Skip to main content


Beyond Disciplines podcast set to launch

Four-person Concordia “Pod Squad” looks at dialogue across the disciplines
July 25, 2016
By Elisabeth Faure

T16-31166-ARSC-Webpage-caroussel-Beyond Disciplines-v1-Final

Months in the making, the Beyond Disciplines podcast series is making its debut.

The series was created by Concordians Michelle Macklem, MA (Media Studies) ‘16, Kendra Besanger, MA (Media Studies) ‘13, Katherine Hill, MA,(Media Studies) ‘16, and Constance Lafontaine, a PhD candidate in Communication Studies.

The podcast was based on the inaugural season of Beyond Disciplines, the public event series organized by Faculty of Arts and Science (FAS) Dean André Roy.

The quartet, informally dubbed the FAS “Pod Squad”, had already worked together on numerous audio projects, both via the Media Studies program, and through the ACT (Ageing, Communication, Technologies) project, headed by FAS Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies Kim Sawchuk.

“I knew from the beginning the ​Beyond Disciplines series was something special, and I wanted to find a way to make sure the discussions we were having could live beyond the events themselves,” says Sawchuk. “I thought a podcast was the perfect way to do it, and I knew that Michelle, Kendra, Katie, and Constance were the perfect people to produce it.”

Macklem immediately saw an opportunity to produce a unique podcast. “There’s a few academic podcasts out there, but none directly from universities that I think address topics in an accessible and engaging way.”

“Universities are much too compartmentalized,” says Besanger. “When people with different backgrounds and skill sets together are plunked together and asked to discuss complex topics, interesting conversations are going to emerge. It’s great to see Concordia taking steps toward interdisciplinary thinking.”

Lafontaine, who is associate director of ACT, agrees universities could be doing more to promote interdisciplinary dialogue. “We say we work in an interdisciplinary way, but we don’t actually always do the legwork that’s necessary for that to happen.”

The first podcast episode, like the first Beyond Disciplines event, looks at the emergence of CRISPR technology, a gene-editing tool that’s been making headlines. Experts who took part came from the Faculty’s Biology, Political Science, Journalism, and Philosophy departments.

“It was really interesting to see how some of this issue resonated beyond disciples,” says Lafontaine. “For instance, people in Biology were very concerned about the politics of CRISPR, so seeing these common concerns was very enlightening.”

“I am very proud of our "Pod Squad",” says Sawchuk. “Their work is a testament to the amazing talent we have within our Faculty. I hope this podcast will be a way for even more people to hear about the exciting work we have going on across so many disciplines.”

Now that the first episode has premiered, the Squad is looking forward to audiences hearing the next two episodes.

“Complex ideas cannot be reduced down to one person’s opinion, or a couple of social media posts,” says Besanger. “We need to be willing to listen to multiple perspectives, draw connections, and think through the messiness. Ultimately, I hope this podcast prompts listeners to consider the importance of interdisciplinary approaches to problem solving.”

Lafontaine hopes the audience will embrace the curiosity at heart of the Beyond Disciplines series. “I don’t necessarily hope they come away with answers, but definitely hope they come away with more questions!”

To listen to the first episode and read the transcript of the Beyond Disciplines podcast, "Editing our future with CRISPR", click here.

Back to top Back to top

© Concordia University