes are faring in the pandemic.
Sir Julian Le Grand, Professor of Social Policy at the London School of Economics (LSE)
Miatta Fahnbulleh, Chief Executive of the New Economics Foundation
Julie McLachlan, Senior Manager in Economic Policy at North Ayrshire Council, and member of the steering group for feasibility of a Scottish Basic Income pilot.

Producer: Ellie Bury

Could ending poverty be as simple as giving people money with no strings attached?

Big ideas that might solve some of the biggest problems facing Britain today.

Future Proofing Our Schools20210324In this episode, Sangita Myska asks whether a school dubbed the 'school with no rules' is what our children need to be ready for the 21st century? 

The 'Agora' school in the Netherlands has torn up the rule book to help its kids face the challenges of the future. Rob Houben, is the manager of the school and the closest thing it has to a headmaster. Sangita speaks to him about running a school with no classrooms, no teachers and no formal class time, and takes his idea to a panel of experts to see whether it could work here in the UK.

Contributors:
Rob Houben, Manager at Agora School in Roermond, Netherlands
Peter Hyman, co-Director of Big Education , a new organisation with a mission to change the way we do education in this country
Sugata Mitra, Professor Emeritus at NIIT University, in Rajasthan, India and a serial innovator in education.
Iesha Small has 15 years' experience in the education sector.  She's currently Head of Change for Education at the Youth Endowment Fund.

Producer: Sarah Shebbeare

Can a school with no teachers or classes provide a model for the future?

Big ideas that might solve some of the biggest problems facing Britain today.

How To Stop Men Hurting Women20210303Sangita Myska goes in search of the innovators who think they hold the key to improving the way we live.

Jackson Katz believes abuse perpetrated by men against women can be prevented and ended, forever.

His idea starts with upending how we see the problem, “Violence against women is in fact a men's issue. The very act of calling rape or domestic violence a women's issue, shifts the focus of accountability and responsibility off of men and puts it onto women - which I consider a subtle form of victim blaming.”

His solution involves the bystander approach, where men make misogynist beliefs completely unacceptable.

To stress test Jackson's idea, Sangita is joined by a panel of experts: David Gadd, Professor of Criminology at the University of Manchester, Dr Olumide Adisa, Head of Centre for Abuse Research at the University of Suffolk and Chloe Bustin, Senior Advisor at the Behavioural Insights Team

Producer: Sarah Bowen

Sangita Myska meets Jackson Katz, an innovator bidding to change the world.

Big ideas that might solve some of the biggest problems facing Britain today.

Improving Outcomes For Children In Care20210331Sangita Myska goes in search of the innovators with big solutions to some of our most intractable problems.

Emmanuel Akpan Inwang was teaching in a Birmingham state school when he became aware of the worrying statistics about how looked after children fare in the world. He became convinced that a model of children's home used in Germany and Denmark, with family life and education at its heart, held the key to improving things in the UK.

After years of research and fundraising his first home is opening in South London later this year and he's planning to open more.

But has he got the right focus and is this model right for the UK?

Contributors include:

Anne Longfield, who has just completed her six year tenure as Children's Commissioner for England

Mark Kerr, CEO of The Centre for Outcomes of Care, a research charity that focuses on improving outcomes for children and families. He also oversees practice at two Children's Homes

Elaine Hamilton, Service Manager for Nether Johnstone House – a children's home in Scotland, and trustee of the Social Pedagogy Professional Association

Is a model of children's home used in Germany and Denmark the key to improving outcomes?

Big ideas that might solve some of the biggest problems facing Britain today.

Is Thinking About Divorce The Secret To A Happy Marriage?20210720Sangita Myska goes in search of the innovators with big solutions to our most intractable problems.

In this episode, Sangita meets Harvard law professor Jeannie Suk Gersen who believes pre-marriage mediation is the key to a lasting relationship.

If you want to understand what makes a marriage work, says Jeannie, you should think about how a marriage ends. Divorce makes the rules of marriage explicit, and understanding those rules can help us build better relationships from the beginning.

But is it possible to predict future tensions and sidestep them in this way? Sangita puts Jeannie’s idea to a panel of experts to see if it’s a model for marriage that could work for British couples.

Contributors include:

Jeannie Suk Gersen, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School.

Davina Katz, Senior Partner of Katz Partners, a divorce and family law firm specialising in high net worth and complex cases.

Dr Raksha Pande, Senior Lecturer at the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology at Newcastle University and author of Learning to Love: Arranged Marriages and the British Indian Diaspora.

Andrew G Marshall, marital therapist and host of The Meaningful Life podcast

Producer: Eve Streeter

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4

Jeannie Suk Gersen who claims pre-marriage mediation is the key to a lasting relationship.

Big ideas that might solve some of the biggest problems facing Britain today.

Keeping Humans Relevant At Work20210317Sangita Myska goes in search of the innovators with big solutions to some of our most intractable problems.

The World Economic Forum says the workforce is automating faster than expected, displacing a predicted 85 million jobs in the next five years. Tech entrepreneur Charles Towers Clark believes that taking power away from bosses and giving it to employees is the key to humans surviving in the workplace of the future.

He did it in his own company and now he thinks all companies need to do it as a matter of urgency.

But is this the key to keeping humans relevant at work?

Contributors include:

Daniel Susskind, a Fellow in Economics at Oxford University and author of A World Without Work

Julian Birkinshaw, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at London Business School

Leena Nair, Chief Human Resources Officer and member of the Leadership Executive at Unilever

Producer: Ellie Bury

Is transferring power from bosses to employees the key to protecting jobs from automation?

Big ideas that might solve some of the biggest problems facing Britain today.

Sangita Myska goes in search of the innovators who think they hold the key to improving the way we live. From work to housing, from education to health, from the environment to the economy, Myska takes a deep dive into some of the biggest problems facing Britain today - and meets the people whose big ideas might solve them.

Meet the innovators bidding to change our world

Searching For Lasting Happiness20210224Sangita Myska goes in search of the innovators who think they hold the key to improving the way we live.
Each week, we hear from a different innovator trying to solve a different problem. You'll find out what motivates them, why they're tackling it, and what their solution is. We'll then stress test their idea with a panel of experts. 
In this we're tackling nothing less than the secret to lasting happiness. Our innovator is former Chief Business Officer for Google X, Mo Gawdat who says he has come up with a mathematical solution to happiness. 

Contributors include:
Prof. Laurie Santos, a cognitive scientist and Professor of Psychology at Yale University. 
Dr. Michael Plant, a moral philosopher who researches how to make people happier. He's the Founder-Director of the Happier Lives Institute and a post-doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Oxford
Emily Esfahani Smith, is the author of  'The Power of Meaning: Finding Fulfillment in a World Obsessed with Happiness'.

Find about more about Mo Gawdat by searching for the 'Slo Mo' podcast.

Producer: Sarah Shebbeare

Meet the innovators bidding to change our world

Big ideas that might solve some of the biggest problems facing Britain today.

01Keeping Whitney Out Of Jail20191230Jo Fidgen explores how we can stop women from going back into prison. There are around 4,000 women behind bars in England and Wales. They make up 5% of the total prison population. And yet their incarceration has an outsized impact on society. In the first of a new series, Jo Fidgen goes with a young woman who has been in and out of the criminal justice system to try to find out how different approaches could change things. They look at the kinds of local, community-based responses that are changing lives across the UK, as well as a more radical approach that calls into question assumptions about women and crime.

Producer: Ant Adeane

Positive Thinking

Positive Thinking. A new series from BBC Radio 4

02The New Seaside20191231The Victorian splendour of many of Britain’s coastal towns has long faded. Many of them rank among our most economically deprived communities. The Southend-born writer Farrah Jarral talks to people who believe in a brighter future by the seaside, including an entrepreneur with a vision for the Wirral. Is he our New Victorian?

Farrah Jarral goes in search of a brighter future for Britain's neglected seaside towns.

Positive Thinking

The Victorian splendour of many of Britain’s coastal towns has long faded. Many of them rank among our most economically deprived communities. The Southend-born writer Farrah Jarral talks to people who believe in a brighter future by the seaside, including an entrepreneur with a vision for the Wirral. Is he our New Victorian?

Farrah Jarral goes in search of a brighter future for Britain's neglected seaside towns.

03All Under One Roof?20200101Meet Stephen Burke.  He’s a man on a mission. He's identified two big problems: the lack of affordable housing for young people and and a growing sense of isolation amongst older people. He says he's got one big idea that could solve both problems. His aim is to grow the idea from local project to UK wide solution.
To do that he needs attitudes to change and Radio 4 has offered to help by putting the concept through their Ideas Lab.
Presenter: Sangita Myska
Producer: Sarah Shebbeare

Meet Stephen Burke. He's a man on a mission.

Positive Thinking

04Boomtown For Rats20200102Climate change has led to a rise in flooding. But it's not just about soggy sofas and insurance claims. The recent flooding in South Yorkshire has driven rats into homes, and rats, if unchecked, can lead to fire, damage to property and disease.

It's not just an environmental problem but a socio-economic one too. A reduction in waste collection and increase in fly tipping has led to a surge in infestations the length and breadth of Britain.

Rats and humans have lived side by side for millennia. Wherever we go, rats follow. But the fall-out can be devastating.

New Zealand is pioneering an ambitious - some say unrealistically utopian- plan to eradicate all mammal predators by 2050. As a starting point they have created Zealandia, a 225 hectare urban sanctuary outside Wellington, to which many of New Zealand's endangered species have been relocated. Zealandia is a zone without rats, stoats and possums.

But it's just the beginning. Within three decades, if the plan succeeds, every rat on the island will be dead. Predator Free 2050 has been a rallying call for conservationists and citizens inspired by a future vision which draws on New Zealand's past. Until the 13th century New Zealand had no predator mammals.

Rats have already been removed from Canna and the Shiant Islands, off the North West coast of Scotland and from Lundy island in the Bristol Channel but could they be eradicated in more densely populated areas on mainland Britain? If you've ever been overrun by rats, you might be hoping the answer is yes.

Presenter Krupa Padhy sits down with three speakers to solution proof the idea of a rat-free Britain.

Produced by Kate Bissell and Caitlin Smith

Photo credit: Vandy Pollard

Climate change is creating a boom town for rats. How should we tackle it?

Positive Thinking

CORRECTION: Contrary to the statement in this programme, rats do, in fact, have bladders.

05Tackling Food Waste2020010320200105 (R4)Broadcaster and journalist Fi Glover and digital advisor Gemma Milne examine some of the UK’s biggest problems and consult a jury of end users to determine the best solution for all.

In this edition, the team are on the hunt for a radical solution to the UK’s problem of large scale supermarket food waste. Britain throws out over 10 million tonnes of food each year – which is more than enough to fill the Royal Albert Hall over 100 times.

Three advocates present their plans directly to our panel of consumers who rigorously interrogate them and ultimately decide on the solution they believe will have the greatest impact.

Under consideration are a proposal to remove “use by ? and “sell by ? dates on products in order to change consumer habits, food recycling through “no waste ? shops on every high street and “gleaning ? on farms, and an algorithmic tech solution that introduces dynamic pricing to the retailer’s shelves.

Fi and Gemma work with the panel to judge each solution, and together they have to reach a consensus on the best way forward.

Produced by Anishka Sharma and Sasha Edye-Lindner
A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4

A team of end users stress-test three radical solution to the problem of food waste.

Positive Thinking

Broadcaster and journalist Fi Glover and digital advisor Gemma Milne examine some of the UK’s biggest problems and consult a jury of end users to determine the best solution for all.

Under consideration are a proposal to remove “use by” and “sell by” dates on products in order to change consumer habits, food recycling through “no waste” shops on every high street and “gleaning” on farms, and an algorithmic tech solution that introduces dynamic pricing to the retailer’s shelves.

07Curing Our Productivity Problem20200630Working to live, not living to work

Meet the innovators bidding to change our world with one brilliant idea.

Sangita Myska takes a deep dive into some of the biggest problems facing Britain today - and meets the people whose big ideas might solve them. 
This week, Positive Thinking tackles Britain's problem with productivity with help from Professor Nick Bloom who says he has a solution for office based workers AND the evidence to prove it. 
Contributors include: 
Eddie Obeng, Director of the virtual business school Pentacle
Christy Johnson, Founder and CEO of Artemis Connection
Lynda Gratton, Professor at London Business School
Producer: Sarah Shebbeare

08Escaping Street Gangs20200707How can we help a teenager escape a street gang, forever?

Meet the innovators bidding to change our world with one brilliant idea.

Sangita Myska takes a deep dive into some of the biggest problems facing Britain today - and meets the people whose big ideas might solve them. 
This week, Positive Thinking looks at how to help teenagers escape street gangs, forever. 
It's estimated that over 26 thousand children between the age of 10 and 15 in England, belong to violent street gangs.  Fear, money, status and a lack of alternatives make it hard to get out.  But Karl Lokko, the former leader of a South London gang, says he's got a solution to the problem.
Additional contributors: 
Al Stinson, Counsellor for Youth Guidance programme Becoming a Man in Chicago, USA
Leroy Logan, former Superintendent with London's Metropolitan Police, and founder of teenage leadership programme Voyage Youth
Will Linden, from the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, a centre of expertise in tackling violence
Producers: Sarah Shebbeare and Sam Peach

09Closing The Attainment Gap20200714How tearing up the school calendar could help kids fulfill their true potential.

Meet the innovators bidding to change our world with one brilliant idea.

Sangita Myska takes a deep dive into some of the biggest problems facing Britain today - and meets the people whose big ideas might solve them. 
This week in Positive Thinking, we tackle how to close the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their classmates. 
The stats are shocking: by the time a disadvantaged child leaves primary school, he or she will be 9 months behind their classmates in their learning. That gap rises to a year and a half, by the time that same child leaves secondary school. We look to Michigan in America's Mid West for solutions on how to tear up the school calendar to help kids fulfill their true potential. 
Contributors: 
David Hornack, Superintendent for Holt Public Schools in Michigan in the US.
Tracy Argent, Headteacher at Woolmore Primary School in Tower Hamlets, London. 
Revd Steve Chalke, Founder of the Oasis Academy Trust
Ros McMullen, Education Consultant
Rosie Murray West, School governor and personal finance journalist
Producers: Sarah Shebbeare and Sam Peach

10The Employment Conundrum20200721Sangita Myska sets out to find the world's brightest ideas that could make Britain better.

Meet the innovators bidding to change our world with one brilliant idea.

Sangita Myska takes a deep dive into some of the biggest problems facing Britain today - and meets the people whose big ideas might solve them.

This week, as Britain stares down the barrel of a historic unemployment crisis, it’s time to figure out how to make work work.

From Germany, there’s an old idea that’s worked for centuries - but never been tried here - that brings the heavy hand of the state and a sense of communal sacrifice to bear in staving off layoffs.

But are we thinking about this all wrong? Sangita also explores the possibility that what we need to be more worried about is how mass unemployment creates a labour market that exploits workers and pays poverty wages - something a new generation of tech savvy collectives have a plan to prevent.

Presenter: Sangita Myska
Producers: Tara Holmes and Robert Nicholson
Executive Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4

11Ending Hiring Discrimination20200728Sangita Myska takes a deep dive into some of the biggest problems facing Britain today - and meets the people whose big ideas might solve them.

This week, as a political sea change shines fresh light on the prejudice black Britons can face when applying for jobs, it’s a chance to look at ways to address hiring discrimination. And the UK has a high profile petri dish - the world of professional football, which has long failed to appoint black coaches, managers and executives in proportions to match the players who have proved themselves on the pitch.

Looking at two ideas that aim to change that - a new push to recruit black owners to buy football clubs, and an equality charter that hopes to change the cultures of clubs and national bodies - Sangita explores the obstacles to bringing equality into the top levels of football and asks if, with the right innovation, football could become a positive example for other industries.

Presenter: Sangita Myska
Producers: Tara Holmes and Robert Nicholson
Executive Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4

Sangita Myska sets out to find the world's brightest ideas that could make Britain better.

Meet the innovators bidding to change our world with one brilliant idea.