Want to spend a fun and interesting 45 minutes with some amazing La Follette School professors? Tune into 1050 Bascom, the Department of Political Science podcast produced by Director of Undergraduate Engagement Amy Gangl and hosted by students Adam Wigger and Sam Buisman.
In a collaboration launched this spring, the podcast regularly features La Follette School faculty and staff as they share stories about their career paths and research.
In a recent episode, Assistant Professor Lauren Schmitz describes her path from high school to eight years as a professional ballet dancer to an academic career in economics. On her daily subway rides to New York City’s New School, she “rode the entire income distribution to get to class,” starting in poverty-ridden Crown Heights and ending in Union Square among some of the wealthiest people in the world.
“You can’t take that trip every day,” she says, “and not think about capitalism, not think about how it’s really powerfully shaping people’s access to opportunities, shaping people’s lives in structural ways that they might not always be able to overcome.” This daily subway epiphany led to a career studying how social exposures and genetic diversity contribute to health and educational attainment.
In another episode, La Follette School Director Susan Webb Yackee traces her academic interests to discussions around her family’s dinner table. Her father, a federal judge appointed by President Ronald Reagan, and her mother, a “super soup-kitchen liberal,” encouraged active debates about “ideas, solutions, compromises, and politics.”
Yackee also discusses her research on the guidance documents that explain to businesses and citizens how to comply with federal law. She takes a topic that sounds dry in the abstract and vividly describes how well-crafted public policy could make guidance documents a vital tool in a thriving democracy.
Other interviews feature Menzie Chinn on the pandemic’s impact on international finance and global trade, Greg Nemet on the connections between environmental policy and technological change, and Mannny Teodoro on policies governing water and public utilities, just to name a few. Every episode is a guided tour of yet another fascinating area in the public policy landscape. Summer episodes will dive into current events, with repeat appearances by La Follette School faculty.
Listen to the podcasts on the 1050 Bascom web page, which also includes links to the series on SoundCloud and Spotify.