An illustration of a microphone, headphones, a record button and speech bubbles denotes the information shared in a podcast created by Professor Joy James' students.

Looking Outwards

Looking Outwards

For the new senior seminar Cuba, U.S., Africa and Resistance to Black Enslavement, 1791-1991, 12 students spent the fall semester deeply engaged in the “entwined histories of liberation movements against racism, enslavement and imperialism.” They then connected those histories to the present day, interviewing alumni working in civil rights and human rights for a six-episode podcast now available online.

The idea for the podcast, called “Captivity, Betrayal and Community,” was largely student-driven, says Joy James, Williams’ Ebenezer Fitch Professor of Humanities. Seeking to make the final project for the course experiential, she asked the students for their input.

“They were reading about trauma and violence,” James says. “They were tracking how traditions of dishonor and exploitation were being reproduced. They needed an outlet, and writing a 15- to 20-page paper wouldn’t cut it.”

The students worked in pairs, selecting interview subjects, developing questions and hiring another student not enrolled in the course to help edit the interviews into hour-long episodes. One student composed the music. They also wrote final papers reflecting on the experience. As the students explained in the introduction to the podcast, their goal was “focusing on looking outwards and connecting with Williams alumni to get a more practical understanding of our class’s thematic focus.”

The result, James says, was “brilliant. Our students stepped up. They put the imprint down in the Williams logo. And they called out for ethics. That’s as good as it gets.”

Listen to the podcast—and learn more about the Williams College Just Futures Project that it’s part of—on the project website.

—Amy Lovett