podcast series

At Length with Steve Scher

At Length host Steve ScherPresented by the UWAA as part of the Graduate School Public Lectures, At Length podcast host Steve Scher, ’87, speaks with some of the world’s leading minds on a variety of topics and issues, ranging from politics to art, culture to science and beyond.

Browse the podcasts below, available for streaming and download, and stay tuned for even more At Length conversations with Steve Scher.


Touré, journalist, author and cultural critic

In this conversation with Steve Scher, Touré talks about his own experiences with microaggressions, how an African-American writer may be best suited to write about Eric Clapton and the “40 million different ways to be black.”

Recorded prior to the lecture Microaggression: Power, Privilege and Everyday Life, on April 5, 2016.


Charles M. Payne, professor at the School of Social Service Administration, The University of Chicago

In this conversation with Steve Scher, professor Payne talks about growing up in the organizing tradition, the entrenchment of segregation as the foundation of educational inequity and the prevalent and “pernicious idea” that all urban schools are failures.

Recorded prior to the lecture Doing Race Better: Race and the Reform of Urban Schools, on February 23, 2016.

K. Tsianina Lomawaima, professor at the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University

In this conversation with Steve Scher, professor Lomawaima discusses the power that stereotypes hold in our societies, “the rights of self-determination and inherent sovereigns,” and what it means for native people to also hold U.S. citizenship.

Recorded prior to the lecture More Than Mascots! Less Than Citizens? American Indians Talk: Why Isn’t the U.S. Listening?, on February 10, 2016.

Mehnaz Afridi, assistant professor of religious studies and director of the Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Education Center at Manhattan College

Dr. Afridi talks about the need for empathy in the Muslim community on the topic of the Holocaust, the “racialization” of different people in the Muslim world and the implications of colonialism in fostering animosity between the Jewish and Muslim peoples.

Recorded prior to the lecture Freedom, Religion and Racism in Jewish-Muslim Encounters, on February 4, 2016.

Ralina Joseph, director, CCDE, associate professor, department of communication, University of Washington

Ralina Joseph

Dr. Joseph discusses the trappings of identity politics, the fallacy that “white people don’t have race,” and how achieving true equity will take more than diversity alone.

Recorded prior to the lecture What’s the Difference with “Difference”?, on January 14, 2016.

Kathy Najimy, producer, actor and activist

Kathy Najimy

Kathy Najimy discusses drawing inspiration from 1970’s feminism, everyday prejudice in Hollywood and how women could change the world if they weren’t constantly struggling against society’s expectations for body image.

Recorded prior to the lecture Women & Body Image, on May 19, 2015.

Ellen Schur, associate professor of medicine at the University of Washington in the Division of General Internal Medicine at Harborview Medical Center

Dr. Ellen Schur

Dr. Ellen Schur discusses the significance and implications of weight gain and where we carry those extra pounds. She also explains how small-scale weight loss can lead to big health gains.​

Recorded prior to the lecture Why Is It So Hard to Lose Weight?, on May 13, 2015.

Bruce Blumberg, professor of developmental and cell biology, pharmaceutical sciences and biomedical engineering at the University of California

Dr. Bruce Blumberg

Dr. Bruce Blumberg discusses obesogens, the hormone-disrupting chemicals that seem to change human metabolism.

Recorded prior to the lecture Obesogens: How Chemical Exposure May Cause Obesity, on May 5, 2015.

Regina M. Benjamin, M.D., M.B.A., 18th U.S. Surgeon General

Regina M. Benjamin, M.D., M.B.A., 18th U.S. Surgeon GeneralDr. Regina Benjamin discusses rediscovering “the joy in being healthy,” the origins of public health missions in America and the inevitable controversies that accompany outside-the-box thinking.

Recorded prior to the lecture Advice from America’s Doctor, on April 30, 2015.

Sonia Nazario, Pulitzer Prize winning author and journalist 

Sonia NazarioSonia Nazario discusses her fraught and illuminating journey accompanying Central American minors making their way to the United States atop Mexican freight trains. She exposes the obstacles these children face, “often robbed, raped, beaten or kidnapped along the way,” and the consequences if they are caught, “detained in detention cells for months before their fate — often deportation.”

Recorded prior to the lecture Enrique’s Journey & America’s Immigration Dilemma, on April 29, 2015.

Shiriki Kumanyika, professor of epidemiology and associate dean for health promotion and disease prevention at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

Dr. Shiriki KumanyikaDr. Shiriki Kumanyika discusses the evolving landscape and presence of obesity within African-American demographics and giving people the tools to understand the health implications of their personal choices.

Recorded prior to the lecture Obesity Lessons Learned at Home and Around the World, on April 21, 2015.

Andrew Drewnowski, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Public Health Nutrition at the School of Public Health

Dr. Adam DrewnowskiDr. Drewnowski discusses the “growing body of evidence that obesity in America is largely an economic issue.”

Recorded prior to the lecture Obesity and Poverty: Linking Food, Health and Incomes, on April 14, 2015.

Michael Pollan, professor, activist and acclaimed journalist and author

Michael PollanMichael Pollan discusses the oft-ignored connection between agriculture and climate change, why the family meal is more important than ever and getting a disagreeable cast of characters to sit down at the same table and think about the creation of a coherent national food policy.

Recorded prior to the lecture Our National Eating Disorder on April 8, 2015.

Mark Morris, founder of the Mark Morris Dance Center

Mark Morris

Mark Morris discusses his influences, how he runs the Mark Morris Dance Center as “an open buffet of dancing and music,” how all music “doesn’t automatically make you want dance to it” and his belief that, even today, “dance is not well respected.”

Recorded prior to the lecture Mark Morris: Dancing Beyond Boundaries on March 4, 2015.

Jill Cornell Tarter, Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) at the SETI Institute

Dr. Jill Cornell TarterDr. Jill Cornell Tarter talks about the struggle in bridging public imagination and public funding, how SETI is “archaeology of the future,” and why we need to stop expecting to find extraterrestrial intelligent life on dry land.

Recorded prior to the lecture SETI: Past, Present and Future — Finding Aliens and Finding Ourselves on March 3, 2015.

Christoph Bode, full professor and chair of modern English literature at LMU Munich

Christoph BodeChristoph Bode discusses growing up in a book-loving German anglophile family, the purpose of “difficult” novels and literature and how one should “never approach a book with too much respect.”

Recorded prior to the lecture From Event to Node: How ‘Future Narratives’ Impact the Way We Imagine and Shape the Future on February 24, 2015.

Eric Avila, professor of history, Chicano studies and urban planning at UCLA

Eric AvilaEric Avila discusses the Freeway Revolts of the 1960s, the “coded, tacit” terminology of racism today and the meaning of George Clinton’s song “Chocolate Cities.”

Recorded prior to the lecture Chocolate Cities and Vanilla Suburbs: Race, Space and American Culture After World War II on January 27, 2015.

Michael Levitt, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, professor of structural biology at Stanford University

Michael Levitt

Michael Levitt expands on the staggering possibilities for medical advancement brought about by computing power, the surprising link between video games and microbiology and the extraordinary value of being “kind and good.”

Recorded prior to the lecture The Birth and Future of Multi-Scale Modeling of Macromolecules on December 4, 2014.

Marc Rotenberg, president and executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center and professor at the Georgetown University Law Center

Marc Rotenberg

Marc Rotenberg discusses the balance between privacy and practicality, contemplating the constitution in times of fear and unrest and the “incredibly creepy” picture emerging through violations of data privacy in both the public and private sectors.

Recorded prior to the lecture Watching the Watchers: Fighting Back in an Age of Ubiquitous Surveillance on November 20, 2014.

Dolores Huerta, co-founder United (National) Farm Workers Association and activist

Dolores HuertaDolores Huerta speaks about coping with racism as a child, what inspired her to become an organizer, solidarity with Japanese-Americans in the wake of WWII’s internment camps and founding the United Farm Workers Association with Cesar Chavez.

Recorded prior to the lecture An Evening with Dolores Huerta on November 17, 2014.

Olympia Snowe, former Maine US Senator & chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Seapower

Senator Olympia SnoweOlympia Snowe discusses the waning influence of congressional committees, the Affordable Care Act and her role in grooming a new generation of Washington centrists.

Recorded prior to the lecture Anything is Possible—How to Overcome Obstacles and Make a Difference on November 6, 2014.