Using Oral History and Podcasting in a Project-Based Public History Class

Lunchtime Lectures
Tuesday, December 4, 2018
12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m.
Science History Institute
315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
United States

Join us for a Brown Bag Lecture by Roger Turner, Research Fellow at the Science History Institute. 

How can we use oral history to engage students in the practices of public history? What can we do as curators to make oral history more useful for teaching and for sharing with various publics? This semester I’m teaching a class at the University of Pennsylvania on the history of climate change. My assignments aim to build students’ skills in doing public history. The course is structured around a semester-long project where we collaboratively produce a podcast about the history of atmospheric science. Each student is researching, writing, and producing an episode. I’m making an episode as well, while drawing on the skills of Science History Institute staff in several departments. Our source material is a corpus of oral histories produced by the American Meteorological Society and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (in Boulder, Colorado) since the late 1980s. This presentation will reflect on the challenges and rewards of the process. I hope to stimulate a discussion about how to make audio research collections accessible to wider audiences, from undergraduates to dishwashing listeners.

About the Speaker

Roger Turner has been a research fellow at the Science History Institute since July 2016, contributing to public history projects in various media, including Instruments of Change, The Instrumental Chemist, and Distillations. He runs the blog Picturing Meteorology, which uses compelling images to engage readers in the history of atmospheric science. Before joining the Institute he taught American history, environmental studies, and STS at Dickinson College and the Rochester Institute of Technology. Roger’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the American Meteorological Society, and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

About the Series

Brown Bag Lectures (BBLs) are a series of (mostly) weekly, informal talks on the history of chemistry or related subjects, including the history and social studies of science, technology, and medicine. Based on original research (sometimes still in progress), these talks are given by local scholars for an audience of the Institute staff and fellows and interested members of the public.