Beyond the Hedges Podcast

Rice University is home to an abundance of brilliant minds, game-changing research and unique stories. Now alumni and friends don’t have to be on campus — or even in Houston — to experience Rice’s vibrant intellectual life. Each month, join Rice alumna Kate Coley ’11, associate director of alumni programs, as she sits down with those on campus and those out in the world to explore a range of fascinating topics. We’re bringing Rice’s spirit of lifelong learning beyond the hedges, to you!


Stephen Klineberg

Episode 6: Stephen Klineberg
Houston Part One: Oil Boom to Bust

In the first episode of this three-part series, Stephen Klineberg discusses the research found in his book “Prophetic City: Houston on the Cusp of a Changing America,” covering the early days of Houston up until the oil boom bust in 1982. Klineberg is a professor emeritus of sociology at Rice and the founding director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research. His surveys of Houston over the last 40 years have captured the city’s transformative changes, and why Houston, as he puts it, “is where, for better or worse, the future of our nation is going to be worked out.”

Robert Stein

Episode 5: Robert Stein
Voting in 2020

With the huge political divide in the United States, fears around how to vote safely during a pandemic and the recent passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the upcoming presidential election is unlike anything we’ve seen before. What will it take for Americans to feel safe while voting in the wake of COVID-19? What are the concerns around mail-in voting, and are they valid? In this episode, Robert Stein, the fellow in urban politics at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and the Lena Gohlman Fox Professor of Political Science, discusses his research on voting in a pandemic, mail-in voting and what it truly means to exercise your right to vote.

Anthony Pinn

Episode 4: Anthony B. Pinn
The Fallacy of Racial Colorblindness

When people say they don’t see color when it comes to race, is this actually a dangerous social lie that means people don’t have to be held accountable? Colorblindness is “premised upon problematic thinking that has framed race relations in the United States… [and is] based upon the assumption difference is a problem to solve, but in wiping out difference we allow whiteness to remain normative,” says Anthony B. Pinn, the Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities, professor of religion and director of the Center for African and African American Studies. In this episode, Professor Pinn discusses the fallacy of colorblindness as an anti-racist solution, the sustainable changes hip hop has created for the Black community, and what the global Rice community can do to fight racial injustice.

Tony Brown

Episode 3: Tony Brown
Racial Trauma

The killing of George Floyd has caused global protests around racial injustice and white supremacy. How does the stress of racial trauma play out in the lives of people in Black and Brown communities? What can we do as a global Rice community to fight racial injustice? Join guest host Vanity Hill, assistant director of alumni regional outreach, as she explores these topics with Tony Brown, sociology professor, race and racism scholar and director of the Racism and Racial Experiences Workgroup.

Kirsten Ostherr

Episode 2: Kirsten Ostherr
Contagion Media and COVID-19

COVID-19 is constantly on our minds and on our screens. How has the history of contagion media shaped the way we respond to and think about pandemics like this? How do we handle the shifting paradigm of health communications in a digital age? In this episode, Kirsten Ostherr, director of Rice’s Medical Humanities Program and Medical Futures Lab, discusses representation, social media, marginalized communities and the dangers of misinformation around the global crisis.

Scott Solomon

Episode 1: Scott Solomon
Wisdom of the Ants

How can ants teach us to be more efficient? Most of us think of ants as a picnic pest on the hunt for food, but ants are actually members of societies that function as complexly as ours with divisions of labor and specialties. They grow their own food on a mass scale, develop pesticides and prepare in case of food scarcity, all without ever experiencing a traffic jam. In this episode, Rice Associate Teaching Professor and Evolutionary Biologist Scott Solomon will discuss his research into what makes ant colonies such a successful model for efficiency.