Seasonal Specials

From Thanksgiving to Comic-Con, throughout the year we bring you podcasts to mark holidays and special events. Here you can find all of our seasonal episodes. Enjoy!

Images Flickr: H.L.I.T.Telping

July 26, 2017

How to Sit on the Iron Throne: Power and Violence in "Game of Thrones" and History

Summer 2017

Rival families fight for the throne by racking up the body count through political maneuvers, murders, battles, and betrayals. This summation is true as much for the hit HBO series Game of Thrones as it is for history, specifically the Atlantic world of early modern era. Historian Alex Dubé examines how our understandings of power and violence have fundamentally changed over time, and what modern day shows like Game of Thrones tell us about the present. Does absolute power corrupt absolutely? Tune in.

April 20, 2017

High-School Students Should Study Earth Science. Here's Why.

Earth Day 2017

Ever wonder why some subjects are taught in high school while others are not, or why students spend so much time memorizing facts? According to geophysicist Michael Wysession, science curricula in the US are based on standards that are more than 120 years old, and being stuck in the past has had serious consequences. This Earth Day, learn why Wysession believes in a new approach to science education.

This episode was first released in 2015 as part of our Into the Earth series.

February 16, 2017

The Legal Mind of Thomas Jefferson

Presidents' Day 2017

Before becoming the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson was a successful lawyer in Virginia. His legal training influenced the way he thought about government and politics, yet this earlier part of his career has largely been ignored by historians. David Konig, professor of history and law, has spent years analyzing the complex legal notes and papers that tell the story of Jefferson's time as an attorney. For Presidents Day, Konig sheds light on this fascinating and neglected aspect of Jefferson's life and mind.

This episode was first released in 2015. 

November 23, 2016

Pilgrim Fathers: How the Thanksgiving we know and love was manufactured

Thanksgiving 2016

Thanksgiving is a day most Americans look forward to, a day of watching parades and feasting on delicious food with friends and family. However, the rosy picture we have in our minds of our Pilgrim forefathers sitting down to eat with the local Native American tribes is, frankly, a myth. In honor of the holiday, American religious historian Mark Valeri shares the true and harrowing tales of the Pilgrim immigrants, and how and why their story came to national prominence in the post-Civil War era. He also examines how the myth of that first Thanksgiving has taken root in the American identity, and traces the revisions the story has undergone through the decades.

November 9, 2016

A Chemist's Quest for New Antibiotics

World Antibiotic Awareness Week 2016

Remember the last time you were sick and your doctor gave you antibiotics? What might have happened if those drugs didn't work? As antibiotic-resistant bacteria spread around the world, this scenario is much more than a "what if." The World Health Organization calls antibiotic resistance "one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today." To mark World Antibiotic Awareness Week, chemist TIm Wencewicz explains how we got here, why big pharmaceutical companies are neglecting the problem, and what his lab is doing to solve it. 

November 2, 2016

Social Citizens: How Peer Networks Influence Elections

Election 2016

Social Citizens: How Peer Networks Influence Elections
When you walk into a voting booth in less than a week to vote for the future president of the United States, you'll be all by yourself making a very personal decision - right? Betsy Sinclair, a political scientist and author of The Social Citizen: Peer Networks and Political Behaviorbelieves that in reality, politics is often more social than personal. Here she discusses the place of Facebook, YouTube, and face-to-face interactions in political decision-making, and explains how social science experiments reveal the true importance of social networks in politics. 

October 26, 2016

"Do You Like Scary Movies?" Horror Films & Things That Make Us Scream

Halloween 2016

Horror movies have been drawing audiences since the earliest days of film. But why are we drawn to fictional portrayals of events that we'd do anything to avoid in real life? And are we frightened by the same things we were 20 years ago? John Powers walks us through the history of the horror film. From the Frankenstein and Nosferatu to Freddy Krueger and Bruce Campbell, we break down what makes us scream.


October 13, 2016

The Hidden History of Trumpism

Election 2016

In a recent article in the Guardian, postdoctoral fellow Tim Shenk argues that Donald Trump's rise within the Republican Party has historical - and often overlooked - roots. From an obscure online journal to a best-selling book from 1941 and beyond, Shenk traces the hidden and surprising intellectual path of what we now call Trumpism. Understanding this history, Shenk believes, helps illuminate Trump's popularity, his reliance on Twitter, his clashes with fellow Republicans, and more.


October 5, 2016

A Laboratory for the Social Sciences: The American Panel Survey

Election 2016

What does the average American voter really think about the 2016 presidential candidates? How much do those beliefs depend on things like income, education level, or even personality? With the American Panel Survey (or TAPS), social scientists have a powerful tool to explore questions about human attitudes and behaviors over time. This year, researchers are using TAPS to learn about why voters choose certain candidates over others, and when and why they sometimes change their minds. Steven Smith, the director of TAPS, explains how the survey works and why it's such an important asset for social scientists. 


September 28, 2016

How to Forecast an Election


How to Forecast an Election
It's about six weeks until the 2016 US presidential election, and everyone wants to know: Who will win? Hillary Clinton? Or Donald Trump? To attempt to answer this question, political scientists like Jacob Montgomery build complex forecasting models. Montgomery shares his own unique approach to forecasting, and describes both the limitations and the value of these efforts to predict the future.