Illustration by Alexandra Najm

Podcasts: A Popular Medium Making Its Way Onto Campus

With their short duration and potential for intimate conversations, podcasts are more relevant than ever. The newly launched Research Abridged podcast from the Arts and Humanities Division provides a glimpse into faculty research.

Mar 28, 2021

In a year otherwise defined by loss, the visually driven world shattered in front of our eyes. Movie theaters closed and blockbusters were delayed. Music and theater venues remained unapproachable. And yet, one medium persisted — podcasts. With their shorter duration and potential for intimate conversations, podcasts have become more immediate and relevant than ever before. The NYU Abu Dhabi community is no exception to this trend, as podcasts are proliferating on campus.
Research Abridged: Arts and Humanities
On Feb. 15, the NYUAD Arts and Humanities Division launched the first episode of Research Abridged, a podcast showcasing faculty research from the A&H Division. The idea came up when remote work started last year.
“One of the things we wanted to do was forge relationships and foster communities, and of course we couldn't do that while interacting in real life,” said Muhimma Sulaiman, Communications Coordinator of the A&H Division. Sulaiman shared that the Research Abridged podcast offers a unique opportunity for faculty divisions to collaborate and share knowledge while creating a bridge between researchers, students and the general public.
“It can be sometimes surprisingly difficult to find out what our neighbors are working on and identify those possibilities for collaboration and synergy. This podcast is one of the ways in which we can help the members of our community to find one another and identify common interests,” explained Sarah Paul, Associate Dean for Research and Professional Development and Associate Professor of Philosophy.
Caitlin Newsom, Assistant Manager of Administration at the A&H Division, addressed the importance of the podcast: “It’s very easy when you think of a scientist to think of what their research is, [while] the work that's done by the professors of A&H might not be so easily assumed to be research… so it’s a nice platform to communicate that out to the rest of the community: here is the work that we're doing and contributing.”
For students, this podcast offers a chance to gain a deeper understanding of topics outside of class while listening to professors explain their research in a more accessible manner.
“It's nice to hear from [professors] directly, especially as a student it's very, very interesting,” said Zineb Louali, Class of 2023 and host of the podcast.
She touched upon how she prepared to host the Research Abridged episodes: “I try to research a bit more about the professor and the areas that they study. Based on that, I get the questions that I would ask if I was a student [in] their class. I'm very curious about the process [of] how ideas are formed, and my favorite part of the whole process is finding the questions that I want to ask.”
“[It’s] a challenge to create conversations that are exciting and that step away from the Zoom fatigue,” Sulaiman observed. “I think that's something Zineb handles really well because she asks great questions and our faculty are very interesting, so they always have great responses.”
Podcasting beyond NYUAD’s A&H Division
In addition to Research Abridged, the NYUAD community produces other podcasts as well. The team behind REACH, a student led group concerned with the mental and physical wellbeing of the community, creates the podcast REACH Talks, and the Senior Year Experience committee produces Leaving the Nest. Mowafiq Alanazi, Associate Director of Student Leaders Program, hosts Torch Igniters, a conversation with leaders across campus.
Mauricio Yañez, Class of 2021 and host of Leaving the Nest, believes in the importance of podcasts as a platform for diverse voices and an opportunity to share ideas with a wider audience. “If we can have more people doing podcasts on different topics… [we] can show what the future can look like in a globalized world,” Yañez shared. “I think we genuinely are in an environment where everybody has such a unique and inspiring story to tell… and I think that we should be sharing these conversations with the world.”
Just last year, Spotify saw an increase in podcasts offered from 700,000 to 2.2 million. So why are podcasts on the rise? In a way, they offer respite from excessive screen time and fatigue, allowing you to simply listen and learn from experts in a given field.
“[Twitter, Instagram and Facebook] don’t allow for important conversations to be fleshed out and talked about and go into the depth we as people crave as learners, as [beings] looking for a connection,” explained Yañez. The audio format allows the listener to multitask — they usually put on a podcast on their speakers and do various activities in their home.
For some, the continued growth of podcasts seems inevitable. Sulaiman shared that the feedback for Research Abridged has been nothing short of positive, and people from different divisions at NYUAD have reached out to express interests in participating in future episodes. The team is planning on expanding their work on the podcast with other NYUAD institutions and A&H Division projects. “We're already looking into collaborating with the NYUAD Art Gallery and, hopefully, in the future with the Arts Center,” explained Sulaiman, in addition to the possibility of hosting student researchers as guests. Paul added that the team hopes this podcast can help students decide which professors to reach out to for research or Capstone projects.
It is crucial that communication and collaboration never cease to exist in these extraordinary times, and podcasts are a perfect example of how valuable conversations continue to be.
The Research Abridged podcast can be found on NYU Stream, with new episodes to be released soon.
Stefan Mitikj is a staff writer. Email him at
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