Though She Must Teach Remotely, Philosophy Lecturer’s Podcast Reinforces Human Connection

Lecturer of Philosophy Chris Rawls' podcast supplements online learning for students in her four classes, keeping students engaged, offering comfort and entertainment alongside academic enrichment.

This story is part of a series highlighting RWU's innovative, student-centered approaches to education, with classes online for the remainder of the semester

By Julia Rubin
Screenshot of "Virtual Philosophy W/Dr. Chris" podcast

From Confucius to Childish Gambino, Lecturer of Philosophy Chris Rawls references leaders of all kinds in her podcast, “Virtual Philosophy W/ Dr. Chris.”

Episodes like “Courage in the Face of Absurdity,” “Love thy Neighbor,” and “Stayin’ Alive While Putting Kant & a New Metaphysics in Motion,” are sources of human connection as much as they are academic experiences. 

Rawls created the podcast for students in her four courses when COVID-19 began impacting the United States and discussion about switching to remote learning began. Now that all courses are online, the podcast is a creative supplement to her live audio courses on Bridges. 

The inspiration to use this platform came partially from Rawls’ background as an outpatient clinical counselor.

“I remembered my voice helps people, so the recording could be a sound that could be soothing,” she said. “I also knew I had a good rapport with my students, so they might respond to what I say, which is why I wanted to be funny and responsible, but realistic, which they have appreciated.”

Rawls has recorded eleven episodes so far. Her approach, which combines philosophical analysis with authentic human connection, has really resonated with students. 

First-year Political Science and Philosophy major Jessica Taddeo finds this format, and Rawls’ style of delivery, helps her engage more deeply with the material she’s learning. 

“It feels more personal in such a way that I still feel like I am getting a true classroom experience,” Taddeo said. “Knowing she spends her free time finding ways to make sure her students stay engaged and feel cared for really strikes a chord with me. Philosophy can be extremely challenging, but these podcasts that she integrates with music, art and her personal touch make difficult texts and complex ideas feel more approachable.”

Rawls has found that students are even more engaged in their classes than before. 

“I usually have a participation requirement, but the first thing I did was get rid of that, considering what they’re all going through,” she said. “They have better participation and they’re more prepared than they have ever been. I think they need this sense of normalcy.” 

Listen to more Virtual Philosophy W/ Dr. Chris:

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