‘What are you supposed to do about it?’ asks Will Hood, presenter and producer of The Glass Bead Game. ‘What is the correct position to have on things like energy, oil, oceans and agriculture?’ The questions are rhetorical and underpin the first episodes of Hood’s podcast series from the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex. Beginning with the subject of climate change, and including input from broadcaster David Attenborough and activist Naomi Klein, The Glass Bead Game is a 12-part series tackling some of the most contentious issues facing society.
‘We decided to begin with climate change because it is a subject that can be very difficult to engage with. In many cases it can even be considered impolite to talk about it,’ Hood tells Geographical, ‘however, academics put hours of their career into working on these specific areas. They have an awful lot to say about their nuances and misconceptions as well as novel perspectives to take. The Glass Bead Game is about providing a platform for those academics to communicate with the general public.’ The series gets its title from the Herman Hesse novel of the same name, in which the ‘game’ is played by creating interactions between different academic disciplines.
As well as academia, the podcast gives voice to interest groups. Episode one consults indigenous leaders and industrial workers alongside university scholars to talk about oil extraction in Canada. Their perspectives explore the impacts of living near the oil sands, the third-largest oil deposits in the world. Meanwhile, episode two takes listeners to the inner workings of the COP21 conference in Paris, interviewing Greenpeace campaigners among economists and international relations experts: disparate arguments that are rarely brought together.
The podcast approaches issues from different angles, tackling common assumptions and turning them on their head. ‘If you can get a 360-degree look at the subject matter, the audience doesn’t feel preached to or sold a line,’ says Hood. ‘Often that has the potential to change the way people think about things or rework a socio-political stalemate.’
Future episodes will explore choice topics such as surveillance and the upcoming Investigatory Powers Bill, as well as the repercussions of the refugee crisis in Greece.
The Glass Bead Game’s first two episodes featuring David Attenborough and Naomi Klein are available now to stream, download or share at www.theglassbeadgame.co.uk