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7 of the best scholarly podcasts

7 of the best scholarly podcasts by ian m cook


7 of the best scholarly podcasts

Dr. Ian M. Cook is the author of  Scholarly Podcasting: Why, What, How? He brings us some recommendations of scholarly podcasts we can all check out…

Scholars are making podcasts! You might be aware of the popular science communication podcasts. They are great at presenting complex ideas through highly produced episodes, but they miss the nerdy beauty that can be found when experts deep dive into topics or themes. DIY podcasts produced by scholars allow those who might never get a post-graduate education the chance to experience the very best version of being in a seminar.

Material Girls

Hosted by the indefatigable duo Hannah McGregor and Marcelle Kosman, who rose to academic podcasting fame with ‘Witch, Please’, this new scholarly podcast about pop culture is heavy on the laughs and sharp with the social theory. You can deep dive into concepts such as ‘petro-capitalism’ via Barbie, ‘mass culture’ via Star Wars or ‘intimate publics’ via Taylor Swift. Totally accessible, even to those who’ve never felt the need to theorise filmic depictions of blue aliens. Listen now >>

Big Biology

Biology research is so diverse that biologists have to ask each other lots of questions to understand each other’s research which, it turns out, makes for an amazing podcast for non-biologists. Especially those who have questions such as: ‘Can we use a molecule’s complexity to distinguish life from non-life?’ Co-hosts Marty Martin, Art Woods and Cam Ghalambor do a great job of explaining what they will talk about with their guests in advance, so that even when it gets a bit intense, lay people can follow along. Listen now >>

Who do We Think We Are?

If you’ve only paid passing attention to news in the UK over the last decade or so then you’ll know that British people are having an ongoing existential discussion with themselves about who they are. Whether discussing Brexit, Windrush or ‘really hostile environments’, sociologist Michaela Benson doesn’t shy away from complexity as she is joined by an array of experts. Helpful ‘active listening questions’ accompany the podcast, whilst the Beyond the Headlines occasional spin off, co-hosted by Ala Sirriyeh, unpicks how migration is being reported. Listen now >>

The Cosmic Savannah

This podcast promises a ‘safari through the skies’ as it explores astronomy and astrophysics from the African continent. Co-hosts Jacinta Delhaize and Daniel Cunnama speak to leading researchers about their cutting-edge work, covering topics such as pulsars, how galaxies change over cosmic time, the lifecycles of cosmic dust, and the supermassive black hole that we have in the middle of our Milky Way. Some basic understanding of science is needed, as some of the episodes get quite complex. Listen now >>

Disasters: Deconstructed

There’s no such thing as a natural disaster. That’s what co-hosts Ksenia Chmutina, Jason von Meding have been telling their listeners for the last eight seasons as they explore the root causes of disasters from different disciplinary and ideological points of view. Some episodes feature guests speaking about work in ‘disaster studies’ or related fields, while other episodes are reading groups of classic works. They traverse themes relating to injustice, inequality, structural violence, and resistance. Listen now >>

What the If?

Documentary filmmaker Philip Shane, history of science professor Matt Stanley, and virologist and sci-fi author Gabrielle Paniccia push their imaginations to limit as they take listeners on extended wild yet scientifically-rooted thought experiments. ‘What if humans had evolved tool use while still living in the ocean?’ ‘What if humans lived forever?’ From gene editing to space rocks, and lethal flatulence to x-rays, the only limit to the podcast is the hosts’ curiosity (which, it seems, is endless). Listen now >>

How to Build a Stock Exchange: Making Finance Fit for the Future

This limited run podcast series is a history and sociology of financial markets. Philip Roscoe’s promise to teach listeners how to build a stock exchange, is the ruse around which he builds his anecdote-packed narrative that explores how financial markets came to be as they are today. Episodes include ‘Pickles, public schoolboys, and the business of financing start-ups’, and ‘The decade when greed became good’. You may or may not learn how to build a stock exchange by the final episode, but even if you listen with zero knowledge of finance, you’ll come away with an understanding of not only how influential stock-markets are in our day-to-day lives, but how they came to be so. Listen now >>

Dr. Ian M. CookDr Ian M Cook loves working with fellow scholars and students in making their podcast dreams a reality. By training, he is an anthropologist whose work focus includes urban India, scholarly podcasting, refugee access to higher education, and environmental (in)justice. Ian has co-created numerous scholarly podcasts, including for research projects and initiatives, and has taught podcasting workshops for researchers, students, teachers, NGO workers, activists and journalists across Europe. He interviewed 101 scholars who podcast for his book Scholarly Podcasting: Why, What, How? He is currently Editor-in-Chief at the multimodal anthropology publishing platform Allegra Lab. 


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