Shona Minson named a New Generation Thinker by BBC and AHRC

Shona Minson, who has been a British Academy Research Fellow at the Centre for Criminology, has been announced as one of ten New Generation Thinkers, supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the BBC.

Headshot of white woman with curly grey/brown hair and orange headband
Shona Minson

Shona has been selected for her work on the treatment of mothers in the criminal justice system. Originally from Belfast, she is an award-winning criminologist, whose first career as a family and criminal barrister led her to explore families and punishment.

The selection panel noted that ‘Shona is a unique voice and a leading authority on how to do justice better for women and their children.’

Shona’s research has focused on the impact of maternal imprisonment on children, the impact of COVID-19 prison lockdowns on children who have a parent in prison, and most recently, the barriers mother in prison face when trying to participate in family court proceedings involving their children. Her research has been referenced frequently in parliamentary debates and has informed Government policy including the 2018 Female Offenders’ Strategy, and the June 2019 Farmer review, and led to an enquiry by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights. She contributes regularly to public conversations about the wider consequences of punishment, and women's justice issues. Her innovative short films based on interviews with children, mothers and grandmothers affected by maternal imprisonment, changed legal professional practice in the UK and overseas. Her first book highlighted the lack of concern given to children whose mothers are imprisoned and the next examines the impact on society when the motherhood of criminalised women is disregarded.

Shona says

"I am delighted to have been chosen as a BBC New Generation Thinker.  The research I have done over the years has been challenging but has spurred me on to advocate for the children of incarcerated parents and to raise questions about the way we punish women through the criminal justice system. I believe in the importance of public conversations about these things, and I hope this year will provide many more opportunities for discussions about these issues."


A group of 10 people standing and sitting on a flight of ornate stairs
Shona Minson and the other New Generational Thinkers

Every year, a nationwide search is held for the best new arts and humanities academics with ideas that will resonate with a wider audience on BBC radio. From hundreds of applications, these ten New Generation Thinkers represent some of the best early career researchers in the country. They will be given the opportunity to share their pioneering research with BBC Radio 4 listeners, as well as being provided with unique access to training and support from AHRC and the BBC.

Professor Christopher Smith, AHRC Executive Chair says "These ten brilliant, original thinkers demonstrate the ability of the arts and humanities to help us to better understand both ourselves and the world around us.”

Matthew Dodd, Commissioning Editor, Arts, BBC Radio 3 and 4, adds “We’re looking forward to working with ten of the most promising early-career academics. Each year the New Generation Thinker scheme brings radio production teams a wave of stimulating and thought-provoking contributors who have a passion for public engagement.”