Interviews By Topic

blurred man

College campuses have long been hotbeds of political activity, fervent debate and occasionally violence stemming from a war of words, but today, in this era of call outs and cancel culture, there is a renewed and controversial argument over free speech playing out at universities and colleges around the country.More

censored wall

After a polite HR representative called screenwriter and novelist Walter Mosley up to ask why he'd said the "N-word" during a story meeting, he realized how important it was to him to be able to have uncomfortable conversations as part of his work.More

College students on the left are demanding protection from words and ideas they consider harmful. Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt worries that the end result will be a generation that doesn’t know how to have real debates or constructive arguments.More

medieval knight

Medievalist Dorothy Kim argues that colleagues in her field need to speak out against hate speech being cloaked in iconography of the Middle Ages. An argument that has earned her harassment, hate, and violent threats from the self-described "alt-right."More

"Junebug"

Nathaniel Mary Quinn was abandoned as a child. Today, he’s a celebrated painter, exhibiting around the world. He tells Charles his remarkable story about talent and perseverance in the face of enormous odds.More

The many Alma Mahlers

Alma Mahler inspired symphonies, poems and paintings. She was lover and muse to some of the most celebrated artists of the early 20th century. Novelist Mary Sharratt thinks she would have been a great artist in her own right – if she hadn’t been born a woman. More

The creative mind

Novelist Siri Hustvedt knows how the creative process feels. Neuroscientist Heather Berlin knows what it looks like in the brain. Together with Steve, they explore the emerging science of creativity.More

Before John Muir and Charles Darwin, there was Alexander von Humboldt, the German scientist who shaped our understanding of nature. Now, he’s largely forgotten, but biographer Andrea Wulf says he was once the world's most famous scientist. More

Flint corn

Botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer says there is a reason so many around the world consider corn to be sacred. We give it life, and in return, it gives us life. She says the industrial-scale farming of America has lost control of that balance.More

Aerial roots.

There is an unusual, giant corn in southern Mexico that gets its own nitrogen from the air — no manufacturing required.More

Clockwise: Wheat in a field, flint corn, kamut grains, and the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

Most of us get our food from the grocery store, not the fields where it grows. But if you really want to understand where our food comes from — and the potential threats to the food supply — you have to think about seeds.More

Paul Wendell Jr.

Rapper Tall Paul uses hip-hop to reclaim his Native language—and he's not the only musician remixing Native culture.More

A powwow in 2015 at the Institute for American Indian Arts.

Tommy Orange's debut novel “There There” was one of the big breakout books of 2018. He told Steve that with his novel, he hoped to better represent modern Native Americans that have grown up living in cities.More

Person at the Institute for American Indian Arts.

A wide range of writers — now celebrated with commercial and critical success — work to celebrate an evolving literary canon without limiting it. More

Wheat

Kamut is arguably the oldest grain in the world. Bob Quinn, who runs the multi-million dollar nonprofit Kamut International, argues that it's an example of what can be right in a very wrong American agricultural world.More

Svalbard Global Seed Vault

If a disaster wiped out our ability to grow crops, how would the survivors rebuild civilization? Back in the 1990’s Cary Fowler wondered the same thing. So he created the Svalbard Global Seed Vault – otherwise known as the Doomsday vault.More

bamboo graffitt

If climate change is the most urgent problem facing humanity, why are there so few novels about it? Acclaimed novelist Amitav Ghosh believes that’s a big problem. He says climate change is less a science problem than a crisis of imagination.More

Western hemisphere of the moon

The moon explodes and the earth is doomed. Neal Stephenson's 800-page novel "Seveneves" spans 5,000 years of human survival in outer space.More

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