Students and faculty from Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) are collaborating on the production of podcasts that explore topics in science journalism, philosophy, and immersive digital technologies.
“These podcasts illustrate what Northwestern Qatar is all about - a community of scholars and storytellers contributing to the production of knowledge through innovative media in the region and beyond.
"These projects help develop practical skills in digital media while also requiring students to become creative scholars through research of various topics,” said Marwan M Kraidy, dean and CEO of NU-Q.
In developing the podcasts, students and faculty conduct research and interviews, write scripts and oversee all stages of content creation and production, including recording, editing, and producing the episodes. Students also use their digital marketing and social media skills to distribute and promote the podcasts on various platforms.
In one podcast, The Science Journal, a group of student researchers, along with Professor Anto Mohsin, who teaches science and technology studies, are creating podcasts to explore topics in science and journalism and how they play out during the Covid-19 pandemic. Throughout the podcast, student hosts discuss the craft of science storytelling and tackle contemporary science topics – from STEM education to science communication – with academics, scientists, communicators, and journalists.
“The great thing about podcasts and other forms of creative media is that they have helped democratise the production and access to scientific information and knowledge dissemination,” said Mohsin. “The more that popular science coverage is available in a society, the better informed that society can become.”
In another project, students William Lugoloobi, Raghdan Alhennawi, and Jannah Collado took their interest in philosophy and launched The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Philosophy podcast to explore social, political, and cultural topics around the world through a philosophical lens. Working alongside Torsten Menge, a philosophy professor at NU-Q, they are producing podcasts that examine the ideas of notable thinkers and philosophers throughout history and introduce them to a wider audience.
“Many people think that philosophy can only be done through studying ancient, complicated texts,” noted Menge. “Podcasts are a great way to show them how philosophy can actually be used to think about things happening in the world around you.”
A third podcast, Digital Doha Podcast, explores the media landscape in the Middle East and is funded as part of a Qatar National Research Fund project. The podcast is a series of conversations with local designers and media professionals on the use of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies in academia, film-making, and research. From discussing frame switch techniques in VR to going behind the scenes of how VR documentary is made, the podcast examines how immersive media is changing the way the world delivers and consumes content - both for entertainment and learning.
Professor Spencer Striker says student involvement in the project has highlighted the benefits of interest-driven learning experiences in enabling students to utilise their skills to contribute to a larger topic of their interest. “Projects like this encourage students to collaborate in doing the things that interest them the most and apply their skills in all aspects of digital media production, from producing to editing and social media management,” he said.