BornCurious: Season 1

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Episode 111: Free Speech, Political Speech, and Hate Speech on Campus

  • Five people sit in chairs on a stage in the Knafel Center at Harvard Radcliffe Institute


    In response to recent events, protest and discord have reached a fever pitch on university campuses. It is in this context that Harvard Radcliffe Institute gathered interdisciplinary experts for a crucial discussion about hate speech, academic freedom, and the legal norms that govern how universities can respond to protest.

    In this episode, we explore the underpinnings of how antisemitism, Islamophobia, and other identity-based hatreds—issues that have received increased attention in the context of the ongoing Gaza crisis and attendant campus controversies—fit into a broader set of questions about the role of institutions of higher education.

    This episode was recorded on December 12, 2023.
    Released on December 20, 2023.

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Episode 110: The Thrill of Archival Discovery

  • Tamar Gonen Brown speaking to BPS students


    Tamar Gonen Brown, head of education and outreach at Radcliffe’s Schlesinger Library, gives us a peek into the fascinating world of archives. She uses rare archival materials not only to teach students research skills but also to train them how to be “history detectives” in their own right and to share the thrill of discovery.

    This episode was recorded on August 9, 2023.

    Released on December 19, 2023.

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Episode 109: Using Machine Learning to Listen to Whales

  • David Gruber at interview


    For millennia, humans have regarded other species with curiosity and wonder. We have tried to decode their behaviors and imagine what they are saying—but truly speaking with animals has traditionally been the stuff of stories, such as those featuring Dr. Dolittle. In this episode of BornCurious, we talk with the oceanographer David Gruber, who is spearheading Project CETI, a multidisciplinary collaboration. We learn that understanding animals is rapidly moving beyond the realm of fiction: Gruber and his colleagues are using hard science—state-of-the-art robotics and machine learning—to listen to and translate sperm whale communication.

    This episode was recorded on May 12, 2023.

    Released on November 30, 2023.

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Episode 108: Justice-Impacted Brilliance

  • Brittany White, Meek Mill, Ayana Bean, and Wallo speaking on stage in front of packed conference room


    In this episode, Meek Mill, an award-winning rapper and one of the nation’s top voices for parole and probation reform, talks with Brittany White—a practitioner in residence at Radcliffe and Harvard Law School, an organizing fellow at the Institute to End Mass Incarceration, and a formerly incarcerated Black woman—and others. This conversation brings together people with lived experience of incarceration as experts to discuss their efforts to change the probation and parole system, helping to make the US justice system more just.

    This episode was recorded on May 1, 2023.

    Released on November 16, 2023.

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Episode 107: Language and Thought around the World, Part 2

  • Portrait of Asifa Majid


    In the continuation of a conversation about language and thought, the cognitive psychologist Asifa Majid talks about why most studies on the topic have focused on English speakers, where in the brain language is processed, why some languages have trouble describing sensory input while others do not, and where language studies should go next.

    This episode was recorded on June 2, 2023.

    Released on November 8, 2023.

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Episode 106: Language and Thought around the World, Part 1

  • Portrait of Asifa Majid


    We think of language as a way to express what we think, but language can actually shape how we think. An estimated 7,000 distinct languages are spoken around the world, and many of them are unstudied or undescribed. It is estimated that there are already over 500 extinct languages. The loss of a language is no less worrisome than the loss of a species. In the first of two episodes, our hosts talk to the cognitive psychologist Asifa Majid about linguistic diversity and why we must preserve it.

    This episode was recorded on June 2, 2023.

    Released on November 8, 2023.

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Episode 105: A Conversation with Tressie McMillan Cottom

  • Portrait of Tressi Mcmillan Cottom sitting in a chair


    In a wide-ranging conversation, the cultural critic and essayist Tressie McMillan Cottom and the legal scholar and Radcliffe Dean Tomiko Brown-Nagin explore such topics as what it means to exist as a Black woman in the world, why Cottom keeps her grandmother in mind when writing her essays, and pop culture’s relationship to the aesthetics of power. The conversation was part of the Kim and Judy Davis Dean’s Lecture Series at Harvard Radcliffe Institute.

    This episode was recorded on March 30, 2023.

    Released on November 3, 2023.

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Episode 104: Wounds across Borders

  • Omar Dewachi and Ieva Jusionyte at BornCurious podcast recording


    What do bodily injuries tell us about borders, violence, and our society? In this episode, Omar Dewachi and Ieva Jusionyte talk about the role of ethnography in answering that question. Both are anthropologists who conduct site-specific work in areas of conflict.

    This episode was recorded on April 20, 2023.

    Released on October 26, 2023.

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Episode 103: The US Pain and Overdose Crises

  • Woman gazing out window with arm resting on windowsill


    According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdose deaths have risen fivefold in the past two decades. What’s driving this crisis, and what can be done to alleviate it? Our hosts discuss the issue with Liz Chiarello, a sociologist who is finishing a book about how the dual US crises of pain and overdoses have transformed law enforcement and healthcare.

    This episode was recorded on June 30, 2023.

    Released on September 21, 2023.

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Episode 102: The Unique Power of Cartoons

  • Ebony Flowers


    Cartoons have evolved since their Sunday-edition comic strip days. With the popularity of graphic novels on the rise, visual storytelling is becoming ever more sophisticated. In this episode, our hosts talk with the cartoonist Ebony Flowers about her journey, motivation, and process as she marries drawing with the written word.

    This episode was recorded on June 22, 2023.

    Released on September 21, 2023.

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Episode 101: Healthcare Disparities for People with Disabilities

  • Lisa Iezzoni in wheelchair riding past Byerly Hall in Radcliffe Yard.


    For 25 years, Lisa I. Iezzonis research has focused on improving the lived experiences, healthcare quality, and health equity of adults with disability, particularly mobility disability. It’s only recently, though, that research she conducted revealed the depths of medical inequity for people with disabilities. In this conversation, our hosts ask Iezzoni about her life’s work—and the difficulties in making healthcare more accessible.

    This episode was recorded on November 16, 2022.

    Released on September 21, 2023.

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