From Journalism to Scholarship: 3620 Podcast Series Launches New Season

Who says podcasts are an old communication medium? Not the doctoral students at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication. There, graduate and undergraduate students have kicked off the third season of the weekly 3620 podcast series. They are taking a fresh new look at how podcasts can be used, not only as journalistic medium, but also as a forum for producing original scholarship.            

The new season started on September 9 with a segment on sonic scholarship – in other words, what scholarship sounds like. According to 3620 producer and host Kevin Gotkin, a third-year doctoral student at Annenberg, the segment, and the series as a whole, seeks to re-imagine the boundaries of an academic culture focused on producing printed pieces of scholarly work.            

“Creating sound as scholarship is not just a cheeky way to have fun in media,” said Gotkin, who was recently named Media Scholarship Fellow. “It’s really quite revolutionary as we learn how to communicate beyond paper and written text with a medium that is only now being considered as a vector for scholarship.”            

While 3620 has morphed from a purely extracurricular activity to one through which original research is conducted and communicated, Gotkin is quick to point out that not all of the new season’s segments will be scholarly works. Some will be purely journalistic, based on the interests and activities of the individual producers on his team.            

For example, for the September 16 episode, Gotkin interviews Annenberg Professor Carolyn Marvin, who recounts her controversial 1989 flag-burning on Penn’s campus – an act designed to be a pedagogical exercise to jolt students out of their complacency.            

The September 30 episode, produced by doctoral student Eleanor Marchant, details her summer of 2013 experiences working as an International Fellow at iHub Research in Kenya, an applied research arm of a technology incubator. While there, she also acted as a teacher and student mentor at a pilot summer program to help improve local capacity in research.

“There’s something transformative about creating these episodes,” Gotkin notes. “As a team, we get to really think about how we talk about the ideas we’re interested in. It’s become a useful part of what it means to be a doctoral student.”            

While Gotkin says he is excited about this newest season of 3620, he also is looking forward to next semester, when a new Media Scholarship Fellow will be named and will take over the executive producer and host duties.            

“I’ve been happy and honored to launch 3620 and guide it through its first three seasons," he explains. “Feedback has been incredible. Participation has grown among Annenberg students and other Penn students from a variety of study areas and generations. We’re also collaborating with and receiving kudos from researchers and media scholars at other institutions.”

“3620 has quickly become an institutional home for those interested in media production and digital scholarship. My hope is that it is a source of inspiration for Annenberg students for years to come."