New York University: NYU Research into Inequality Brought to Life in New Podcast Series

Challenges to voter access in the 2020 election. A collaborative global jazz ensemble inspired by the Kuwaiti pearl diving music of the Indian Ocean trade. And the impact of growing diversity in the film industry on the onscreen stories that shape our culture.
These subjects are the focus of the first three episodes of Ignite Change: Impactful Storytelling Through Audio, a new podcasting fellowship designed to bolster students’ careers in audio while examining issues of inequality with NYU researchers. The fellowship is a partnership between the Cross-Cutting Initiative on Inequality, the NYU Production Lab, and the Wasserman Center for Career Development.

With an estimated 117.8 million monthly podcast listeners in the US alone, the fellowship helps NYU students leverage the ongoing growth potential of the podcasting medium while learning the storytelling and producing skills that are unique to audio. The fellows—whose backgrounds range from theatre, film, journalism, and radio—participated in a series of workshops and feedback sessions designed to help them learn skills in project management, storytelling, writing, interviewing, and recording to produce the original audio stories that bring new insights to the NYU community and highlight the impact of groudbreaking NYU research.
“The Ignite Fellowship helped me realize my potential as a producer, which is something I had never considered before. I absolutely loved it. I
had never realized the creative, collaborative, directive, journalistic nature of the medium and I now see a future for myself in this role. This program opened up a whole career trajectory for me that I don’t think I would have pursued otherwise” – Anna Vernarchik, fellow.
The first three episodes in the podcast are available on several major platforms, including Spotify and Apple iTunes, and shine a light on the various ways inequality can manifest across industries and around the globe. The first episode, “By the People, For the People: The Vote 2020 Initiative,” considers how crisis after crisis—from the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic to the nationwide reckoning with racial inequity—was a powerful opportunity to push American voters to the ballot box. But how did they show up on election day?

“Uncovering Bridges” is told through the music that inspired research into the Kuwaiti pearl diving trade and the lives of those who risked their lives for the precious gems. The story reflects on the difference between tradition and heritage, national identity, and includes practical examples of what cultural sharing can look like.

“From Behind the Scenes to On the Screens” examines whether diversity behind the camera translates to diversity on the screen through interviews with emerging and established female filmmakers of color.

The 2021 fellows include Anna Venarchik, Eugene Markin, Mary Cecilia Walker, Neeta Thadani, Beryl Liu, Mateo Cruz, Susan Pinchiaroli, Iván Budnik Pereira, Cate Hynes, Malcolm “Mack” Walker, Matthew Lai, and Toby Frederick Tinson.

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