(Re)Searching Diversity: the podcast that gives a voice to inspiring social scientists

Diversity and representation is key in connecting students to what they are learning and to each other, as well as making them feel welcome, safe, and seen in education. In this interview, assistant professor at ESSB Jana Vietze talks about the podcast “(Re)Searching Diversity”, which she launched together with other early-career researchers. She discusses how the podcast went from idea to reality, what it focuses on and the future of it.

“During the lockdown, who didn’t start a podcast?”

The idea for the podcast came during the lockdown, when Jana wanted to find a way to connect to her students and colleagues from a distance. “Often times, students don’t have a way to get to know the person behind a scientific article that they have to read for their classes. A podcast in which inspiring researchers talk about their path into academia, their research topics, and their hopes for the future of social sciences offers students a better understanding of our profession as academics but also our backgrounds, both academically and personally. Importantly, it provides an alternative teaching format.”

Representation: the power of diversity

“One focus of our podcast is to represent non-traditional pathways into research; from being the first in a family to follow higher education, to being a woman and an immigrant in a male-dominated field", Jana explains. By having a diverse group of researchers that work on the podcast, Jana and her colleagues are creating an environment that is creative and productive, and effective in achieving their aim. “We aim to increase the visibility of inspiring social scientists and of cutting-edge research on ethnic, cultural, and migration-related diversity. When starting the podcast, we asked ourselves, ‘In higher education: Do we currently represent the diversity of the cities that we live in; in academia, on campus or in our teaching staff? Unfortunately: No!’. So we started with us, a diverse group of early-career women in Germany and the Netherlands, hosting this podcast. And we select our guests by considering: Which stories are not being told enough?”

Each episode, the researcher that is the guest focuses on one research article that has recently inspired them, as well as their own background and their research. So far, episodes have focused on topics ranging from racial/ethnic discrimination and well-being to environmental justice and gender identities. “The nice thing is that the topics in this podcast lend themselves for being teaching materials for many different disciplines, ranging from pedagogical sciences to psychology, sociology, or anthropology. And we also wanted to show students how we as researchers have many interests and participate in activities outside of lecture halls and university buildings. We care about being better mentors for students of colour, we care about including marginalized communities into our research process, we care about transparency and promoting the open science movement.”

Takeaways from the podcast

For her students, Jana hopes that this podcast reminds them that researchers are people with stories, passions and interests. “I also want students to be provided with a low-threshold, innovative teaching format that is closer to students’ realities. But mostly, we want students to join our scientific discourse on diversity, and to show that there are many pathways into becoming a researcher”. For listeners in general, Jana hopes the podcast makes research more accessible and researchers more approachable.

Challenges and the future of the podcast

In the beginning, starting the podcast was a challenge from the technical side. “We needed help with technical support, with the project management and things such as social media exposure”. For this, the CLI supported Jana and the podcast with a Teaching Innovation Project. In January, Jana will start a CLI Fellowship to evaluate the effectiveness of implementing the podcast into teaching at EUR. The podcast is still up and running, with new guests and new perspectives in every episode. Interested?  You can listen to it here (Apple Podcasts) and here (Spotify)

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