Season 2 Coming Soon

Thanks to the Vanderbilt students and faculty who contributed to the first season of VandyVox! We were thrilled to share student-produced audio from anthropology, game studies, health policy, human and organizational development, law, mathematics, and women’s and gender studies. Be sure to listen to our final episode of the season, which features the audio introduction to English major Anna Butrico’s senior thesis on podcasting!

You can listen to all eight episodes of Season 1 in your favorite podcast app or on VandyVox.com, where you can also find resources for engaging students in audio production work in curricular and co-curricular settings. We hope that VandyVox gives listeners a sense of the kind of creative and critical media students can produce, as well as tools instructors can use to support their student in this kind of work.

Season 2 is coming later in 2019! If you know of Vanderbilt students (undergraduate or otherwise) making great audio, let us know! We’re particularly interested in sharing audio produced as part of class assignments, but we’re open to any student-created audio work with an academic hook. To make a submission, contact VandyVox host and Center for Teaching director Derek Bruff (derek.bruff@vanderbilt.edu).

 

Episode 8 – “Aristotle Meets Apple” by Anna Butrico

This episode features a piece of audio produced by Anna Butrico, who graduated from Vanderbilt in 2018 with a degree in English and communication studies. Anna started podcasting her sophomore year at Vanderbilt, launching a podcast called This Vanderbilt Life with help from Vanderbilt Student Media. That experience led her to a summer internship at WPLN, Nashville’s public radio station, where she helped produced over two dozen stories. At the start of her senior year, Anna decided to write her honors thesis on podcasting, looking at how modern podcasts are inhabiting and extending classical Greek rhetorical forms. In this episode of VandyVox, we share the audio introduction to Anna’s honors thesis, “Aristotle Meets Apple: Rhetoric in the Podcast.”

For more by Anna Butrico, check out her multimodal senior thesis, her podcast This Vanderbilt Life, and her stories for WPLN Nashville Public Radio.

 

Episode 7 – “Borders and Rituals in ‘Papers, Please'” by Scholars at Play

This episode features an excerpt from an episode of Scholars at Play, a podcast focused on the critical discussion of video games and their place in society. The podcast is produced by three Vanderbilt graduate students: Derek Price (German Studies), Terrell Taylor (English), and Kyle Romero (History). They got together in 2016 around a shared interest in video game studies after Derek Price put up a few signs in the grad student carrels of a video game controller. Since the campus didn’t have a graduate seminar in game studies at the time, they decided to create their own, as a podcast. They launched Scholars at Play that year with some help from Vanderbilt’s Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy. This episode of VandyVox features the first segment of their second episode, “Borders and Rituals in ‘Papers, Please.’”

For more Scholars at Play, listen to their podcast on SoundCloud or visit their website, scholarsatplay.net. And for more on the origin of the Scholars at Play podcast, listen to an interview with Derek, Terrell, and Kyle in Episode 34 of Vanderbilt’s edtech podcast, Leading Lines.

Episode 6 – “Well Founded Fear” by Joshua Minchin

In this episode, we feature a short audio documentary by Vanderbilt law student Joshua Minchin called “Well Founded Fear.” Joshua produced this piece for an assignment in a refugee law course taught by Vanderbilt professor Karla McKanders. The assignment called for students to take some challenging legal issued related to refugee and immigration law and to convey it to a non-specialist audience through audio stories. Joshua’s motivation for this piece came from his personal experience working as an employment specialist for a refugee resettlement agency before he started law school. In writing about this audio piece, Minchin said it’s important not to lose track of the people who are most affected by immigration law.

Joshua’s piece first aired on the long-running podcast Life of the Law. For more information on Karla McKanders’ collaboration with Life of the Law, as well as other student pieces that aired on that podcast, listen to Episode 136, “New Voices Series: Law Students Take on Immigration.”

Episode 5 – “Writer’s Block Tango” by Sarah Eidson

In this episode, we feature a short audio story by Vanderbilt undergraduate Sarah Eidson about Maurine Watkins, the American journalist who wrote the play Chicago in 1926. Sarah produced the audio story for an assignment in the provocatively titled course “Women Who Kill,” taught in the women’s and gender studies program by English lecturer Robbie Spivey. The course provided a critical look at classical and contemporary representations of women who kill. Maurine Watkins, the subject of Sarah’s audio story, wasn’t a woman who killed, but she covered the murder trials of two women as part of her work at the Chicago Tribune, then wrote her play Chicago about women accused of murder based on that experience. In Sarah’s audio piece “Writer’s Block Tango,” Sarah blends fact and speculation to explore Watkins’ motivations.

For those interested in using audio assignments in their teaching, here’s a little background on Robbie Spivey’s podcast assignment for her course “Women Who Kill”…

Robbie asked her students to make a podcast episode of 8 to 13 minutes in length, using the audio format to respond to the following prompt:

“When we talk about women who kill, we need to talk about X because Y.”

Before scripting and recording their audio pieces, students were asked to conduct preliminary research to identify a topic, then collect sources and write an annotated bibliography. Here’s how Robbie framed the audio production piece of the assignment:

“Support your claims with good reasoning, valid evidence, and when appropriate, good story-telling. Take advantage of the podcast medium to convey your message in ways you would not be able to in a traditional research essay or classroom presentation. For example, strategically use pacing, music, sound effects, ambient noise, other voices, etc.”

Robbie also helped shape her students’ expected audience:

“Address an audience made up of both college students and professors at Vanderbilt and other universities like Vanderbilt interested in conversations about “women who kill.” Your audience is interested in the conversation, but has not participated in the conversation with the sustained attention that we have over the course of this semester, nor has your audience considered the significance of your chosen topic. They may not even be aware that your topic is relevant to conversations about women who kill… As you design your podcast, think about what you want your audience to know, believe, understand, ask, or do.”

Episode 4 – “Unpacking Health Care Disparities” by Sheuli Chowdhury

When Sheuli Chowdhury picked her topic for the podcast assignment in her health policy class, she didn’t take the easy way out. She decided to dive into the intersection of two very complex topics: healthcare and immigration. In this episode of VandyVox, we share her project, an audio exploration of recent research on undocumented immigrants and Medicaid enrollment. Her piece is titled “Unpacking Health Care Disparities.” The assignment, for an introduction to health services course taught by Vanderbilt health policy professor Gilbert Gonzales, asked students to take recent research in health policy and explain it for a lay audience. Sheuli reports learning a lot from the project, about both Medicaid and immigration policy.

For more student-produced audio on health policy, listen to Health Policy Radio with Gilbert Gonzales on SoundCloud. And for those interested in teaching with podcasts, listen to Gilbert’s interview on Episode 27 of Vanderbilt’s edtech podcast, Leading Lines, for information about his podcast assignment and how it helps him meet his teaching objectives.

 

Episode 3 – “The Panizzardi Telegram” by Charlie Overton

This episode features an audio peice called “The Panizzardi Telegram” produced by Vanderbilt undergraduate Charlie Overton. Charlie was a student in podcast host Derek Bruff’s first-year writing seminar last fall, a course on cryptography. The course is a busy one, with mathematics and codebreaking, history and current events, and, as of recent offerings, a podcast assignment. Derek asks his students to explore the history of codes and ciphers for a class podcast called One-Time Pod. Charlie’s contribution on the Panizzardi telegram deftly combines historical storytelling and technical explanations. It also communicates an enduring understanding about cryptography: If you don’t know how a message has been encrypted, it’s really easy to make up a decryption method that makes the message say what you want it to say.

For more student-produced pieces on the history of cryptography, check out Derek’s class podcast, One-Time Pod. And for those interested in using audio assignments in their teaching, see Derek’s podcast assignment and rubric for ideas.

Episode 2 – “The Name” by Layla Shahmohammadi

Last fall, Vanderbilt student Layla Shahmohammadi interned at Conexión Américas, a non-profit whose mission is to build community and opportunities for Latino families, particularly immigrant families, in Nashville. Layla’s internship was part of her capstone experience as a major in Human and Organizational Development (HOD). When Layla started working at Conexión, she noticed that staff members, who were mostly Hispanic, preferred others in the organization use the Spanish pronunciations of their names. She thought this was interesting, so she talked with her co-workers about their names and identities and produced a short audio documentary as part of her HOD capstone experience. This episode of VandyVox features that documentary, titled “The Name: Names, Identity, and Self-Perception at Conexión Américas.”

For more audio from HOD students, check out the HOD Capstone Learning podcast, available on SoundCloud.

Episode 1 – “Hagar Rising” by Sarah Saxton Strassberg

This episode of VandyVox features a short audio story by Vanderbilt undergraduate Sarah Saxton Strassberg called “Hagar Rising.” Sarah Saxton was a student in a fall 2018 anthropology course taught by Sophie Bjork-James on the politics of reproductive health in the United States. The final assignment in Sophie’s course asked students to research a contemporary reproductive health issue and produce a piece of video or audio that explores that issue. Sarah Saxton chose to look at gene editing, an emerging set of biotechnologies that have the potential to allow parents to pick and choose physical features of their children. Sarah Saxton used what she learned about gene editing and its potential effects on society to write and produce a piece of science fiction in audio form exploring the dangers of taking gene editing too far.

For those interested in using audio assignments in their teaching, what follows is a little background on the assignment that led to “Hagar Rising”…

Sophie Bjork-James, Sarah Saxton’s professor, was a participant in the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching’s Course Design Institute in 2016. The theme of that institute was “Students as Producers,” with a focus on assignments and activities that engage students not only as consumers of information, but also as producers of knowledge. Sophie’s multimedia assignment leveraged some of the strategies discussed at the institute, including asking students for project proposals and storyboards to provide opportunities for feedback as they develop their projects. Sophie also asked students to submit a producer’s statement along with each project, one that included a literature review, a reflection on what the student learned through the project, and a discussion of the process used to create the final product. Producer’s statements like these are useful for evaluating student work on non-traditional assignments like podcasts. Sophie told VandyVox host Derek Bruff that the assignment turned out very well in her politics of reproductive health course, and she’s planning on making podcasts a regular part of the first-year writing seminars she teaches in the future.

Welcome to VandyVox!

by Derek Bruff, Director, Vanderbilt Center for Teaching

VandyVox showcases the best of student-produced audio at Vanderbilt University. Each episode features student work from a curricular or co-curricular project, including audio documentaries, radio dramas, spoken word essays, and ongoing podcasts.

I got the idea for VandyVox during a course design institute hosted by my center in May 2018. Several faculty participants in the institute were interested in assigning audio projects in their courses or creating class podcasts. Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, if there were a “podcast of podcasts” produced by Vanderbilt, featuring the best of these student projects?

In the fall of 2018, I pitched the idea to colleagues at Vanderbilt Student Media, including director Chris Carroll and assistant directors Paige Clancy and Jim Hayes. They were excited by the idea and the potential it had for helping Vanderbilt student work reach a wider audience. I reached out to faculty and students for audio to include, and the Student Media team, including assistant director Jeff Breux, went to work on production and distribution.

We’re happy to launch Season 1 of VandyVox in February 2019 with eight episodes featuring student audio created for honors theses and internships, courses and research projects. Fields represented in the first season include math and English, law and health policy. Genres include audio documentaries, speculative fiction, critical essays, and that one where three people sit around a microphone and talk about video games.

We hope that VandyVox gives listeners a sense of the creative and critical media produced by students at Vanderbilt, and that it inspires faculty and students to consider ways that audio production might enhance their teaching and learning.

We’re prepping for Season 2 later in 2019! If you know of student audio we might feature on VandyVox, please let us know!