Free Mind podcast
taping session

The Free Mind, a new podcast from the Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization, premieres Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. 

The podcast explores topics in Western philosophy, politics, literature, and history with adventurous disregard for academic fashions and intellectual trends.

Host Shilo Brooks, Benson Center associate faculty director and faculty director of the Engineering Leadership Program in the College of Engineering and Applied Science, invites listeners to pull up a chair in an intellectual laboratory where great questions and great books are explored in the spirit of truth-seeking, and conversations are had in a candid style free of scholarly jargon. 

New episodes in Season 1 will air on the second Tuesday of each month, from Sept. 14 through Dec.14, 2021.

Visit The Free Mind podcast website to learn more, listen and subscribe.

Upcoming Episodes

Premieres Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021

Shilo Brooks, Benson Center Associate Faculty Director

"Introduction to the Free Mind Podcast"

In this brief opening segment, Shilo Brooks welcomes listeners to engage with professors and public intellectuals in a venue where good faith is granted at the door, and the clear and reasonable expression of ideas is valued more highly than adherence to any ideology or school of thought.

Airs Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021

Wayne Ambler, "The Enduring Importance of Rome"

Season One of The Free Mind podcast launches with a conversation between Shilo Brooks and Wayne Ambler, associate professor emeritus at CU Boulder and former dean and director of the Rome Program at the University of Dallas’ Rome Campus. Ambler explores the city’s historical development, its influence on Western Liberalism and the American Founding, the lessons it can teach today’s students, and its place in the broader history of political philosophy.

"Rome represents a reservoir of case studies, like no other place that I can think of. In its long history, it gives us all sorts of political and social problems that we can study. Social and political problems experienced by a sophisticated society on the grand scale."

Premieres Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021

Glenn Loury, "Unspeakable Truths about Racial Inequality in America"

Glenn Loury, the Merton P. Stoltz Professor of Economics at Brown University, is not only an acclaimed economic theorist, he’s also among the leading critics writing on racial inequality in America from a heterodox point of view.

"I know that for the sake of the dignity and self-respect of my people and for the future of my country, we American intellectuals of all colors must never lose sight of what a moral way of life consists in. And yet we are in danger of doing precisely that, I fear."

Premieres Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021

Lucas Morel, "The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass"

Lucas Morel is the John K. Boardman, Jr. Professor of Politics and head of the Politics Department at Washington and Lee University. In this episode Morel discusses Frederick Douglass: the political lessons of his autobiographies; his thoughts on freedom, religion, and the Constitution; and how his reflections on slavery and race enrich contemporary civil rights discussions.

"Douglass was asked one time, if you were president of the United States, what would you be known for? And after Douglass stopped laughing, he said equality under the law, equality under the law, that he was just rock solid on that." 

Airs Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021

Patty Limerick, "The Legacy of Conquest and the History of the American West"

History professor Patty Limerick is founding director of the CU Boulder Center of the American West, and author of The Legacy of Conquest. We explore her challenge to, and affection for, the myth of the West, the continuing relevance of applied history, and the role humor should play in public and academic discourse.

“We so have to remember about the people of the past is that they live on the edge of a future that they cannot see, which we will see because time has rolled on, and they did not have that privilege.”

Premieres Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021

Jeff Black, "The Great Books and Liberal Education" 

Jeff Black is a professor at St. John’s College, a unique great books college with campuses in Annapolis, Maryland and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Black explores what the so-called “great books” are, how reading them can provide a liberal education, and why they’re more relevant than ever in today’s political and cultural landscape.

"I think if the book is truly great, what you find is that it has two qualities, and I call those qualities intensity and extent or comprehensiveness."

Premieres Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021

Joshua Katz, "Cancel Culture and its Discontents"

Joshua Katz is Costen Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Classics at Princeton. Katz’s uncontroversial intellectual pursuits and his warm and fair-minded demeanor make the story of his attempted "cancellation" at Princeton all the more surprising. Katz reflects on his experience and discusses potential threats to the truth-seeking mission of higher education.

"Outside marginal though very important exceptions, such as child pornography and incitement to violence, free speech is a bedrock principle. It is an American principle, not a partisan matter. And if we cannot agree even on this, then we truly are lost as a nation."

Premieres Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021

Colleen Sheehan, "Jane Austen's Emma"

The final episode of Season One features Colleen Sheehan, professor of political science and director of graduate studies at Arizona State University’s School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. Sheehan discusses what makes Jane Austen’s characters so enduring, the lessons Austen teaches about love in her novel Emma, and what readers can learn from Austen’s complex use of language and penetrating psychological insights into human nature.

"I think with Austen, it's the combination of just how incredibly brilliant and insightful and witty and provocative she is....She never lectures us, but she shows us how we could become better people and how that might lead us down a path to a happier life." 

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