What is it like to live without taste & smell?

Professor Barry Smith explains, on the BBC World Service, what it’s like to live without taste and smell, the science behind it and what can be done to help sufferers. Meanwhile, on the Kitchen Cabinet, BBC Radio 4’s weekly show about food, he talks about rice, tofu and smoked-milk ice cream.

The Director of the Institute of Philosophy and founder of the Centre for the Study of the Senses, continues to explain on BBC2’s ‘Inside the Factory’ why fizzy drinks are so appealing & why we pair certain meat with certain sauces. Professor Smith also appears again on Kitchen Cabinet show, as he baffles experienced panellists with some taste experiments.

Russell Brand interviews Professor Barry Smith for his ‘Under the Skin’ podcast

Russell Brand and Professor Barry Smith discuss the latest on collaborative research between philosophers, neuroscientists and psychologists. They converse in detail about the misconception of the 5 senses and how we can improve our understanding. This podcast has had over 50,000 views online and is continuing to receive positive responses.

Watch #42 ‘Under the Skin’ with Russell Brand here:

AHRC launches £80m creative industry research programme

As part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, a record £80m-plus is being invested to create a step-change in collaboration between the country’s internationally-renowned creative industries and universities across the UK.

The Creative Industries Clusters Programme, which will start in 2018, will help catalyse economic growth and provide the skills needed for the jobs of the future. It will find innovative ways to identify opportunities for new products and services at an early stage and get them on the road to success.

Led by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the Programme will support eight Research and Development (R&D) Partnerships between industry and a group of universities to respond to challenges identified by the creative industries in their cluster.

The R&D Partnerships will support ground-breaking innovation by companies of all sizes – from micro-businesses and start-ups to multinational corporations – so that they can prosper in the UK, ensuring this country benefits from their success and building on its global reputation as one of the world’s leading engines of creativity.

In parallel, a national Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre will be established to produce independent evidence and analysis for the industry and for policy-makers. The Centre will produce high-quality understanding of the creative industries, including how they are working together in clusters and across the wider economy, so that future policy and strategy can be informed by world-class insights to further accentuate success.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “The Creative Industries Clusters Programme will deliver a real boost to the country’s already burgeoning creative industries, help spread prosperity and grow the creative skills base across the UK. This type of collaboration between Government, businesses and universities is a perfect example of our Industrial Strategy in action.

“The UK’s creative industries are one of our fastest growing sectors, contributing nearly £90 billion to the economy, including more than £21 billion in export services, and employing more than two million people in creative occupations.

“They are among the industries of the future where British innovation has the potential to lead the world and we are determined to build on the sector’s many strengths, which is why we have committed to an early sector deal for the creative industries in our green paper.”

The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will invest £39m in the Programme until 2021, which will be matched by university and private sector funding that will take the total investment to at least £80 million.

Professor Andrew Thompson, Chief Executive of Arts and Humanities Research Council said: “The Creative Industries Clusters Programme will be the largest ever single investment in arts and humanities-led research and innovation. This investment is a welcome commitment to the creative industries as well as to the vital role research plays in innovation and generating commercial opportunities for UK PLC.

“The Programme will support long-term growth by producing a step-change in the development of innovative new products and services, the supply of high-value skills and the creation of new jobs.

“It will be a once-in-a-generation opportunity for those universities that are involved: this is a chance for them to show how they can play an essential role in the creative economy. They will be able to build on their creative industry networks – locally, nationally and internationally – at a scale not previously seen.”

Successful creative industries entrepreneur and recently appointed AHRC Creative Economy Champion, Professor Andrew Chitty, added: “From film, TV and games to design, architecture and fashion, the UK has one of the world’s most powerful, innovative and fastest growing creative economies, growing twice as fast as the wider economy in terms of both value and jobs. The creative industries are essential to the UK’s future prosperity.

“But as the sector continues to expand internationally and looks to adapt to new technologies and exploit new opportunities, skills gaps are becoming more evident; we need to develop our already highly creative workforce to make it fit for the future.”

“While providing the impetus for the creative industries to flourish and cement themselves across the UK’s nations and regions, this investment will drive a step change in creative R&D and expand international trade. It will also secure the UK’s global position as having the world’s leading creative industries.”

The call for proposals to the Creative Industries Clusters Programme funding will open in September. To give applicants time to prepare their bids, the first formal announcement has been made today in the form of a ‘pre-call’ announcement, (PDF, 221KB) which can be viewed on the AHRC website.

The call for proposals to host the Policy and Evidence Centre will go live in October.

Enquiries regarding this pre‐call should be directed to the AHRC Creative Clusters team:


Telephone: 01793 416060


Nicholas Shea, Professor of Philosophy at the Institute of Philosophy (IP), was interviewed by BBC Radio on themes arising from his AHRC research project at the IP and King’s College London. The programme, Habit, explores the contrast between habitual behaviour and taking decisions using conscious deliberate reasoning. It was broadcast as part of the long-running series The Why Factor on the BBC World Service and is available as a podcast here:

Making a Difference

Patrik Svensson is Professor of Humanities and Information Technology at Umeå University and Visiting Professor of Digital Humanities at University of California at Los Angeles. For this year’s Being Human Festival he is the organizer of a conversation on “Making a real difference”. We approached him to ask a few questions.




Why the conversation?

Let me first say that I’m very excited about the event. While I am very appreciative of work done in the established disciplines, the need for humanities-based action has really grown on me. There is a great deal of power in the humanities that could be unlocked, I think. The humanities often end up in outside position, which in some ways is productive, but also hinders us from actively engaging with societal, cultural and technological issues and challenges in ways that would benefit our students, ourselves and the world. This is not about giving up a critical role or succumbing to external pressures to be useful, but rather to follow a humanistic ethos, take responsibility and further our research and teaching.

What does it mean to make a real difference?

I hope that this is what we will find out through the conversation, but for me it is about taking the knowledge and competence of the humanities very seriously and thinking about how this can be part of attempting to solve real-world challenges. This is not about just handing over ready-made journal articles to external partners or the humanities serving as window dressing, but rather about being involved in collaborative processes where conceptual thinking, critical perspectives and making come together. Humanists can take a lead or be high-value and confident partners. There is not one model, of course, and I am not saying that there is not good work of this kind already going on, but we need to scale humanities involvement up which also means that new practices, platforms and understandings need to be developed inside and outside the humanities. It is a matter of changing how we think about ourselves and others, and also about our partners engaging with us full on and with respect.

A two-hour conversation?

Yes! I think the format will work very well. It will be a semi-structured dialogue between the five people on stage in the magnificent Senate Room in the Senate House. The audience will be asked to participate and brief recorded skype interviews will be incorporated into the presentation. The central question is how human and humanistic knowledge make a real difference. Key issues to be discussed include the environment, race, austerity, neuroscience and philosophy, and the digital. I have organized many events and conversations, and I can honestly say that the caliber and intensity of these people and the format surpass anything with which I have been involved earlier. It is a dream come true.

Who are the participants?

 Natalie Jeremijenko’s work as a scholar and artist on the environment is brilliant and persistently innovative. She commands and deserves attention. David Theo Goldberg is a leading intellectual and scholar on race, ethnicity and critical theory and one of the most prevalent champions of the humanities. Gary Dirks, who was an executive at BP for thirty years in Asia and China, calls for the humanities to take the lead approaching global sustainability with a low-key, insistent fervor. Barrý Smith is a fiercely sharp philosopher and cognitive scientist who calls for the coming together of philosophy and neuroscience. Gargi Bhattacharyya has few peers in the way her scholarship acutely addresses key challenges in our world – including race, sexuality, trafficking, austerity and the war on terror. How can her–and their generally–work inform action?

 The event will also incorporate brief pre-recorded skype interludes with participants who are equally important, but not present physically. Allison Guess’s research focuses on critical Black geographies and she is placed in the program of Earth and Environmental Sciences at The Graduate Center at City University New York. Matt Ratto, Director of the Critical Making Lab at the University of Toronto, explores the intersections between digital technologies and the human life world. Stefanie Wuschitz is an artist and researcher at the Vienna University of Technology who does work on feminist hackerspaces, open source technology and data publics.

 There will be plenty of time for open discussion. I hope to see you all there!

Sign up for the event on the 21st Nov, 4pm, at Senate House: Making a Real Difference


What is the nature of wine perception, and is wine flavour objective?

What is the nature of wine perception, and is wine flavour objective?

Professor Barry C. Smith, Director of the Institute of Philosophy and co-director and founder of the Centre for the Study of the Senses (pictured), was interviewed by wine writer and wine columnist for The Sunday Express Jamie Goode, for Jamie Goode’s Wine Blog.

JG: What can your discipline, philosophy, give to neuroscience that can help here? Or would you consider that perhaps your discipline has changed a bit?

BS: Our discipline has changed a bit. We have always been interested in the nature of experience and the nature of perception. If you ask philosophers what their core business is, it is objectivity and subjectivity. This is one of the reasons I have got into this area. All the great wine critics go on and on telling you things, and then they say, of course, taste is subjective and it is all a matter of individual opinions. And then they tell you which vintage is better than another, and which domain is better. And I think, hold on, I thought it was all subjective and a matter of opinion. So is this just autobiography? If so, why should I care about you? They don’t really believe that it is entirely subjective.

To keep reading click here.

AHRC Science in Culture Theme- The Lived Environment Workshop

AHRC Science in Culture Theme- The Lived Environment Workshop

Storify summary of a two day interdisciplinary workshop organised by the AHRC Science in Culture Theme at the Royal Society, London, 19-21st May.

Orchid Observers- New Citizen Science project

Orchid Observers- New Citizen Science project

A new citizen science project, Orchid Observers has been launched by Zooniverse and the Natural History Museum as part of the AHRC Large Grant Constructing Scientific Communities: Citizen Science in the 19th and 21st centuries. The project will look at the impact of climate change on the flowering time of UK orchids.

This new project asks citizen scientists to take part by taking photographs of wild orchids during spring and summer 2015 and uploading them to the project website. Participants can also help by carrying out online research to identify uploaded orchid photographs and to extract data from the Natural History Museum’s 15,000 specimens gathered over the past 300 years. By examining the results of the photographic and online research, scientists can look at flowering times from past and present to assess the effects of climate change.

For further information on the project and how to take part, please visit the Zooniverse and Natural History Museum websites.

The Orchid Observers project has also been featured on BBC Earth