What is the best podcasted public lecture series?
April 7, 2009 2:31 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a podcast of public lectures from prominent people in their fields: people like Jeffrey Sachs, Peter Singer, Toni Morrison. Many universities offer public lecture series online. Which is the best podcast, in terms of big-name speakers and well explained ideas?
posted by surenoproblem to Education (15 answers total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Have you seen TED Talks?
posted by njbradburn at 3:03 AM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Here's Singer's TED Talk.
posted by njbradburn at 3:05 AM on April 7, 2009

Looking for the same thing as you do now, I've found listening to words and abc fora. I have to say that the Podcast of the College de France is an incredible resource, provided that you can speak French. You can find some podcasts or documents in English on their website, since they regularly invite lecturers from the English speaking world.
posted by nicolin at 3:33 AM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Slow TV is an Australian series, available as an mp3 podcast or an iTunes vodcast (see the links on the lower right of the front page). The topics are generally divided into politics, society and culture.

It's still newish, so hasn't attracted some of the biggest names yet, and has a lot of content that might only be relevant to Aussies (I can't tell, I'm biased). But so far it has featured: Nuri al-Maliki, Prime Minster of Iraq (on the future of Iraq), Peter Singer (on poverty), Tim Flannery (climate change), Germaine Greer (legacy of The Female Eunuch) and David Sedaris (as one of a panel at the Melbourne Art Festival).
posted by harriet vane at 3:58 AM on April 7, 2009

The Long Now seminars are in the same vein as TED talks.
posted by aheckler at 4:13 AM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This may not be as easy as podcast, but you mentioned Jeffrey Sachs. He was the Reith Lecturer on the BBC Reith Lectures in 1997. It may be possible still to stream the lectures.

I believe that the mp3 version is taken down after a week, but as a .ram you might still be able to record it (using, eg, Audacity) and listen at your leisure. Seems like it might still be there. As a bonus, the transcripts to the lectures are also posted on the site.

Pointers to the Reith Lecture archives since 1999 are available on that website. It appears the 2008 series is intact to download. A brief summary is below:

1999 Professor Anthony Giddens Runaway World
2000 Various Respect for the Earth
2001 Professor Tom Kirkwood The End of Age
2002 Onora O'Neill A Question of Trust
2003 Vilayanur S. Ramachandran The Emerging Mind
2004 Wole Soyinka Climate of Fear
2005 Lord Broers The Triumph of Technology
2006 Daniel Barenboim In the Beginning was Sound
2007 Jeffrey Sachs Bursting at the Seams

Chinese Vistas

The 60th anniversary Reith Lectures take China as their subject, and are given by the eminent historian Professor Jonathan Spence.

Each of the lectures will be available after broadcast to listen again or download.
posted by sagwalla at 4:31 AM on April 7, 2009

Sorry - Sachs was 2007, not 1997 (as indicated).
posted by sagwalla at 4:32 AM on April 7, 2009

Fora.tv is amazing.
posted by boeing82 at 4:34 AM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think the Physics for Future Presidents lecture series (podcasts available on iTunes or from the sidebar of the linked site) is unbeatable. It's aimed at non-science students and the idea is to give you as broad and solid a grounding in physics as possible to allow you to understand areas of physics that are either interesting or relevant to current affairs – for instance, the science behind solar panels or satellites.

The great thing about PfFP is the satisfaction of understanding something that you didn't before listening, and it really helped me to think about critically about scientific issues in a way that I never had before.

As a podcast, there are SOME drawbacks – there a horrible, sudden loud noise that Muller (the lecturer) seems to use to catch his students' attention and can really catch you by surprise, and occasionally it's difficult to appreciate a demonstration with only his description – but it's so different from most other educational podcasts that you must try it out.
posted by SamuelBowman at 4:54 AM on April 7, 2009

Sorry, I didn't emphasise the prominence of the Physics for Future Presidents lecturer, Richard A. Muller, in his field. That Wikipedia link sums him up well, but the most interesting point to me was that Muller contributed to the "Nemesis hypothesis", the idea that the Sun has a binary twin whose orbits coming close to earth have been the cause of periods of frequent and severe natural catastrophes. Interesting stuff!
posted by SamuelBowman at 5:54 AM on April 7, 2009

Aloud at the Central Library podcasts lectures from LA's Public library. Past speakers have included Katha Pollitt, Toni Morrison, Jeffrey Sachs, and Michael Pollan.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:45 AM on April 7, 2009

The nation's oldest and largest public affairs forum that brings in a diverse selection of prominent speakers. The Commonwealth Club
Lecture Series at UC Berkeley, some famous speakers, others not so famous. Mostly interesting. Poli Sci 179 at UC Berkeley
Isn't a lecture series but is absolutely my favorite thing to listen to and learn from. Always an interesting discussion and Michael Krasny is an excellent interviewer: KQED's Forum
posted by CarolynG at 3:34 PM on April 7, 2009

I've liked many of the lectures featured on Big Ideas, a Canadian podcast which bills itself as "the only regularly scheduled program in North America devoted to the art of the lecture."
posted by cymru_j at 3:56 PM on April 7, 2009

Just found :

posted by nicolin at 2:52 AM on April 27, 2009

sorry :

posted by nicolin at 2:55 AM on April 27, 2009

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