Podcasts, after going almost completely out of style, are now back in fashion.
With big tech brands such as Google, Apple, and Spotify getting in on the action, they’re certain not to fade into obscurity again anytime soon. So, if you’re searching for the best educational podcasts to listen to, you’ve come to the right place!
Whether you’re a lifelong polymath, looking for a complement to a college course, or simply want to learn something as you take your daily jog, the ones we list below are some of the best podcasts to learn something you’ll find anywhere.
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Here are the top learning and educational podcasts to listen to:
1. Encyclopedia Womannica
NYC-based Wonder Media Network offers an amazing array of great learning podcasts which “aims to lift up underrepresented voices, through artful, thoughtful audio.” In Encyclopedia Womannica, host Jenny Kaplan, a former Bloomberg reporter and WMM founder, walks us through the incredible achievements, contributions, and stories of amazing women throughout our past and present in just 5–7 minutes per episode. Well-researched and packed with quality, we get a look at female politicians, STEMinists, activists, musicians, actresses, and other important women in history.
Out of all the great educational podcasts on this list, Radiolab is probably the most famous. Produced by the WNYC radio station and hosted by Jad Abumrad, the show takes a 30- to 60-minute look at a different scientific, societal, or philosophical topic each episode. Production value is top of the line, and the program has won numerous awards, including two Peabody Awards and a National Academies Communication Award.
3. Climate Cast
We’re all about fighting climate change here at Goodwall, from recycling to planting trees to simply spreading the importance of understanding this impending crisis. In Climate Cast, chief meteorologist Paul Huttner from Minnesota Public Radio takes us on a weekly tour of how climate change is affecting our world now. Along with these important stories, he also guides listeners through advanced scientific concepts, including ocean stratification and lakeshore erosion, all in a fascinating, easy-to-understand manner.
4. Monocle 24: The Urbanist
Monocle 24 is an all-day radio station available around the world which covers everything from foreign affairs to design to cuisine. In their podcast production of The Urbanist, hosted by editor Andrew Tuck, we learn all about cities, metropolitan areas, and the modern urban landscape. If you’ve ever been interested in alfresco dining, supertall skyscrapers, subway systems, urban density, or micro apartments, this is the show for you!
5. Revisionist History
Revisionist History is likely the educational podcast with the most famous host, the author Malcolm Gladwell. In each episode, Gladwell looks at a historical event, idea from the past, or a key figure, and he tries to reframe and reinterpret these stories. Sometimes, he dives into overlooked or misunderstood concepts, “because sometimes the past deserves a second chance.”
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6. Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders
Developed by Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP) and Stanford University’s Department of Management Science and Engineering, Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders is simply a podcast-ified version of top Stanford lectures involving careers, entrepreneurship, and technology. With influential guests from some of the top companies and organizations around the world, including Alibaba, Airbnb, and Intercom, topics include startup launch strategies, diversity in the tech sector, ethical entrepreneurship, and more.
7. The 1619 Podcast
Compared to most of the other education podcasts on this list, 1619 by The New York Times has few episodes and has already wrapped up. However, it is definitely not one to be missed! Hosted by MacArthur Genius Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, 1619 looks at how America’s history, present, and future are inextricably linked to that first slave ship carrying Africans to Virginia in August of that year and the 250 horrendous years of slavery which followed. This essential educational podcast is a supplement to the massive 1619 Project initiative from NYT and is important for any well-rounded understanding of United States history.
8. How to Be Awesome at Your Job
We’d be remiss here at Goodwall if we didn’t include a career success-oriented podcast, and one of the best in this field is How to Be Awesome at Your Job. Recorded once or twice a week, host Pete Mockaitis interviews top career experts and thought leaders from all over, making for one of the most educational podcasts on success around. Learn how to master time management, beat back negativity, build resilience, and more.
9. Making Gay History
Making Gay History has as its aim to “[bring] the largely hidden history of the LGBTQ civil rights movement to life through the voices of the people who lived it.” Founder and host Eric Marcus sifts through his archives from decades ago to give past interviews with LGBTQ heroes and civil rights champions a second life in podcast form.
10. 99% Invisible
When I first heard about 99% Invisible, I thought it had to do with inequality or the Occupy Wall Street movement (remember that?). However, this radio show and podcast is all about architecture and design. Host Roman Mars, in a collaboration between San Francisco’s KALW public radio station and the American Institute of Architects in San Francisco, walks us through “the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about — the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world.”
11. This American Life
One of the most influential podcasts in existence, This American Life is often credited as being one of the programs which made podcasting a thing. As a weekly podcast, host Ira Glass explores a new theme each time, separated into a production with several acts. Ira guides us through stories from history, social justice, psychology, and current events, among other topics, all in about an hour-long session.
Discovery is a podcast pushed out about once per week by the BBC News World Service team focusing on the world of science. If you’re scientifically curious, this educational podcast is one of the best. Some of the more recent podcasts include how the universe will end, the origin of the modern toilet, a deep dive into the element helium, and how scientists in East Africa are planning to fight future locust swarms.
13. Overheard at National Geographic
A truly random series of listens, hosts Peter Gwin and Amy Briggs “dive into [many] of the curiously delightful conversations overheard at National Geographic’s headquarters.” While science is at the heart of this series, subscribers also get a full range of topics, from democracy to war photography and beyond.
14. Stuff You Should Know
With around 1,500 episodes already published, Stuff You Should Know is one of the most venerable and successful education podcasts on our list. Hosted by Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant, their tri-weekly updates inform subscribers on topics ranging from history to science to social issues and more. Released each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, each informative podcast episode lasts anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes.
Working is a podcast published by Slate featuring “interviews with creative people about their work,” as they describe it. From film producers to poets to designers and beyond, Slate interviews various people about once a week on their creative processes, goals, and ideas.
16. Philosophize This!
Philosophical ideas can be quite difficult to grasp, even for the most educated in the field. In Philosophize This!, hosted by Stephen West, listeners are introduced to many of the important—and obscure—concepts of philosophy which shaped our modern society, as well as the history and key figures of each.
Well, that’s all for our best educational podcasts for now, and we hope this list helps you find several great new listens! Got any questions, feedback, or other top podcasts for learning to add to our list? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!