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Tune in to uni'hören

The new series of audio podcasts focuses on questions about current and future developments from the point of view of researchers at the University of Freiburg

Freiburg, Jan 25, 2022

Whether it’s research into climate change, artificial intelligence, health, justice, civil defense, or voter behavior, the University of Freiburg’s new research podcast uni’hören invites researchers from various fields to talk about their work and the challenges facing today’s society. The experts are interviewed by the political journalist Stephanie Geißler, who works for such news sources as ARD and SWR.

Episode 7: Freiburg thoughts served as inspiration (in German)


Is it possible to structure an economy in such a way that it is both functional and yet still recognizes human dignity? This question engrossed Walter Eucken at the University of Freiburg as long ago as the 1930s. Today he is seen as the spiritual father of the social market economy. The economist founded the Freiburg School, the most renowned expression of Ordoliberalism: he believed that the foundations for the unimpeded development of companies and successful competition lay in “Ordo”, a framework established by politicians, and that for the most part, the State should stay out of competitive activities, only stepping in if, for example, powerful, anticompetitive cartels and monopolies arise.

In the uni’hören podcast, economist Prof. Dr. Tim Krieger from the Chair for Constitutional Political Economy and Competition Policy explains aspects of Walter Eucken’s thinking that can still be seen in today’s social market economy. In addition he takes an ordoliberal view of the financial and corona crisis and explains why it was important for Germany to help pandemic-stricken European countries.

Part 6: What's the Buzz? (in German)

“I’ve got to be neutral. I can’t take either the side of the farmers, or that of the conservationists,” says University of Freiburg ecologist Prof. Dr. Alexandra-Maria Klein about the standards she sets for her research. The results of her work will decide which insecticides will remain in use and which ones will be banned. The expert in conservation and landscape ecology is taking a close look at bees. There are more than 20 thousand species of them world-wide, and for Klein it is clear that each insect has different needs. Klein and her team are researching the effects different types of pesticides have on different bees. In the uni’hören podcast the researcher explains why honeybees are not a representative group for testing pesticides, why society should show more respect for farmers, and why there is a species of bee that bears her name on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

Episode 5: The anger of those left behind (in German)

Movements like “Black Lives Matter” and “Me Too” have increasingly come to the U.S. media’s attention in recent years, thereby impacting the current political and cultural debate. The working-class, on the other hand, has not taken the public stage to empower itself. “Many of these people feel forgotten and alienated in their own country,” says Prof. Dr. Sieglinde Lemke. Disgruntlement, anger and fear of being left behind socially and financially are spreading and contributing to radicalization and polarization. Many of these people are posing questions such as whether or not minorities should now get the well-paying jobs and public recognition, for example. The American studies and cultural studies scholar from Freiburg researches the precarious world of the U.S. working class – the once glorified American dream has long been left in tatters, even Hollywood has realized that by now. In the podcast uni'hören, Lemke talks about the downside of the neoliberal economic system, the political course of U.S. President Joe Biden and the question of how a differentiated view of poverty conditions is reflected in mainstream books, series and films.

Episode 4: Swipe first, vote later (in German)

State parliamentary elections are taking place in Baden-Württemberg on 14 March 2021. Those who’d like to inform themselves ahead of time can use the VoteSwiper. The app presents information about the parties vying for votes, including their platforms and positions on issues such as education, security, migration, finance, or transportation. With a swipe to the left or right, voters can find out which parties are closest to their own positions on the issues. The University of Freiburg political scientist Uwe Wagschal and his team would like the app to be a decision-making tool for voters. During the uni’hören podcast, the public opinion and polling researcher will also describe which political constellations are likely to play a prominent role in the coming state parliamentary elections, how postal voting influences voter choices, and why forecasting poll outcomes can be problematic.

Episode 3: The imbalances of the world (in German)

Some mistakes go down in the annals of history. In 1507 Martin Waldseemüller, a Freiburg student, created a world map in which he named a certain land mass “America” for the first time. The cartographer believed the mariner Amerigo Vespucci had discovered the double continent. The name stuck and Christopher Columbus went empty-handed. For sociology professor Manuela Boatcă, however, the story illustrates another misjudgment based on a distorted perspective. European world conquerors are seen as having “discovered” and appropriated a territory that has been home to an indigenous population for centuries. In the podcast uni’hören, the sociologist talks about issues of postcolonialism and her work addressing global inequalities. She addresses questions such as what are the implications of EU states selling citizenships to private individuals? What would it mean for global migration to remove state borders? And to what extent did the reappraisal of the Cologne New Year’s Eve of 2015/16 fuel clichés from colonial times?

Episode 2: The Double Black Box (in German)

For Dr. Philipp Kellmeyer, a wall painting in the Neurocenter of the University Medical Center Freiburg, illustrates the essence of his work. The painting shows a human and a robot facing each other. Their arms are outstretched as they carefully touch the head of the other with their fingertips. “Humans and robots have to learn how to find common ground,” says Kellmeyer. However, researchers still do not completely understand how the two systems human and machine function. In the second episode of our uni’hören podcast, Kellmeyer, who is a neurologist and neuroethics expert, talks about the current debates about artificial intelligence. Should humanoid robots be granted rights in the future? Can virtual reality glasses help to treat patients suffering from forms of dementia? And is there any real good reason why the pain of a broken heart can’t just be erased from our brains?

Episode 1: Eat your peels! (in German)

Fennel, lamb’s lettuce, bell peppers, a few carrots, turnips, nuts, and legumes are all things that can be found in Prof. Dr. Dr. Karin Michels’ shopping basket. She has just returned from the farmers’ market on the Münster square, which is the perfect illustration of her current research. Michels, who is head of the Institute for Prevention and Cancer Epidemiology at the University Medical Center Freiburg, is studying how nutrition can protect people from illnesses such as cancer and diabetes. In the first installment of the podcast uni’hören, produced by the University of Freiburg, Michels tells listeners about healthy and unhealthy foods, the effects of current food trends, new research into intestinal flora, and the largest health study worldwide.