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A Smarter U

Education Podcasts

A Smarter U feeds your brain with an academic spin to current events, pop culture, and other items of interest. Each episode features experts from the University of Lynchburg in Virginia.


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A Smarter U feeds your brain with an academic spin to current events, pop culture, and other items of interest. Each episode features experts from the University of Lynchburg in Virginia.








From a bloody martyr to commercial Cupids, a history of Valentine’s Day and how to make it better

Valentine's Day was started to honor a slain saint, but also to replace a pagan tradition celebrating the coming spring. In this episode of A Smarter U, host Hannah Belayachi talks with professors Stephen Dawson (religious studies) and Virginia Cylke (psychology) to delve into the history.


Fan theories from a galaxy far, far away

Who is rising in "The Rise of Skywalker"? Who is the most pivotal character in the Star Wars saga? Three Lynchburg Star Wars fans sat down with A Smarter U to talk about the new Star Wars movie, the expansion of the Star Wars universe with "The Mandalorian," and more.


The human history of the Holocaust

Halina Peabody was a young girl when World War II and the German occupation of Poland turned her life upside down. Her father was imprisoned. She and her mother had to hide their Jewish identity and rely on inner strength, courage, and the compassion of others to survive. She joined host Hannah Belayachi and history professor Dr. Brian Crim to share the human side of what history students learn about the podcast.


Impeachable Character: Lessons from Andrew Johnson’s impeachment

A president stands accused of wrongdoing. A nation is divided on the president's policies and fitness for office. A polarized media environment plays to each end of the political spectrum with little agreement on reality. Sound familiar?


What to do about ‘fake news’?

"Fake news" has been in the news and political rhetoric for a while, but it has been a major point of discussion in recent years. This episode of "A Smarter U" brings together a journalism professor, Dr. Ghislaine Lewis, and a philosophy professor, Dr. Devon Brickhouse-Bryson, to talk about the phenomenon and how news makers and news consumers can examine their beliefs and make sure they're getting an accurate picture of what's happening in the world.


Everyone has an origin story: Two professors geek out over “Joker”

Ever wonder what makes a supervillain? Criminology professor Dr. Ken Wagner and communication studies professor Dr. Mike Robinson join this episode of A Smarter U to talk about the mental workings of the Joker, the notorious "Clown Prince of Crime" who gets his own feature film coming on October 4. From his first appearance in the Batman comics to understanding the math to his madness, the professors unpack the Joker with help of Max Weber, Shakespeare, and the kind of pop culture expertise that can only come from decades of reading comics.


Leadership in the cloud with Francessca Vasquez ’00

Francessca Vaszquez '00 leads an international team at Amazon Web Services to help companies use cloud computing technology to take their apps and businesses global. While she travels the world, she often refers back to lessons she learned while earning her computer science degree at Lynchburg — lessons from inside and outside the classroom that prepared her for leadership. She's our guest in this episode of A Smarter U.


A conversation with Kathrine Switzer, women’s running pioneer

Season two, episode one of "A Smarter U" features world-renowned women's running icon Kathrine Switzer, who got her start with competitive running at Lynchburg College (now University of Lynchburg) before she became the first woman to officially register for and run the Boston Marathon. Natalie Deacon, assistant women's soccer coach and a running icon at Lynchburg, joined her for the discussion with host Justin Cummings.


How does music start a revolution? A Smarter U Episode 2

From coded spiritual songs that guided slaves along the Underground Railroad to Ukrainian folk songs opposing Russian invasion, music has played a role in uniting people and inspiring protest. Dr. Lindsay Michie saw this firsthand when she was a photojournalist in South Africa during the fall of apartheid nearly 30 years ago. This helped inspire a class that she's offering to first-year University of Lynchburg students in Fall 2019.


Football, physics, and concussions: A Smarter U Episode 1

What happens inside the skull when two people weighing well over 200 pounds collide at full speed? As the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams head to the Super Bowl, a physicist and an athletic trainer sat down to talk about the physics of the game and the science of concussions.