Sociology Podcasts Further Scholarship, Teach Skills

Two recently debuted podcasts are increasing awareness about sociology while simultaneously providing valuable skills to students. The podcasts come from the classroom of Associate Professor Ramon Hinojosa, Ph.D.

Free the Mind Free the People, is a student-led podcast that tackles major questions about the inner workings of society by drawing from core sociological concepts.

“They take on different topics, like critical race theory for instance. For that, they dissected a poem by Mari Evans where they looked at issues of privilege and power in society and what that means,” Hinojosa said.

Having written for, directed, and produced documentaries on sociological concepts, Hinojosa intertwines his passion for sociology and skills in media production. So, when master’s students in Sociology Marian Rivera and Halley Spencer decided to create a sociology podcast, they knew who to ask for help.

“We chose to work with Dr. Hinojosa because of his commitment to public sociology and experience in producing educational content for broad audiences, including the Crash Course Sociology series,” said Rivera. Hinojosa worked as a content advisor for the educational YouTube series. “It was this combination of expertise and passion for making sociology accessible to the masses that made Dr. Hinojosa the ideal mentor for [Free the Mind Free the People]”.

Hinojosa provides guidance in script writing for Free the Mind Free the People to maintain the balance between authentic conversation and in-depth theoretical discussions.

“When Halley and I first began writing the podcast episodes, Dr. Hinojosa showed us the importance of having a well-organized script that made room for both. We quickly learned that producing a podcast that is both educational and entertaining requires a lot more time and research than we expected. However, his advice has allowed us to produce content that is grounded in sociology while also being relatable to the personal experiences of listeners.”

During this collaborative writing process, Halley Spencer said Hinojosa highlighted the freedom they have when it comes to distributing sociological concepts.

“The most impactful thing Dr. Hinojosa did was remind us of our personal agency. Now, as we started getting a bit of notoriety in the department, he reminded us that we must stay true to our values and not let anyone sway us. Who cares if it’s not the work of ‘traditional academics’? We are the ones in control of our podcast, he let us know, and we don’t have to listen to anyone else,” said Spencer. “He truly trusts our vision and ability. It was extremely meaningful to have that support throughout our work to create something that the Sociology department has never had before.”

Hinojosa also spearheads the production of Uniquely UCF Sociology, a podcast that showcases the research of scholars in the sociology department at UCF. With Hinojosa as the host, each episode features a guest from the department to delve into their field.

“We have people in sociology who are leaders in their fields, they are recognized names in the actual scientific areas in which they are working. What I wanted to do is highlight that work so students who are just looking at the program, or graduate students who are looking for a place to be, can get a sense of what we do here and who they might come to study with,” said Hinojosa.

With student writers, editors and hosts, both podcasts also serve as opportunities for students to gain experience in media production. Hinojosa is currently mentoring Undergraduate Computer Science Student, Ethan Fuller, who is the executive editor for both podcasts.

“We have a small team of undergraduate students who Ethan is leading, so I’m mentoring Ethan on how to guide a production crew for both of the shows,” said Hinojosa. “Their role is to listen to the raw cut of the episode and see if there are any flow issues, or things that the editors missed. The idea is to give them experience with how they might approach editing something like this for clarity.”

The publication of these podcasts is a realization of Hinojosa’s goal of sparking “Public Sociology”.

“We mentor students a lot in terms of writing, and a limited amount in terms of how to teach in a classroom. But one of the things that I think that sociologists don’t do a very good job of is mentoring people to reach out to the public. We’ve got all these great ideas, it’s just that they get stuck in these journals where they get stuck in the classroom. I wanted to mentor a generation of media savvy students to think about applying the lessons that they’re learning, to engage in more public outreach,” said Hinojosa.

“The big picture behind this is, that if you make information more accessible, maybe you’ll reach people who wouldn’t have normally gravitated towards sociological orientations toward society,”

Listen to Free the Mind Free the People:



Listen to Uniquely UCF Sociology

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