For the last several months, Associate Professor of Education Doris Santoro has been stepping into the increasingly popular world of podcasts. “Embodying the Liberal Arts,” attempts to capture Bowdoin students’ stories and share them with the broader community. Santoro hopes that the podcast will help students connect with each other more deeply and honestly.

Santoro was inspired to start the podcast while on sabbatical last year. Observing what was happening on campus, she felt as though there was a loss of respect between students.

“I like the medium of a podcast because it enables you to just listen. There is no interruption,” said Santoro.

She was further inspired after a conference where she met Marcia Chatelain, associate professor of history at Georgetown University, who has her own podcast where she interviews students. Santoro later wrote to Chatelin, who encouraged her to start a podcast at Bowdoin.

“[The podcast’s goal] is to promote the practice of empathy and compassion, to find points of connection where you may not have known to look,” Santoro said. She also wants “to foster connection where students might feel like they are the only ones going through something so that they come to realize that they are not the only one[s] who might be experiencing that.”  

Santoro added that the podcast speaks to the unique nature of the liberal arts experience and the Bowdoin experience in particular.

 “For a very long time I feel like people talked about ‘This is what the Bowdoin student looks like’ or that there is a norm that either students should aspire to or that they do aspire to. I try to make sure I’m talking to people who embody what it means to be a Bowdoin student in really different ways so that students themselves can see that there is no norm even if it feels like there is,” she said.

In the podcasts, Santoro asks three questions: what is most important to you, what does a liberal arts education mean to you, and what do you wish your professors knew about you.
“I just love those questions and how open they are,” said Santoro.

Mitsuki Nishimoto ’17, one of the students featured on the podcast, agreed that the questions allow for open interpretation, noting that while the questions are the same, each podcast is incredibly unique.

“I know that sounds cheesy but if you look at all the different titles, if you listen to even the first five minutes of any one, there are definitely some commonalities but there are a lot of differences,” said Nishimoto.

“I think it’s really rare for professors to ask questions like that. I have never really had a space where I could talk about myself for 40 minutes,” she said. “That was really meaningful to me ... to know that a professor cared to ask me about my life.”

For Professor Santoro, these meaningful conversations with students are at the heart of the podcast.

“I think that it would be hard to listen to any of these folks no matter who they are and not come away thinking how thoughtful, brilliant and engaged they are.”

“Embodying the Liberal Arts” is available on iTunes or at