What questions can you ask yourself to achieve a well-examined life? How does math impact our lives in unexpected ways?
These topics will be examined in two new shows that have joined the University of Chicago Podcast Network: “9 Questions,” hosted by Prof. Eric Oliver; and “Carry the Two,” from the University’s Institute for Mathematical and Statistical Innovation.
The nation’s leading network for higher education podcasts, the UCPN delivers deep conversations on key areas of the University’s scholarly impact. Hosted by faculty and experts from a variety of disciplines, the podcasts on the network examine topics including business and economics, politics, astrophysics and human rights. Led by the flagship Big Brains podcast, the five shows on the network earned more than 1.25 million downloads in the past year.
‘9 Questions’ fosters self-exploration
Twenty years ago, Oliver started teaching a UChicago course on learning to know about one’s self. In the class, he would ask his students nine questions that were essential for crafting “a well-examined life.” While working on a book about the nine questions, he thought it would be interesting to talk to people about themselves by way of a podcast.
In each episode of the “9 Questions” podcast, Oliver, a professor of political science, poses the nine questions to who he sees as some of our wisest and most interesting fellow humans—from scientists to therapists to artists to the religious. The first of the nine questions: “What am I?”
“My hope is that as people will listen to the podcast, they'll hear others publicly sharing their own self-exploration,” Oliver said, “and it will give them an idea of how they might answer these questions themselves.”
‘Carry the Two’ examines how math intersects our world
One of the aims of UChicago’s Institute for Mathematical and Statistical Innovation (IMSI) is to communicate mathematical and statistical research with communities outside of academia.
The “Carry the Two” podcast uses stories to convey how mathematical research drives the world around us. Each episode tackles a different topic—from modeling how bees in a swarm make group decisions, to how we can use textual analysis in changing in policy documents.
“Too often math is viewed just through equations and rote memorization, but mathematicians aren’t just computing numbers at their desk all day. They’re thinking creatively about some of our world’s biggest challenges,” said Sadie Witkowski, director of communication and engagement at IMSI, who co-hosts the podcast with Ian Martin, high school choir teacher and self-described “learning enthusiast.”
“We’re hoping that this podcast helps show listeners that math isn’t confined to your high school calculus class; it intersects with all parts of our lives—you just have to know where to look.”
Launched in 2020 to help confront key contemporary scientific and technological challenges, IMSI comprises a collaborative group of mathematicians and statisticians from UChicago, Northwestern University, the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Record-breaking year for UChicago podcasts
University Communications created the University of Chicago Podcast Network as a way to help showcase the critical scholarship and research of UChicago faculty. Launched in 2018 with the Big Brains podcast, the network is in the midst of a record year for listenership; the five UCPN shows earned more than 1.25 million downloads in the past 12 months—a 76 percent increase from 2021-22.
Learn more about each of the UCPN shows below:
- Big Brains: Stories about the pioneering research and pivotal breakthroughs by scholars at the University of Chicago and leading universities across the country. The University’s flagship podcast, Big Brains has received prestigious honors, including CASE’s Circle of Excellence grand gold (2022) and gold awards (2021), and Adweek’s “best branded podcast” in 2020.
- Capitalisn’t: Hosted by world-renowned economist Luigi Zingales and Vanity Fair contributing editor Bethany McLean, the podcast explains how capitalism can go wrong—what we can do to fix it.
- Not Another Politics Podcast: Political scientists William Howell, Anthony Fowler and Wioletta Dziuda provide a fresh perspective on the biggest political stories through rigorous scholarship, massive data sets and a deep knowledge of theory.
- Why This Universe: UChicago theoretical physicist Dan Hooper and Ph.D. student Shalma Wegsman examine the audience’s science questions about dark matter, black holes, quantum mechanics and more.
- Entitled: Law School scholars Claudia Flores and Tom Ginsburg, who have traveled the world getting into the weeds of global human rights debates, explore the stories and thorny questions around why rights matter and what is the matter with rights.
Subscribe to and learn more about the UChicago Podcast Network on the UChicago News website.