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South Carolina Honors College

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Podcasting in the Public’s Interest

By Kim Overmier,

Dr. Laura Smith’s Podcasting in the Public Interest service-learning course creates opportunities for Honors students to study and critically reflect on public issues while learning how to interview, design and publish podcasts that can help raise awareness.

The service-learning component of the course requires students to complete 20 hours of service that are mutually beneficial to a service partner and the students. Students have the opportunity to meet and learn from a variety of guest speakers throughout the course as they learn about the needs of different organizations and how the podcasts they create can help address these needs.

“What I like most about teaching this podcast class is learning by doing.  Students come in the door thinking they’re going to learn about podcasting.  They leave as actual podcasters.  They get lots of new, hands-on skills – tackling storytelling from idea generation and field gathering, to technical editing and production, to air.  Some are scared at first, but many wind up doing amazing, creative work,” said Dr. Smith, a lecturer in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications and a 2019 recipient of UofSC’s Garnet Apple Award for Teaching Innovation.

Students enjoy Dr. Smith’s approach to the course, saying, “Dr. Smith let[s] us tailor the class to our interests and g[ives] us lots of individual attention. Plus, all of our assignments turn into real pieces.”

Through various assignments throughout the course, students learn about their chosen organization so that they can develop a podcast that addresses their organization’s needs. Podcasts have featured organizations such as Mutual Aid Midlands and Meals on Wheels Greenville, and they allow students to explore specific issues, such as how COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted some groups like teachers.

“Not only does their content end up as episodic content on Garnet Media’s podcast page, other WUSC-FM producers and podcast creators use it as well,” said Smith.

Students are also given the opportunity to help local service partners, like Cocky’s Reading Express. Dr. Smith’s most recent group of students recorded a series of readings for the organization that are now accessible to young students across the world to help them continue to develop their literacy skills.  

LIsten to the podcasts here by choosing Season Two: Corona Chronicles.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.