10 Excellent University Podcasts

For more enrich­ing audio, see our col­lec­tion of Free Uni­ver­si­ty Cours­es

1.) Abra­ham Lin­col­n’s Inven­tion of Pres­i­den­tial Pow­ers — James MacPher­son iTunes Audio Stream

Prince­ton’s James MacPher­son, a Pulitzer Prize-win­ning author on the Amer­i­can Civ­il War, dis­cuss­es how Lin­coln invent­ed pres­i­den­tial war-time pow­ers. It’s a top­ic of par­tic­u­lar inter­est giv­en the recent debate over the
valid­i­ty of war­rant­less wire­taps.

2.) Active Lib­er­ty: A Con­ver­sa­tion with Supreme Court Jus­tice Stephen Brey­er iTunes Audio Stream
Jus­tice Stephen Brey­er makes the case that lib­er­ty, as defined by the con­sti­tu­tion, isn’t about free­dom from gov­ern­ment inter­fer­ence (neg­a­tive lib­er­ty), as so many want to pro­claim today, but about the free­dom to par­tic­i­pate in our demo­c­ra­t­ic sys­tem (active lib­er­ty).

3.) Democ­ra­cy Mat­ters — Cor­nell West iTunes Audio Stream
A pow­er­ful ora­tor, West looks at how democ­ra­cies dete­ri­o­rate when cit­i­zens lose their abil­i­ty to think crit­i­cal­ly and rec­og­nize the deep under­ly­ing prob­lems that exist with­in their own nations. (The talk real­ly gets start­ed about 10 min­utes in.)

4.) Exis­ten­tial­ism in Lit­er­a­ture & Film — Hubert Drey­fus iTunes
This is not a lec­ture, but rather a full-fledged course taught by UC Berke­ley’s Hubert Drey­fus, which takes a close look at how exis­ten­tial­ism suf­fus­es impor­tant lit­er­a­ture, phi­los­o­phy and films — Dos­to­evsky’s Broth­ers Kara­ma­zov, Niet­zsche’s Gay Sci­ence, and Alain Resnais’ film Hiroshi­ma Mon Amour.

5.) Grad­u­a­tion Speech — Steve Jobs iTunes audio iTunes video Google Video
A short speech by Apple’s vision­ary CEO where he talks about his phi­los­o­phy on life. The moti­vat­ing talk was giv­en at Stan­ford in June

6.) Nation Build­ing: Beyond Iraq and Afghanistan — Fran­cis Fukuya­ma iTunes Audio Stream
Fukuya­ma, who once saw the world com­ing into an eter­nal demo­c­ra­t­ic bal­ance, now talks more sober­ly about how to han­dle the dif­fi­cult task of re-build­ing nations in gen­er­al, and par­tic­u­lar­ly those in the tur­bu­lent Mid­dle East. Fukuya­ma teach­es at Johns Hop­kins and heads the SAIS Inter­na­tion­al Devel­op­ment Pro­gram.

7.) The Art of Read­ing a Poem — Harold Bloom iTunesAudio Stream
The famed lit­er­ary crit­ic takes his stu­dents through a poem by Wal­lace Stevens, Parts of a World, and con­stant­ly moves between inter­pre­ta­tion and digres­sion — digres­sions that are often filled with intrigu­ing per­son­al anec­dotes.
The record­ing is not high­ly edit­ed, which lets you feel like a fly on the wall in the class­room. (Bloom real­ly gets start­ed about 13 min­utes in.)

8.) The Heart of Non Vio­lence — His Holi­ness the Dalai Lama iTunes Video (Real Play­er)
The Dalai Lama, the polit­i­cal and reli­gious leader of Tibet and win­ner of the Nobel Peace Price, speaks at Stan­ford about non­vi­o­lence, what it
means, when vio­lence is jus­ti­fi­able, and whether US mil­i­tary actions in Iraq might actu­al­ly be jus­ti­fied.

9.) The Future of the Inter­net — Tim Bern­ers-Lee iTunes Audio Stream
Tim Bern­ers-Lee, founder of the world wide web and direc­tor of the World Wide Web Con­sor­tium, speaks at Prince­ton about the seman­tic web and the chal­lenges to its future devel­op­ment.

10.) The Life and Work of Philip John­son — Vin­cent Scul­ly iTunes
Vin­cent Scul­ly, one of Amer­i­ca’s finest archi­tec­tur­al his­to­ri­ans, takes a look at the life and career of Philip John­son, one of Amer­i­ca’s finest archi­tects.

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