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Academic life

Podcasts for academics: my top 5

Podcasts are my go-to entertainment for driving, working out, flying, and long walks. I’ll pop one on while I’m cleaning the kitchen or making dinner. Give me some quality Canadian cold case investigations. Teach me Spanish. And let’s not forget one of my personal fave genres: the advice podcast. (How I miss you, Dear Sugars).

In today’s blog I thought I’d share some of my top podcast picks for academics (plus a bonus at the end).* These podcasts have episodes covering everything from citation practices to our emotional ties at work. I offer them up in no particular order, and I hope you find at least one to enjoy!

Leslie’s podcast picks

1. The Professor Is In

Yes, that Professor has a brand new podcast! Karen Kelsky and Kel Weinhold are the academics-turned-coaches behind the amazing resource The Professor Is In. If you’re missing their weekly Facebook lives, this podcast is for you. Their chats are, I think, especially valuable for grad students and junior academics struggling to make sense of the “cult” (as they sometimes describe it, see episode 1) of academia. However, people at all career stages can learn a lot about setting boundaries, avoiding overwork, and reclaiming some joy. Tune into episode 3 to learn some specific strategies for saying “no,” and how to work towards a 40-hour work week.

2. Feminist Survival Project 2020

Okay, who doesn’t need this?! Twin sisters Emily and Amelia Nagoski (authors of the book Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle) offer a podcast “for feminists who feel overwhelmed and exhausted by everything we need to get done in 2020, and worry that we’re not doing enough.” Although meant for anyone, the Nagoskis both work in academia and a lot of their stories are drawn from their experiences of grad school, the job market, writing, and research. If you only listen to two episodes, make it the first two: Separate the Stress from the Stressor, and Complete the Stress Response Cycle. For the many, many academics out there who are in a constant state of stress, like, fight-or-flight kind of stress, these episodes offer research-based strategies for breaking out of the stress cycle.

3. PhDivas

Drs. Liz Wayne and Christine “Xine” Yao cohost PhDivas, “a podcast about academia, culture, and social justice across the STEM/humanities divide.” The podcast includes interviews, academic advice, and conversations about activism and academia. The also tackle topics like imposter syndrome, over-achievement, and rejection. In short, there is something for everyone here!

4. Secret Feminist Agenda

Academic Dr. Hannah McGregor thinks feminists “are just inherently interesting.” Secret Feminist Agenda “is here to remind you that FUCK THAT your experiences of the world are real and valid.” Episodes regularly include a “self care corner” alongside interviews with an extremely diverse cast of characters who challenge us to imagine radical alternatives to the world we live in. Check out episode 3.30 Brilliant and Disgusting with Brenna Clarke Gray, Lucia Lorenzi, and Erin¬†Wunker, a reflection on speaking out and listening to criticism.

5. How’s Work? With Esther Perel

Okay, I might be a little obsessed with Dr. Esther Perel. I could listen to her talk all day. And thanks to several seasons of her podcasts Where Should We Begin? and now How’s Work?, I almost can. How’s Work isn’t about academia and the guests (so far) aren’t academics. But each episode gives us insight into our emotions and relationships at work. We listen in to one-time counseling sessions between Dr. Perel and her guests, who are usually co-workers. As she reminds the listener and her clients, “we bring our relational and emotional diaries to work.” In other words, who we are at work is shaped by the same powerful forces that have shaped us as children, as adults, as partners, and as parents. Understanding our patterns and our past can help us transform our work lives in the present.

Bonus! Do We Know Things?

Do We Know Things? isn’t a podcast about academia or work. BUT, it’s a great example of an academic starting a podcast in order to use her expertise to connect with and help a wide audience. Full disclosure, the host and creator Dr. Lisa Dawn Hamilton is a close friend and colleague of mine here at Mount Allison. Dr. Hamilton is a sex researcher, and her podcast delves into all sorts of things we “think” we know about sex and sexual health. She invites peer review from experts, following up on each episode with more data and context. I’m including it here because I know many academics want to find ways to reach a wider public but struggle to figure out how. I don’t think everyone should start podcasts. However, Do We Know Things? is a great model for imagining different ways to bring our expertise to the wider world.

*Although I know some of the folks involved with these podcasts, no one has asked me to promote their podcast.

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