Podcasts are hip. With little effort, you can find podcasts on every conceivable topic, be it history, science, gaming, etc. Lately, I started listening to podcasts when I am on long journeys and in my spare time. I find them an easy and pleasant way to learn something about an unfamiliar topic. Although podcasts can also be used as a teaching tool or for science communication, I simply want to share some of my favourite podcasts for your ‘hearing pleasure’.
Several institutions employ podcasts to appeal to a larger audience. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography has its own podcast, Listen to a life, in which biographical entries are read aloud. Recently, the history department of Ghent University started its own podcast: Geheugenissen. The episodes – in Dutch – are available via SoundCloud. In each one, a historian explores a topic in which he or she has specialized. Consequently, Geheugenissen – like many scientific themed podcasts – enables me to come across new subjects and scientific views. Currently, I am really excited about the latest episode, which covers the iconoclastic fury in Ghent during the sixteenth century, and I plan to listen to it while walking through the city.
Another historical podcast that I really like, is In Our Time by BBC’s Radio 4, which often tackles cultural and historical subjects. Every episode consists of a discussion between presenter Melvyn Bragg and a couple of academics about a specific topic. These range from Aesop to nuclear fusion, from purgatory to Hokusai. The podcasts are often paired with a reading list, which is very useful if you want to explore a topic further. All episodes are free to download, and take between 30 to 45 minutes to listen to. On September 21, the show started airing its 20th season with an episode about Kant’s categorical imperative.
Finally, if you are in the mood for a ‘quite interesting’ podcast, then No such thing as a fish is the thing for you. This weekly podcast is created by the researchers of the quiz QI (the so-called QI-elves), who discuss their strange discoveries. Whether you know QI or not, if you are interested in a mix of compelling trivia and comedy then I would definitely recommend that you check it out.
Listen to a Life, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: http://global.oup.com/oxforddnb/info/freeodnb/pod/
In Our Time: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qykl
No such thing as a fish: http://qi.com/podcast