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 Articles

It may not be possible to slow down fast fashion – so can the industry ever be sustainable?
Mark Sumner, University of Leeds

The fashion industry has some major sustainability problems. By 2030, it is predicted that the industry’s water consumption will grow by 50% to 118 billion cubic metres, its carbon footprint will increase to 2,791m tonnes and the amount of waste it creates will hit 148m tonnes.

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Dark tourism can be voyeuristic and exploitative – or if handled correctly, do a world of good
Cheryl Lawther, Queen’s University Belfast

Dark tourism is in vogue. It involves travel to sites associated with death, suffering and the seemingly macabre. Trips to former concentrations camps, sites of genocide, places of mass destruction, prisons and former battlefields are all part of the dark tourist’s controversial itinerary.

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‘A virtual mum put me to bed’: a view from the VR future of film
Victoria Mapplebeck | Royal Holloway, University of London

I’ve just got back from the Venice Film Festival, which for the first time showcased an exciting programme of genre defining virtual reality (VR) film. I’m currently developing a VR project of my own and for the last two years have spent many an hour queuing up at film festivals and in art galleries to see how various directors from cinema, fine art and theatre have experimented with such a radical and shape shifting medium. I have seen many VR works, some good, some bad but enough to convince me that VR feels like the very early days of cinema, a time when filmmakers are learning the grammar, rather than writing the language, of VR.

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Monkey selfie case finally settled – but there are many similar animal rights battles to come
Steve Fuller | University of Warwick

The furore that erupted when David Slater, a British wildlife photographer, released a “selfie” taken by a macaque monkey in 2015 has only just reached legal resolution. The animal rights group, PETA (“People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals”), which had filed on behalf of the macaque, allegedly named “Naruto”, withdrew its suit against Slater when he agreed to give 25% of any royalties from the selfie to animal welfare charities.

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Machine gaydar: AI is reinforcing stereotypes that liberal societies are trying to get rid of
Ansgar Koene, University of Nottingham

Following the old saying that “knowledge is power”, companies are seeking to infer increasingly intimate properties about their customers as a way to gain an edge over their competitors. The growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI), algorithms that use machine learning to analyse large multifaceted data sets, provides an especially attractive way to do this. In particular, the rapid advancement in AI capabilities for pattern discrimination and categorisation are leading researchers to explore its capabilities for increasingly complex data mining tasks.

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Inside view: prison crisis will continue until we hear inmates’ stories
Victoria Anderson, Cardiff University

Labour MP for Tottenham David Lammy’s report about racial bias in the criminal justice system has just hit the newsstands – and yes, it’s both shocking and true that black men are imprisoned more disproportionately in the UK than is even the case in the US.

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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.