The Conversation

From April 2017, Josephine Lethbridge will be The Conversation’s Interdisciplinary Editor, funded by the ISRF. Josephine’s role will include working with scholars at The Conversation’s member universities, as well as past and present Fellows of the ISRF, to bring interdisciplinary social research to millions of readers worldwide.

Any ISRF Fellows wishing to pitch an idea for an article to Josephine, or simply interested in knowing more, should contact her directly at

Recent Interdisciplinary Articles at The Conversation

Stop mythologising the Amazon – it just excuses rampant commercial exploitation
Stephen Nugent | Goldsmiths, University of London

The Amazon, perhaps more than any other region of the globe, has consistently been idealised and mythologised. This is true both of its societies, often envisioned as “lost tribes in the forest”, and the “raw green hell” of its environment. Although it has been incorporated into the modern world system since the 16th century, Amazonia is still widely regarded as a lush, beckoning frontier of untapped natural resources.

Read On
How to digitally disentangle after a break up – some new rules
Wendy Moncur & Daniel Herron | University of Dundee

Digital technologies can be great when looking for love, and displaying togetherness to the world. But for those who are facing Valentine’s Day with a newly broken heart, we offer a more useful gift than roses or chocolates. Inspired by Dua Lipa’s pithy advice in her hit song, New Rules, we have produced a practical checklist for how to deal with the digital aftermath of a romantic break up.

Read On
Do we want to live in a world where our ‘best friends’ are AI chatbots?
Trudy Barber | University of Portsmouth

Before the internet, before smart phones, teenagers and young people would seek out quizzes in comics, read problem pages in girls magazinesand watch television for advice on how to be themselves. Young people would share a love of pop stars, fashion and musical trends with each other in attempt to find an identity as they were growing up.

Today, we are reportedly in times of extended adolescence, with young people studying for longer and delaying marriage and parenthood. Additionally, emerging technologies are offering new ways to uphold and even make new friends – on social media for example. Mobile media means we have more time to experiment with identity online and explore a sense of self, wherever we may be. And friendships, as always, are a key part of that.

Read On
Robots, kittens and Netflix: Turkish curbs on the media reach ludicrous levels
Ozge Ozduzen | Lund University

Regulation and censorship mechanisms have recently reached absurd levels in Turkey. Two stark recent examples illustrate the banality of the recent creeping controls.

On February 6, a robot was reformatted in Ankara because it warned the Turkish Transport, Maritime and Communications Minister Ahmet Arslan to speak more slowly during his speech. Upon interruption, Arslan, jokingly, said: “Dear friends, it is clear someone should get the robot under control, do what is necessary.”

Ironically, the well-functioning robot was instantly controlled at an event that aimed to celebrate the internet and technology; it was muted for the rest of the day.

Read On
What did Jesus wear?
Joan Taylor | King’s College London

Over the past few decades, the question of what Jesus looked like has cropped up again and again. Much has been made of a digital reconstruction of a Judaean man created for a BBC documentary, Son of God, in 2001. This was based on an ancient skull and, using the latest technology (as it was), shows the head of a stocky fellow with a somewhat worried expression.

Rightly, the skin tone is olive, and the hair and beard black and shortish, but the nose, lips, neck, eyes, eyelids, eyebrows, fat cover and expression are all totally conjectural. Putting flesh on ancient skulls is not an exact science, because the soft tissue and cartilage are unknown.

Read On
Paris flooding harks back to one of the great breakthroughs in hydrology
Simon J Dixon | University of Birmingham

The city of Paris was recently on high flood alert after a deluge of rain. Parisians looked on with increasing concern as the River Seine continued to rise, the water levels creeping up the legs of the Zouave statue on the Pont d’Alma bridge in central Paris, which has served as an unofficial flood gauge since the devastating 1910 floods in the city. Thankfully, the immediate threat to Paris appears to be receding, although many other towns along the Seine are experiencing widespread flooding.

This year’s particularly severe flooding on the Seine demonstrates how complex the relationship between rainfall and flooding is. It also harks back to a critical development in the history of flood hydrology and the water cycle: because it was the Seine’s rise and fall, in response to heavy rain, that inspired one of the great breakthroughs in hydrology.

Read On
Josephine Lethbridge
Interdisciplinary Editor

About Josephine

Josephine Lethbridge became Interdisciplinary Editor at The Conversation after over three years as the UK’s initial Arts + Culture Editor. As well as articles on new research, she also commissioned academics to write commentary on popular culture news and to review films and art exhibitions.

Josephine has an MA in English Literature from the University in Glasgow, and since autumn 2015 has also been studying part-time towards an MSc in Science, Technology and Society at UCL, which she will complete in September 2017. She is mostly looking at the history of the idea of going to war on global warming and visions of geoengineering the climate. These diverse interests mean that she is thrilled to have become The Conversation’s first Interdisciplinary Editor.

In her spare time, Josephine enjoys going to the cinema and exploring London’s industrial history. She is also a trustee of the Queille Trust, which organises a biennial arts festival in the south of France and aims to support the careers of emerging performers. She lives in south east London.