The We Society

The We Society

Beyond the politics, beyond our geography are the intangible connections that hold us together - The We Society. The We Society podcast is here to tell you about the thousands of ways the Social Sciences can help us understand and enhance this complicated and fascinating human network. What can we do to fix the NHS? How can we better manage climate change? How do we end the cost of living crisis? Brought to you by the Academy of Social Sciences, this podcast tackles the big questions through a social science lens and brings you some of the best ideas to shape the way we live. Join acclaimed journalist and Academy president Will Hutton, as he invites guests from the world of Social Science to explore the stories behind the news and hear their solutions to society’s most pressing problems. Don't want to miss an episode? Follow the show on your favourite podcast platform and you can email us on and tell us who we should be speaking to or follow us on twitter Brought to you by the Academy of Social Sciences: (


May 1, 2024 29 mins
Lord Chris Patten is one of Britain’s big political beasts – not only as a commentator, thinker and writer, but he has had a formidable career where he has put ideas into action.

He has been a British cabinet minister, chair of the Conservative party, European Commissioner for External Relations, Governor of Hong Kong, Chair of the BBC and most recently Chancellor of Oxford University.

Taken together - includ...
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Dr Ella Cockbain is not afraid to delve into topics that may make others uncomfortable, whether that's labour exploitation or child sexual abuse.

As an associate professor in the Department of Security and Crime Science at UCL, she leads the research group on human trafficking and exploitation. In recognition of her impactful work, she received the prestigious Philip Leverhulme Prize last year along with 29 other exc...
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Professor Andy Pike has placed local authorities under his microscope for us, trying to figure out how to solve the crisis, as Sir Henry Daysh Chair of Regional Development Studies at Newcastle University. He’s even written a book about the very topic called "Financialisation and Local Statecraft".

When it was revealed in 2022 that Thurrock council in Essex faced a half-a-billion-pound black hole in its finances, it w...
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Professor Rosie McEachan is leading one of the most exciting research projects in Britain - the Born In Bradford study.

It's one of the largest research studies in the world, tracking the lives of over 30,000 Bradfordians to discover what factors most influence health and well-being.  In particular, they are focussing on how genetic, nutritional, environmental, behavioural and social factors impact health and developm...
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Dr Ed Jones is working to turn around Britain's ailing high streets. He is a financial economist at Bangor University who doesn’t consider himself a conventional academic.

The British High Street once was the heart of our cities, towns and villages, but no more. The High Street is increasingly lifeless  – the preserve of too many empty shops and countless charity shops that don’t have to pay burdensome business rates....
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Professor Anna Lawson and Dr Shani Dhanda believe that the Social Sciences can improve the world for disabled people. 

Dr Shani Danda may be our first guest on the We Society podcast who has also been featured in Vogue magazine for her work. An entrepreneur and disability activist, she is at the start of her social science career but has already achieved so much.

Professor Anna Lawson is a Professor of Law at...
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Professor Lord Richard Layard is one of the first economists to look at happiness as a metric that Governments worldwide should strive to improve in their population.

He was the founder-director of LSE's Centre for Economic Performance and is now the director of the Centre's Wellbeing programme. In 2005, he wrote Happiness: Lessons from a New Science, which was published in 20 languages.

We all quest for hap...
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February 1, 2024 2 mins
Join host Will Hutton for Season 5 of the We Society from March to hear more ideas that shape the world we live

In this podcast series, you will hear interviews from social scientists, business leaders and public figures to hear their solutions to society's most pressing issues.   

Tell us who we should be speaking to or what questions we should be asking by emailing 

This pod...
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For the final episode of Season 4, we have one of the chief architects of Britain's Levelling Up agenda: Andy Haldane. A fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences who brings you this podcast, Andy is in the middle of an illustrious career, from chief economist of the Bank of England to chief executive of the Royal Society of Arts. He has put Social Science in motion throughout his whole career.

In this episode, Andy s...
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Professor Lucie Cluver has spent her career improving the lot of children, especially during times of crisis.

Whether that's the AIDS pandemic or the Covid pandemic, Professor Cluver has been at the coalface and in this episode she talks about her time working as a social worker in South Africa all the way through to her work as Professor of Child and Family Social Work at the University of Oxford

From 2010 -...
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Minette Batters, President of the National Farmers’ Union of England and Wales, represents an estimated 55,000 farmers and farm workers.  She has changed the course of history as the first woman to become president of the NFU.

Every single person in the UK owes a debt to our farmers - they ensure food is on our tables every single day, but there appears to be a dissonance in our minds of what’s on our supermarket shel...
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Sir Andrew Dilnot is an economist who believes that statistics hold a key role in lessening inequality and making Britain fairer.  

He is now the warden of Nuffield College Oxford - a graduate college specialising in the social sciences. Before Nuffield, he was at the Institute for Fiscal Studies where he was the Director of the UK's leading independent economics research institute. 

A fierce advocate for sta...
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Ann Pettifor is an economist who is perhaps most famous for predicting the Global Financial Crisis two years before it happened.

But Ann is not just a savant, but a change maker. She was a core voice in the successful international campaign to cancel billions in debt accumulated by the Global South to mark the new millennium. And in 2008, she co-authored the report, A Green New Deal,  which laid out plans for better r...
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Neil Adger, Professor of Human Geography at the University of Exeter, examines human movement as a strategy and adaptation to climate change.

From the Somerset levels to Chittagong in Bangladesh, he's traversed the globe to discover why some communities are more climate resilient than others.

But it’s not just physical changes that Neil has been studying.  While climate disasters such as flooding can cause f...
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Economist Daniel Susskind has been studying the nature of work and automation for years, long before ChatGPT entered the chat.

But Daniel's work has never been more important with AI progressing at seemingly breakneck speed. As a research professor in Economics at King's College London and a Senior Research Associate at the Institute for Ethics in AI at Oxford University, he is one of the foremost experts on AI and wo...
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Vivienne Stern is the chief executive of Universities UK, a membership organisation that represents 140 UK universities. In this role, she's had to weather a raft of challenges from Brexit to the Covid pandemic. 

Host Will Hutton joins her in this conversation where they delve into just how important universities are for Britain, and how these treasured institutions can be protected for future generations. 

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The We Society returns on Wednesday (4 October) for Season 4. Expect to hear more conversations on ideas that shape the world we live from the world of Social Science. 

Our host, Will Hutton, is speaking to: Vivienne Stern from Universities UK, Daniel Susskind on the future of work in the age of AI, Neil Adger on the ongoing climate crisis, Ann Pettifor on global debt and many other fantastic guests. So join us from W...
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Our host, Will Hutton, chooses some 'must listen' moments from the past three seasons featuring Hillary Clinton, Ai Weiwei, Mariana Mazzuccato, Gary Younge, and Heaven Crawley.

To listen to the full episodes, you can find them all on the We Society page on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. We'll be back in the Autumn with a roster of new guests who are changing the world for the better with the help of...
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Novelist Ian McEwan is one of Britain's finest fiction writers whose canon of work has won him the Booker Prize amongst countless other awards and accolades. 

He joins host Will Hutton as they delve into a discussion on freedom, writing, and the importance of Social Science for human progress. 

This is the final episode of season 3 of The We Society Podcast from the Academy of Social Sciences which tackles th...
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Kenan Malik is an Observer columnist, a political thinker, and a seasoned broadcaster whose work mainly focuses on moral ethics and racism. 

He joins host Will Hutton in a wide-ranging discussion on racism following the publication of his latest book, Not So Black and White: A History of Race.

In this conversation, Kenan sets out his case that racism is a modern concept that emerged from a post-Englightenment...
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