Update: We’ve reached the original goal of $1,000! That’s great. We’re upping the goal to $2,000 to see if we can attract more support for UMass undergrads. The additional funds will continue to go, first, to the Politics of the End of the World class—all episodes of which will be open to the public. Again, we will also use additional funds to help produce a resource for political science and international relations students and faculty everywhere: a podcast series of interviews with people who went from undergrad to careers in those fields. These funds will support undergraduate student workers for this project.
The course The Politics of the End of the World helps students explore a topic that’s central to how societies evolve but which we often want to push out of our minds: the literal end of the world. This Honors course helps 24 students come to grips with what it means that their world, and every world, will eventually end.
Students explore apocalypses by researching, writing, and producing 20 to 30-minute episodes of an original podcast, Final Examination (available here and on Spotify and other podcasting platforms). In the Fall 2018 course, students looked at ends of the world in Massachusetts history, from the “Praying Indians” (Christianized Native communities in the 17th century) to the way that climate change is affecting coastal Massachusetts towns right now. Along the way, they interviewed a member of Congress, composed original music, and learned more about themselves and about their society. These episodes are available for the public to listen to and learn from.
Completing this course requires equipment and resources. In normal times, the UMass Library’s podcast equipment and recording booths would be a central resource for students. But those resources aren’t available to students as a result of the pandemic. Rather than cancel a course on the apocalypse because society is facing a calamity, however, we’ve decided to press ahead with this class.
We’re asking for your support to help the students acquire equipment that they can use to create the new season of Final Examination as part of The Politics of the End of the World. This will include microphones, audio recorders, and other tools the students will decide will be necessary. Any equipment purchased will be used for this and other courses and will remain University property. Funds may also be used to acquire rights for music or other sound effects as part of producing a podcast. We would like to provide each of the four groups with a budget of at least $250 to procure what they believe they will need.
We would also like to create additional opportunities for students to learn the creative, technical, and organizational processes associated with running a podcast. Any funds raised above the amount necessary for this season will be used to sponsor student workers to help with a podcast interviewing former undergraduate political science majors working in political science-related fields about how to turn their degrees into a career. We want to help students understand what paths are open to them, and how to turn their studies into a vocation.