How an in-class writing assignment became a national podcast

March 12, 2020 | Society
What began as a writing project across cohorts in the Bachelor of Child and Youth Care program has expanded into a podcast reaching child and youth care students, workers and faculty across Canada.

Associate Professor Dr. Ahna Berikoff and her students did not set out to make a podcast. Rather, Pass the Mic emerged out of a writing project and the students’ desire to discuss the complexity of identity and experiences as it relates to limitations in curriculum and teaching in a university setting.

Not all students feel like they belong or that they are represented at the university they attend, and Ahna wanted her students to have a forum in which to have these big and sometimes challenging conversations that happen in child and youth care.

“Some of our students really enjoy writing and have all kinds of ways of writing creatively,” says Ahna. It was while one of the writing groups was brainstorming how they could be more effective that the topic of podcasting came up. “Of course, it has great appeal because podcasts are emerging in so many places now and they’re a really accessible way to have these conversations.”

The name, Pass the Mic, came from the idea of providing a forum for students to take centre stage and express themselves.

Conversations about mental health, gender roles, Indigenous identity and knowledge, religious orientation, racialization, disabilities and more — many of which overlap reflecting students’ intersecting and complex identities — are featured in episodes of the podcast.

Engaging in discussions based on topics of identity and related experiences has the potential to prepare students more fully when working in the field, where they will be providing support to children, youth and families faced with intersecting experiences of oppression due to social inequity. Ahna and the students hope that their peers studying and working in child and youth care across the country will be able to relate and engage in these conversations too.

“Through the podcast, we can generate conversations within the program and beyond,” Ahna says.



Using podcasts to have big conversations

Sometimes a conversation is too big for the classroom, so with a series or interview style for everyone, podcasts have become the next big storytelling adventure at MacEwan.


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