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Polisci Podcasts?

- September 17, 2010

Via email, a reader writes:

bq. On the Monkey Cage earlier this week, you suggested some ways that the “supply” of academic research that reaches journalists and the public could be increased, arguing that “there have to be more forums where political scientists can talk colloquially about what they know.” You mentioned blogs, Twitter and other online forms of the written word as potential avenues for such engagement. I think another potential avenue, if done right, could be audio podcasts. I recently began listening regularly to “Philosophy Bites”:http://www.philosophybites.com/ out of the UK, which features a professor of philosophy interviewing other professors on specific philosophical topics. Each episode basically provides an introduction to a different area of philosophy such as John Stuart Mill’s utilitarianism or the idea of free riding in politics. The conversations are easy to follow and I’ve found myself actually retaining some of the ideas and information.

bq. I feel like a similar forum could be beneficial for distributing the thinking of political science to non-academic audiences. Not only would the interview format make the discussion more accessible — much in the way that writing about political science in blog form tends to make the discussion occur in more colloquial terms — but it would also offer a different way to download the ideas. A journalist or student could listen while they work out or commute, and though it wouldn’t get the depth of an academic article, they’d get an introduction to concepts on which they could later build.

bq. It’s possible that political science wouldn’t lend itself to the podcast format in the manner that philosophy does, but for what it’s worth, I know that I, as someone new to the study of political science, would definitely make use of such an opportunity to get a basic introduction to the wide range of ideas in the discipline.

(See also “this comment”:https://themonkeycage.org/2010/09/things_political_science_can_d.html#comment-44022 on my earlier post.)

I assume that the market for political science podcasts isn’t vast, but I am all in favor of throwing lots of stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. I watched/listened to some of the videos “here”:https://themonkeycage.org/2010/08/political_scientists_on_youtub.html and I was struck by how interesting I found them. Of course, I’m not the target audience, but I can imagined that with really salient question (e.g., “Can We Stop Civil Wars?”) and a lively interlocutor, at least a few people could be tempted. Why not try? This is something else APSA could consider.