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Podcasting Class Amplifies Student Voices as Tennessee Valley Crossroads Premieres

Microphone surrounded by students.

Podcasting Class Amplifies Student Voices as ‘Tennessee Valley Crossroads’ Premieres

Podcasting as a Platform for Constructive Dialogue

In an exciting new initiative at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, students enrolled in an honors-level class focused on podcasting are creating their unique audio content, with a distinctive focus. They’re using this audio platform not only to share their voices but also to explore diverse viewpoints and foster understanding across the board.

Last semester, the class, led by PodLab manager and instructor Will Davis, began the process of creating the podcast Tennessee Valley Crossroads. The project’s premise is simple: to allow students to sit down and converse about the things that matter to them, sharing and appreciating different perspectives along the way.

Building the Project

At the beginning of the course, the participating students were asked to submit a survey exploring their views on topics such as social and economic policies, and religion. They then were paired with other students whose views directly opposed theirs, and they were tasked with having a 30-minute discussion about these topics and beliefs. The result of each interaction was cut down into a three-and-a-half-minute podcast episode, set to air on WUTC-FM 88.1, the university’s National Public Radio station.

“Not So Different After All”

As introduced by students David Elliott and Sylvia Denton, the primary goal of the podcast is to break down barriers and encourage understanding among students. In a time where social media often highlights differences rather than similarities, the foundational idea behind the project is a refreshing take on dialogue within an educational setting.

Instructor Will Davis explains that the concept for this series came from an earlier project, “One Small Step”, by StoryCorps, where strangers with conflicting political views were brought together for a conversation. The goal? To highlight the humanity in each other and find shared experiences, despite potential areas of disagreement.

Crossroads in the Tennessee Valley

This year, the students decided to put a more focused spotlight on their voices, creating the podcast series ‘Tennessee Valley Crossroads.’ True to its name, the podcast created a platform to encourage dialogue despite political or religious differences. With a friendly jest at UTC’s Crossroads Dining Hall, the chosen series title didn’t fail to impress and amuse.

Turning the conversation from a debate to a dialogue, Davis and his students aspired to develop a culture of empathy and understanding within the student body. The belief being, with increased contact and sharing of experiences, it would be harder to hold prejudice against others.

Creating a Safe Environment to Share Personal Beliefs

Two seniors at the university, Ava Nessell and Adriel Poo Armas, who hail from different departments – Communication, and Computer Science respectively, shared that they fostered a deeper sense of understanding about each other through the process, despite having vastly different backgrounds. It was not about converting each other’s beliefs or winning arguments but about understanding the build-up of their individual belief systems. The sessions were not confrontational but harmonious, leading to a better understanding of each other.

After participating in this enriching experience, students reportedly started being more present with their peers, putting away their phones and engaging more with each other in class. Davis noticed a fundamental shift in attitudes, not just among the students, but within himself as well. He understood the power of finding common ground despite differences and shared experiences.

Get Involved: How to Listen

Those interested in hearing these stories of social cohesion and deeper understanding can tune in to the WUTC-FM 88.1 ‘Morning Edition’ on Mondays at 7:45 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. and ‘All Things Considered’ at 4:29 p.m. Alternately, they can listen to previous episodes online.

With its focus on fostering a culture of empathy, the Tennessee Valley Crossroads podcast promises to be a compelling listen for all who tune in. It serves as an inspiration for other campuses and communities, paving the way for more conversations that value empathy over winning debates.

Author: HERE News Network
Source: HERE News Network

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