February 1, 2020
I shimmied out on a limb last semester and integrated a podcast a week into an upper-division class on environmental anthropology? I used episodes from the Cultures of Energy podcast run by Dominic Boyer and Cymene Howe at Rice as the main source of material but also used the TED Radio Hour; TED Talks; 99% Invisible; Global Development from the Guardian; Anthro Airwaves; and the NDN Science Show. These were scheduled for discussion on Fridays of a MWF class with structured question prompts provided to the students in advance. I then held my breath. We don’t have anthro majors here so students were diving in without much, if any, background. It pulled off far more successfully than I could have imagined. We had some really interesting and rich discussions. I was quite flabbergasted (in a good way) by the students’ responses to a CoE episode with Eduardo Kohn (“How Forests Think”), which I thought was easily the least accessible of the podcasts we used.
I was so happy with the pedagogy that I am using it this semester in a class on multiculturalism that I am prepping for students in our Communication Speech Disorder program at the department chair’s request. I’ve done that class a couple of times as a one credit-hour offering and am expanding it to a full-blown 3 credit hour class.
James H. McDonald, Ph.D. Professor of Anthropology
University of Montevallo
Montevallo, AL 35115