Wednesday, March 23, 2016

History of Science/Technology/Medicine Podcasts

Aside from being a good way to distract myself while running or driving, I find podcasts useful for teaching. In-class presentation tend to create a room full of students either mentally preparing to talk, decompressing after having spoken, or in the middle of an over-long, Powerpoint-fueled paper read. Assigning students to create a podcast episode circumvents most of those problems. Students also tend to understand that a podcast is less formal and more about the "so what," which is useful to emphasize.

Finding podcasts about the history of science/technology/medicine isn't always the easiest, so I thought I would compile the ones I'm aware of. Suggestions of others you've found interesting or useful would be very welcome.
  • BBC's In Our Time (
    • Though not exclusively about the history of science, relevant topics come up frequently. The format is an interviewer (Melvyn Bragg) and expert guests covering a particular topic.
    • Sample episode: "The Curies"
  • The Missing Link (
    • "A Podcast on the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology." This podcast is no longer running, but archives can still be found in a few places across the internet. It's worth seeking out. Creator Elizabeth Green Musselman, a history professor at Southwestern University, often discusses topics herself, but sometimes brings in guests speakers (and sometimes visits conferences like History of Science Society). 
    • Sample episode: "Strength in Numbers"
  • BackStory Radio (
    • Another podcast that ranges in its topics, but some hit on the history of science/technology/medicine. This is a product of the University of Virginia, where three professors - one covering the 20th century, one the 19th, and on the 18th - cover the history of weekly topics. 
    • Sample episode: "A History of Health Care"
  • Stuff You Missed in History Class (
    • This general history podcast doesn't often hit on science topics, but when it does, it's a great model for students considering their own podcast episodes. The hosts have a great, lively back-and-forth, and break the topics down to a very approachable level.
    • Sample episode: "Secret Science: Alchemy!"
  • MedicalHistory (
    • An older, seemingly-defunct podcast, this covers more than just the medical history you might guess from the name. 28 episodes in total. Interview-based.
    • Sample episode: "Science Wars: Harry Collins"
  • Exploring Environmental History (
    • "Exploring Environmental History is the podcast about human societies and the environment in the past. The periodic programmes feature interviews with people working in the field, reports on conferences and discussions about the use and methods of environmental history." 70 episodes to date.
    • Sample episode: "The Oldest Geordie: Environmental History of the River Tyne"
  • Gastropod (
  • Curious Minds podcast (
    • "CMPod (for Curious Minds Podcast) is a podcast (Radio-On-Demand) about Science, Technology and History. Each episode brings interesting stories from a wide range of subjects: from Physics and Astronomy to Medicine, Art and Science Fiction." Only a handful of episodes so far, but the most recent came out not long ago, so worth watching.
    • Sample episode: "The War of Currents"

No comments:

Post a Comment