15 Minute History: Quick History Lessons from a New, Chart-Topping Podcast

15 minute history

I’ve always been jeal­ous of friends who stud­ied his­to­ry in col­lege. They’ve got a work­ing knowl­edge of the caus­es of wars, eco­nom­ic crises, polit­i­cal upheavals, and any oth­er triv­ia ques­tion-wor­thy events. Thank­ful­ly, what­ev­er I’d like to learn is mere­ly a click away: we’ve got over 800 free online cours­es (includ­ing 67 free his­to­ry cours­es) list­ed on Open Cul­ture at the time of writ­ing, and edu­ca­tion­al insti­tu­tions con­tin­ue to upload new lec­tures every week. Most of the lec­tures, how­ev­er, last from 30 min­utes to an hour, requir­ing users to cor­don off a block of time for study. Want some­thing short­er? Enter the 15 Minute His­to­ry pod­cast, cur­rent­ly the fourth most pop­u­lar pod­cast on iTune­sU.

The result of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas at Austin’s Hemi­spheres and Not Even Past pub­lic out­reach efforts, the 15 Minute His­to­ry pod­cast focus­es on key sub­jects in world his­to­ry and U.S. his­to­ry. Although the pod­cast is tai­lored to Texas teach­ers and stu­dents, empha­siz­ing the state’s K‑12 cur­ricu­lum, it also hap­pens to be a trea­sure trove of free con­tent for any­one inter­est­ed in his­to­ry. The short pod­casts, which last some 15 min­utes on aver­age, cov­er every­thing from Russia’s Octo­ber 1917 Rev­o­lu­tion, to the Ottoman Empire, to the glob­al con­text of the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion. Each episode is led by one of three UT Austin aca­d­e­mics, who dis­cuss the top­ic at hand with anoth­er uni­ver­si­ty pro­fes­sor or grad­u­ate stu­dent. Con­ve­nient­ly, on the 15 Minute His­to­ry web site, the pod­casts are accom­pa­nied by a care­ful­ly for­mat­ted tran­script, plus addi­tion­al read­ing mate­ri­als for those who find them­selves curi­ous about a par­tic­u­lar top­ic.

Inter­est­ed read­ers can find the whole pod­cast series on iTunes, or on the web.

Ilia Blin­d­er­man is a Mon­tre­al-based cul­ture and sci­ence writer. Fol­low him at @iliablinderman.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A Crash Course in World His­to­ry

The Com­plete His­to­ry of the World (and Human Cre­ativ­i­ty) in 100 Objects

The His­to­ry of Phi­los­o­phy, from 600 B.C.E. to 1935, Visu­al­ized in Two Mas­sive, 44-Foot High Dia­grams

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