Hauenstein Center podcast talks political ideas

By Kyle Bindas | 9/7/16 9:23pm

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GVL / Kevin Sielaff - Gleaves Whitney pays tribute to Ralph Hauenstein before the start of Senator Warren's wheelhouse talk at Loosemore Auditorium on Grand Valley's Pew Campus Jan. 22, 2016.

by Kevin Sielaff / Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University has created a way to hear conversations with high-caliber intellectuals from a phone or computer. The Common Ground podcast is a weekly podcast hosted at GVSU that discusses a variety of political ideas and perspectives.

Joseph Hogan, GVSU alumnus and former director of the Common Ground Initiative is the host of the podcast. Every week features a different guest on the show, who discusses ideas relating to culture and politics on both the left and the right. The show features conversations these guests have had with Hogan, as well as excerpts from presentations they have given about their ideas and experiences.

Journalists, historians and professors from around the country have been featured on the show. Louis Menand, a professor of English at Harvard, Eugene Joseph Dionne Jr. a columnist for the Washington Post, and Maureen Corrigan, a book critic for NPR and author have appeared on the show.

“The first goal of the podcast is education," Hogan said. "People are listening to podcasts now quite a lot and it’s a great way for people to just become more educated voters, and more educated citizens."

This podcast acts as a tool for the Common Ground initiative to spread ideas beyond the walls of GVSU.

Gleaves Whitney, director of the Hauenstein Center, said this is the first weekly podcast any institute at GVSU has launched.

“It occurred to staff and to me that we needed to have a broader platform to talk about common ground," Whitney said. “It’s been to us the next logical step to reach a national, and even an international audience.”

The podcast has gathered some attention along with a regular listening audience since its release in July. When the podcast launched, it was listed as "new and noteworthy" on iTunes, said Scott St. Louis, Common Ground program manager.

Since its launch, the podcast has been downloaded almost 1,800 times, said Travis Wheeler, marketing and communications specialist at the Hauenstein Center.

“We receive over 100 plays a week, and that number has grown to over 150 a week more recently,” Wheeler said via email.

The podcast is part of the Hauenstein Center’s Common Ground Initiative, a project created to help develop a dialogue and understanding in a divided political landscape.

“It’s not about bringing progressives and conservatives together in some magical moment of perfect agreement,” St. Louis said. “But what it is about is casting a critical light on the differences between progressives and conservatives, in order to illuminate those areas of shared understanding and shared commitment.”

The initiative hosts both liberal and conservative speakers in a series of speeches and debates at GVSU.

“We encourage these groups, the conservatives and progressives to come together to discuss their differences and possibly to find common ground," Whitney said. “We’re the only institution of higher education in the U.S. that has that as an explicit goal.”

America is home to a vast variety of different viewpoints and Hogan hopes his podcast will provide a way to build understanding between people with different points of view.

“It feels more and more like the country both politically and culturally is being torn apart." Hogan said. “Part of the problem is that many of us simply don’t understand the positions of the other side. We really just want people to talk constructively and meaningfully about political issues.”

Whitney said there has been positive feedback about the podcast from the GVSU community.

“We hope more and more students will access it and use it to augment their intellectual formation while they're here at Grand Valley,” Whitney said. “What a great way to supplement what they’re getting in the classroom.”

The list of episodes can be found on the Hauenstein Center’s website, as well as on SoundCloud and iTunes.

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