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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