Social Sciences and BBC Ideas launch four new short films in partnership

Four exciting short films that take new research ideas – as well as fresh perspectives on older ones – to new audiences launch today as a result of a partnership between the Social Sciences Division and BBC Ideas.

Whether through animation or live action, the five-minute films cover topics that range from climate change and the environment to international development and anthropology, bringing academic research to life and providing key facts and takeaways.

BBC Ideas produces a variety of thought-provoking short films and videos aimed at a general audience of under-35s that are designed to offer a fresh perspective across a broad range of topics and issues.

Through this partnership, which is the first of its type for the University, BBC Ideas harnesses Oxford’s academic research excellence to explore ideas that challenge and inform their viewers, engaging new audiences with Social Sciences research.

The films are all available to watch online now.

Five things you probably didn't know about periods

Menstruation is a natural process that affects half of the world’s population during their lives, but it’s little understood. Gabriella Kountourides, doctoral candidate at the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography dispels some of the myths around menstruation while shedding light on recent findings.

How the humble bean can help the world

Beans are highly versatile, nutritious, cheap and great for the environment because they can fix nitrogen from the atmosphere into the soil, reducing the need for synthetic fertilisers. TABLE, a global platform promoting critical thinking and debate on the future of food, explain why the future is looking decidedly “beany”. Read more about TABLE's insights on beans.


Why do some children beat the odds? 

Poet and writer Lemn Sissay explores why some children from tough backgrounds fare well, despite the odds being stacked against them early in life. Using research from Young Lives, who have been following 12,000 children in four different countries over 20 years, as a starting point, Lemn offers his take on three common factors that can help children beat the odds. Find out more about this Young Lives study.


How to keep cool (without heating the planet)

There are currently 1.6bn air conditioners in the world, and that number is expected to treble by 2050. Emissions from powering air-con appliances will also grow exponentially, according to research by the team at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment. What alternative solutions can help us cool our cities and homes?



The four films were selected from 80 expressions of interest submitted earlier this year by faculty members and research staff from departments across the Social Sciences Division, including fixed-term researchers and doctoral students. As well as presenting new, interesting or surprising takes on a topic, the ideas also needed to showcase Oxford’s excellent academic research, be of wide interest to under-35s and not have been covered by BBC Ideas before. To help researchers test whether their ideas were right for BBC Ideas, we suggested trying to encapsulate each into a simple headline and think about whether they could imagine discussing this topic with their friends at the pub.

Topics that felt current, without straying into news or current affairs, were particularly welcome, as were those with a timeless and universal feeling. Both BBC Ideas and the Social Sciences Division were also keen to represent diversity in all its forms.