The Torch: The Great Courses Podcast

By The Great Courses

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The Great Courses brings engaging professors from the best universities to lifelong learners on audio and video. We create a "university of the best," working closely with our customers to design each Great Course. With this podcast hosted by Ed Leon, you'll meet our fascinating professors and experts who create The Great Courses, listen to their stories and insights, and learn more about the great work they are doing. Discover scientists explaining the latest findings from the fields of astronomy, particle physics, or neuroscience; historians exploring the implications of the latest archaeological findings; medical experts making sense of current health alerts or medical breakthroughs; and literature professors bringing fresh insights to classic literary works. This podcast is available in audio-only format. More information about our courses can be found at

Episode Date
Was the American West as Wild as We Think?
Experience the grit and grandeur of an epic period in American history with a story more thrilling than any Hollywood Western. History professor Patrick N. Allitt dispels tall tales by sharing even more fascinating true stories of the American West. He reveals the facts behind accepted myths around the Cherokee, the Gold Rush, and even beaver fur hats.
Aug 22, 2017
Delve Into the Grand Drama of Spanish History
Spain has played a unique and pivotal role in Western civilization. It has historically stood at a critical crossroad of geography, of cultures, of religions, of ideas, of trade, and more. Join a seasoned expert on Spain to examine the dazzling unfolding of Spanish civilization: the birth and death of dynasties, the integrations of cultures, and the influence of religion. Professor Joyce E. Salisbury provides you with a deep understanding of Spain’s epic history and demonstrates how it has come to be one of the West’s great cultures. Delve into this majestic civilization to discover the enduring presence of Spain and its impact on the world stage.
Jul 24, 2017
Discover Everything You Need to Know About What You Eat and Why You Eat It
Eating is as old as mankind but we are still learning so much about food, nutrition, and our own bodies. Examine the evolution of the human diet with award-winning professor and anthropologist Alyssa Crittenden. Discover how what’s old is new—the evolution and resurgence of the Paleo diet—and how people (and even civilizations) have defined themselves through what they make to eat.
Jul 24, 2017
What is Emotional IQ?
Don’t let your emotions run the show! Learn how to control your emotions and use them to help you achieve your goals with Professor Jason M. Satterfield, Professor of Clinical Medicine at UCSF. Delve into this fascinating topic and discover how being aware of your emotional intelligence (EQ) can help you become more perceptive and avoid knee-jerk emotional reactions.
Jun 27, 2017
Get Introduced to the Wonders of Birding
Going beyond basic bird identification, birding includes a far-reaching look into matters such as bird behavior, migration, habitats, conservation, and the science behind them. Join James Currie, birding expert, to discover more about this compelling, delightful, and multifaceted field. Even if you don’t plan to travel the country and become a birding professional, you can get to know the exceptional species in your own neck of the woods with helpful tips to make your backyard more attractive to local birds, and by learning how to approach birds without scaring them off.
May 30, 2017
Discover the Transformative Power of Anthropology
From biology to culture, anthropology strives to gain a comprehensive understanding of humanity’s development from primates to digital citizens. Join acclaimed professor and field researcher Scott M. Lacy to delve into what anthropology has taught us about what it means to be human, where we came from, and what keeps us connected.
May 30, 2017
The History of Higher Education
When we think of old universities, our minds may go to Cambridge or Oxford, or maybe the University of Bologna. But one of the earliest known universities was established in the Moroccan City of Fez. Join Professorial Lecturer in African Studies at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, Eamonn Gearon, to explore the fascinating story of an esteemed University that was established centuries before Oxford: Karaouine University, founded by Fatima Al-Fishri in 859.
May 02, 2017
Learn the Secrets of the Plants All Around You
Stepping outside, we can’t help but notice the natural world all around us. Discover how to do more than just notice it. Join Dr. Catherine Kleier, a Professor of Biology at Regis University in Denver, Colorado, to dive into the fascinating world of plants and learn how to see the world as a botanist does. Natural selection has allowed plants to adapt to the widest possible range of environments all around the globe. These adaptations have led to plant adaptations so surprising that they almost seem to have sprung directly from science fiction. Dr. Kleier discusses the ramifications of our changing environment – how we effect the ways plants grow, and in turn, how their new growth patterns affect us. Learn to speak the language of the plants around you, transforming every trip outside into an adventure.
May 02, 2017
Learn Music Fundamentals with a Master Guitarist
Colin McAllister, who studied guitar with Celin and Pepe Romero, interpretation with Bertram Turetzky, and conducting with Harvey Sollberger and Rand Steiger, and has connections to some of the most influential musicians in history, helps you learn how to play and appreciate music. Discover scales, fingering, and posture as he tells tales of being a rock star on the road. Plus, hear some amazing music!
Apr 10, 2017
Experience the Formation of America Through the Eyes of the Founders
Take a deep dive into the creation of the U.S. Constitution as it actually happened with New York Times best-selling author and professor Allen C. Guelzo of Gettysburg College. He reveals fascinating secrets behind some of the more famous Founding Fathers, using them as a lens through which to see powerful truths about the early political history of the United States. Discover the harsh lesson George Washington learned about how whiskey can make (or break) an election, how calling James Madison the Father of the Constitution is a misnomer, and how, unlike the musical adaptation of Hamilton, the real man’s performance was met with stony silence.
Apr 10, 2017
Discover the secrets of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
A million and a half words, 2,500 pages long, and encompassing six volumes, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire has made a lasting and consequential contribution to history. Whether you’re familiar with this masterpiece of literature or not, you’ll gain fascinating insights and discover modern parallels revealed by Harvard professor emeritus of literature Leo Damrosch and Chief of Brand, Ed Leon in this eye-opening edition of The Torch.
Mar 07, 2017
Apply the Art of Debate to Your Real Life
Want to improve the discussions in your organization, in your house, or in your social circles? Join Ed Leon and Jarrod Atchison, associate professor of communication at Wake Forest University, to discover how learning the rules and structure of formal debate can improve your communication skills, even in informal situations. By applying the same logic that great debaters employ, you’ll see drastic improvements in your ability to persuade and influence others, and discover you can better structure and consider your own thoughts in order to make better decisions.
Mar 07, 2017
Gain New Insights into the Holy Grail of Science: The Theory of Everything
Can one single theory explain everything in the universe? Providing a scientific explanation to the big questions of the universe such as “Why are we here?” is a huge undertaking—and one Einstein failed at, but this remains a quest many top scientists still work to unravel. Join physicist Don Lincoln from The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory as he discusses the latest discoveries and if this enigma will ever be resolved.
Mar 07, 2017
Separate fact from fiction; reveal facts; and explore fiction with The Torch!
The truth is out there! Explore misconceptions about how your mind works, uncover overlooked history, and define two-sides of the same literary coin. Join Ed Leon and three esteemed experts on this revealing edition of The Torch where we bust common myths about our own minds, expose the amazing contributions that came from the Islamic Middle Ages, and delve into the literary genres of utopian and dystopian fiction. Do brain games help us avoid Alzheimer’s? What percentage of our brain do we use? When it comes to our brains, there are many fallacies out there that we’ve taken as fact. Professor Indre Viskontas answers these questions and provides the truth about how our minds work. Italy wasn’t the only country to undergo a cultural and scientific renaissance that impacted the world. Professor Eamonn Gearon reveals the many contributions of the Islamic Golden Age―a period in history that lasts form roughly 750 to about 1258―which is not as well-known as it should be. In the last decade, dystopian literature has become one of the most popular fictional categories, especially among the young adult audience. But it, and its counterpart, utopian literature, have been established genres for centuries. Professor Pamela Bedore unveils the history and influence of utopian and dystopian fiction.
Feb 06, 2017
Travel Deep Into History and Your Own Mind
How did the great philosophers view the connections between our minds and bodies? How did the ancient civilizations view the skies? How can stress benefit us? How did one singular period of history impact and influence the entire world? Ed Leon, Chief Brand Officer, and four renowned experts answer these questions providing profound insights into time, space, and our own bodies. How are our mental and physical perceptions connected? Professor Patrick Grimm tackles this problem from a philosophical perspective, looking at the link between experience, consciousness, and free will. The skywatchers of ancient times saw the stars in a very different way from what we see today. Professor Bradley Schaefer enlightens us about how ancient peoples around the planet viewed the sky, used pattern recognition to create constellations, and created some of the world's most mysterious structures based on the stars they saw. Many people mistakenly presume "stress management" means reducing the amount of stress in your life. Join Dr. Kimberlee Bethany Bonura to discover how stress can actually benefit us and how proper management means converting stress into positive energy that results in a better performance and a higher satisfaction rate. Learn how and why the British were able to take control and rule India for such an extended time despite rebellions as Professor Hayden Bellenoit traces the history of this monumental period. Don't miss this episode of the torch, chock full of exceptional information, startling insights, and groundbreaking perspectives.
Jan 10, 2017
Four ways we can impact our world by learning about our history
Ed Leon, Chief Brand Officer, and four renowned experts introduce us to what the new field of Big History can teach us about our future, how history’s greatest investor’s made their fortunes, what mysteries and wisdom are found in the Analects of Confucius, and how we can use history to predict which political candidate will win the presidency. Although Big History often focuses on the ancient past, Professor Craig Benjamin explains how we use Big History to learn much about the ways our actions impact the future. The average person knows more than they think about where to invest in order to profit. Professor John Longo discusses how these tactics were used by successful investors to make millions. Many people don’t realize the Analects of Confucius was not one linear composition, but is comprised of many independent tidbits of advice. Professor Robert LaFleur takes us through the process of how these individual pieces encompass a philosophy of life that set the foundation for modern society. For more than three decades, Professor Alan Lichtman has correctly predicted the outcome of every presidential election—including this most recent one—by looking at the past. Hear about his astounding process and more in this spectacular edition of The Torch.
Dec 15, 2016
The Literature of Mysteries, the Science of History, and Brain Hacks You Can’t Miss.
Solve the puzzles of great mystery fiction, uncover the depths of what paleontology can tell us about our past, and reveal secrets for outsmarting your own brain in this exceptional edition of The Torch. Join Ed Leon, Chief Brand Officer, as he talks to three renowned experts to learn more about these fascinating topics. Professor David Schmid, an award-winning associate professor, reviews the 200-year old genre of mystery and suspense by taking you backward and forward in time, around the world, and alongside some of the most amazing minds and characters in literature. Professor Stuart Sutherland, a Professor of Teaching in the Department of Earth Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, introduces new theories about our ancestors inspired by recently exposed fossils and tells you how to find dinosaurs in your duck pond. Professor Peter M. Vishton, Associate Professor of Psychology, illuminates all the ways our brains “plot” to work against us, and provides tricks to overcome distraction, procrastination, and the other devices our brains invoke to sabotage our best intentions.
Nov 14, 2016
Explore the Enigmas of History, Philosophy, Photography, and Math.
We’re revealing the secrets to histories mysteries, modern math, and phenomenal photographs in today’s edition of the Torch. Join Ed Leon as he talks with four esteemed experts to help you learn to crack the codes! One of the world’s foremost experts on Egyptology Bob Brier—known as Mr. Mummy—provides an overview of how to decrypt hieroglyphs. Professor Charles Mathewes deciphers the major themes and lessons from St. Augustine’s seminal work The City of God. National Geographic photographer Michael Melford uncovers the tricks behind timing, framing, and taking the perfect landscape photograph. As James Tanton—teacher of teachers—demonstrates, the secret to unlocking the mysteries of math is to learn how to see it differently. Anyone who wants to be “in the know” and get insider secrets from the experts should not miss this illuminating edition of The Torch.
Oct 24, 2016
Exercise Your Body and Your Brain With Three Terrific Topics.
In this episode of The Torch, join The Great Courses Chief Brand Officer, Ed Leon, to explore the philosophies and benefits of tai chi, break down the complex concepts of Chemistry, and discover the incredible science behind decision making. No matter what your age or fitness level, the ancient art of tai chi can provide a multitude of benefits for you. Part exercise, part relaxation technique, the practice of tai chi can be considered a moving meditation. There is no one better to introduce the principals and methods than International Tai Chi Master, David-Dorian Ross. The formulas, tables, and elements associated with the subject of chemistry can often feel intimidating, but the right professor can unlock the mysteries of this fascinating subject. Join Professor Ron Davis of Georgetown University, as he introduces some of the coolest components of chemistry to help us understand and appreciate the structure of the world (and universe) around us. Some decisions seem like no-brainers. Or are they? Emory University professor Ryan Hamilton explains how every decision we make—from mundane to momentous—utilizes a far more complicated process than we realize, relying on hundreds of factors, influences, and variables. But we’ll make it easy for you: don’t let any of those decision-making elements keep you from joining this thought-provoking edition of The Torch.
Sep 26, 2016
Finding Fun in Grammar, Economics, and Machiavelli
Discover fascinating, intriguing, and enlightening insights about three rewarding topics—grammar, economics, and Machiavelli. No matter how proficient at grammar you are, you’ll benefit from joining Professor Anne Curzan, a professor of English at the University of Michigan, to reveal the rules of words, to study the structure of sentences, and to explore how the elegance of English has evolved. They say money makes the world go round and nowhere is that more evident than when you look at history through a financial lens. Professor Donald Harreld, Chair in the Department of History at Brigham Young University, shares how a majority of the world-changing moments were a reaction to financially-driven motivations. Whether you read The Prince in school, or for your own interest, you’ll discover a new perspective about the intention and messages of this controversial and influential work as discussed by Professor William Landon, professor of history at Northern Kentucky University. Join Ed Leon, Chief Brand Officer of The Great Courses, as he talks to these three expert professors to uncover little known secrets and unpack the nuances behind each of these subjects.
Aug 23, 2016
The 50th Edition of the Torch: History, Literature, and Lightning!
This is our 50th episode of The Torch, hosted by Ed Leon, Chief Brand Officer for the Great Courses, and our podcast continues to entertain, inform, and provide our audience with more ways to continue their passion for lifelong learning. This milestone edition examines how music has reflected and affected major milestones in history, delves into the defining moments of Irish culture, and embarks on an exciting adventure into the science of extreme weather. First you’ll explore how history isn’t just dates and names. Great moments in history impact our culture, our views, and our art; applying the lens of music to the study of history provides you with a much deeper understanding and appreciation for both subjects. There is no better professor to present this scope than Great Courses favorite Robert Greenberg, renowned musicologist and Music Historian-in-Residence with San Francisco Performances. We all understand how the Italian renaissance resulted in a plethora of amazing art and music, and also helped define the Italian culture. Lesser known is the Irish Renaissance, which gave birth to not only a number of timeless works of literature, but helped generate and foster a revolution, calling for independence and establishing an Irish identity. Professor Marc Conner, Professor of English at Washington and Lee University, discusses this vibrant period of time where conflict, unrest, and a cultural explosion came together to capture and help to create a nation. Lastly, join Professor Eric Snodgrass, a storm chaser and Director of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Illinois, to better understand the different facets of extreme weather and how we use science and nature to predict storms and climate change in general.
Jul 25, 2016
New Views on the Present, the Past, and Future
Learn the benefits of writing personal essays, examine the Bible as a work of literature, and explore what effects the future will have on your mind in this exceptional episode of The Torch, hosted by Ed Leon, Chief Brand Officer for the Great Courses. Begin by looking at a fantastic and flexible outlet for sharing your personal experience with the world: the essay. Dr. Jennifer Cognard-Black, Professor of English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, reveals the simplicity and ultimate gratification of writing personal essays, along with some fascinating insights and tips. Then, step into the past by looking at the many authors, varied viewpoints, and numerous interpretations of the Bible. Learn how these invaluable words of the past are viewed through the lens of literature with Professor Craig R. Koester of Luther Seminary. Lastly, look ahead to see what’s in store for your brain as you age. While getting older is inevitably in everyone’s future, declining mental faculties are not a given, as explained by Professor Thad A. Polk from the University of Michigan.
Jun 27, 2016
Change Your Perceptions
Join host Ed Leon, Chief Brand Officer of The Great Courses, to discover insights into what we are communicating before we even open our mouths, examine the fascinating world of a real archaeologist, and separate fact from fiction when it comes to fitness and nutrition all in this edition of The Torch! First, examine the nuances of nonverbal communication with Professor Mark Frank of University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, as he provides some illuminating insights into how we communicate. You’ll learn about personal space bubbles, discover some nonverbal signals which are reliable indicators of what a person truly intends, and learn why building rapport is often more effective than torture when it comes to interrogations. Next, spend time with a real-life Indiana Jones as Professor Eric Cline of The George Washington University discusses how the realities of being an archaeologist are far different, yet just as exciting as the movies (although Dr. Cline does own a fedora). He also explains the many steps an evacuation takes, how to determine when it’s safe to remove an artifact from a site, and what a space archaeologist is. Last, Professor Michael Ormsbee of the Institute of Sports Sciences and Medicine in the College of Human Sciences at Florida State University will provide eye opening facts about the science behind weight loss and provide the truth around common misconceptions such as: Can too much protein hurt you? Will you burn more fat working out at a faster pace? Is breakfast the most important meal of the day? This information-packed edition of The Torch is going to change your perceptions about the things you thought you knew!
Jun 01, 2016
Change the Way You Think
Join host Ed Leon, Chief Brand Officer of The Great Courses, to discover Mayo Clinic’s approach to wellness and healing, examine the rich and complex history of India, and learn how computer programmers think by exploring the language of Python - all in this edition of The Torch! Start by learning what Dr. Brent Bauer of Mayo Clinic has discovered about the benefits of complementary and integrative medicines. By looking at the science and research behind treatments such as acupuncture, yoga, or dietary supplements, you will be better prepared to work with your doctor on a holistic approach to your wellbeing. Next, explore the multifaceted and vital cultures of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh with Professor Michael Fisher of Oberlin College. The South Asian subcontinent contains 20% of the world’s population and is a thriving center for global business, so it is becoming vitally important to understand the history of this region. Last, Professor John Keyser, from Texas A&M University, reveals the secrets of a new language, Python, used to program computers, and see how learning how to command computers also teaches you how to organize your tasks and thought processes in a logical and methodical manner.
May 02, 2016
Take Your Knowledge to the Next Level
Improve your ability to win an argument, learn how to keep your kids safe from disease, and discover how a master photographer is creating an award-winning project on endangered animals all in this edition of The Torch! Join host Ed Leon as he chats with Professor Steven Gimbel, Dr. Roy Benaroch, and National Geographic Photographer Joel Sartore about their exciting new courses. In this information-packed podcast: You'll learn how to apply formal logic to win an argument, solve a problem, or answer a question. You'll discover how pediatricians diagnose and resolve both serious and everyday illnesses and issues in babies, children, and teens and get some valuable advice that all parents can use. You'll hear Joel Sartore discuss his mission to photograph endangered animals all over the globe, as well as provide master-level photography tips from real-world experiences to help you elevate your own photography skills. If you have previously followed any of these courses or professors, or if you simply enjoy these topics and want to learn more about them, don’t miss this podcast!
Apr 05, 2016
The Facts Behind Apple vs. the FBI
You may think you know all the details about the current debate over privacy vs. security: Superficially, the FBI and Apple are locking horns about a locked phone that belonged to a suspected terrorist. However, this is a small part of a much bigger issue. Dr. Paul Rosenzweig, a Professorial Lecturer in Law at The George Washington University Law School, breaks down both sides of this debate, and you'll discover that the nuances of this story have potentially far-reaching consequences. Join Ed Leon of the Great Courses and Professor Rosenzweig as they discuss the questions this case has brought to light: Does Apple have the capability to modify the operating system of the iPhone? Should Apple eliminate the failsafe protection allowing all the data to disappear after ten failed tries to crack the passcode? Is Apple protecting their users or their corporate interests? Is this a slippery slope to a legally sanctioned elimination of privacy? Ultimately, where do we draw the line between protection of the people and protection of our privacy? This hot-button topic is about to head to court, so don’t miss this compelling discussion of the vital facts and potentially game-changing consequences of this case.
Mar 18, 2016
Who Will, and Should, Pick the Next Supreme Court Justice?
With the recent passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, the current state of the Supreme Court is surrounded by chaos, confusion, and conflict. A divided government defines the current political environment, and increasing tension surrounding the upcoming election means this Supreme Court nomination is going to be a political battle royale.
As President Obama attempts to confirm his selection-Merrick Garland, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit-and winds down his presidency, a campaign to block his nomination so the next elected president will make this selection instead continues. Both sides of this debate cite everything from relevant precedent to the U.S. Constitution. Who will, and who should, pick the next Supreme Court Justice?
Join Ed Leon of the Great Courses along with Dr. Peter Irons, Emeritus Professor of Political Science and Professor of The Great Courses’ History of the Supreme Court, as they examine the legalities and practices behind the Supreme Court nomination process and the potential ramifications of this vital decision.
Mar 16, 2016
Thoughtful Topics across the Past, Present, and Future
Probe three powerful topics ranging from an ancient language to questions and concerns we ponder now, and will continue to think about in this time-traveling edition of The Torch. Join Ed Leon of the Great Courses along with three notable professors as they first examine the legalities of a question that has been debated for centuries and is even more relevant today: Should you sacrifice your privacy in exchange for your security? Then look at the past, present, and future of how, where, and why we use energy to power our lives. Lastly, spend some time learning why Ancient Greek is just as vital in the modern world if you truly want to understand great works of literature and philosophy. All of this, and more, in this exciting new edition of The Torch.
Mar 09, 2016
The Astonishing Observation of Gravitational Waves
On its 100th anniversary, Einstein’s prediction about his theory of relativity has been validated. Just this month, two facilities in the U.S. recorded gravitational waves resulting from the merging of two black holes that happened 1.3 billion years ago. These ripples are so small — only a fraction the size of an atom – that capturing them was a seemingly insurmountable task. It was a feat that, although Einstein predicted, he never believed we would be able to confirm. In this special episode of The Torch, join Ed Leon of the Great Courses and Dr. Joshua N. Winn, Associate Professor of Physics at MIT, to learn how this cutting-edge discovery pushes the frontiers of knowledge and technology.
Feb 19, 2016
Learn The Truth about the Alarming Zika Virus Outbreak
With reported cases in the U.S. and a travel advisory out from the CDC, there has been a lot of confusion around what the Zika virus is, how it spreads, and who is at risk. Join Ed Leon of The Great Courses and Dr. Barry Fox, Clinical Professor of Infectious Disease, as they separate fact from fiction, put to rest the rumors, and examine the true nature of this virulent and alarming disease.
Feb 15, 2016
Fascinating Facets of History
Spend 30 engrossing minutes exploring two areas of history that provide some enthralling context for the events and characteristics of our modern world. Join Ed Leon of The Great Courses and two renowned professors as they first illuminate pivotal moments in the history of the Middle East, then outline the captivating history of American English, in this new edition of The Torch.
Feb 08, 2016
Facts, Fiction, and the Big Questions
Ed Leon of The Great Courses and three renowned professors present 30 illuminating minutes with this new edition of The Torch. Join them as they explore the "big questions" of philosophy, shed light on a little-known yet highly influential ancient civilization, and embark on a stellar journey into why science fiction is so important to our society.
Jan 11, 2016
Get New Insights into Worlds You Thought You Knew
Ed Leon of The Great Courses and three renowned professors present 30 mindboggling minutes with this new edition of The Torch. Join them as they strive to define and understand the true nature of information, investigate the cultural context of Jesus and how the society of his time influenced who he was, and discover why it’s never too late to learn Spanish as you take the first steps into mastering this beautiful and useful language.
Dec 18, 2015
Opening New Doors
Ed Leon of The Great Courses and three renowned professors have something for everyone in this edition of The Torch. Join them as they shed light on the engineering marvels we take for granted every day, reveal a history of Eastern Europe that is often overlooked, and help you discover your hidden talent for drawing.
Nov 16, 2015
Solve a Myriad of Mysteries
Love watching doctors solve mysteries on medical dramas? Ever wonder about the enigmatic evolution of our most beautiful national parks? Interested in navigating the little-known, yet fascinating, secrets behind what it takes to get published? Ed Leon of The Great Courses and three renowned professors have something for everyone in this edition of The Torch. Join them as they solve all sorts of mysteries, ranging from split-second life and death decisions in the high-pressure environment of the emergency department, to explaining the many reasons the Grand Canyon is so glorious and awe-inspiring.
Oct 27, 2015
The Mistakes of Our Past and the Discoveries That Will Impact Our Future
Travel back in time to understand what we can learn from some of the most profound military failures, and look to the future with the search for another Earth. Join Ed Leon of The Great Courses as he talks with two renowned experts about historic blunders in battle and the exploration of exoplanets.
Sep 29, 2015
Pope Francis: The People’s Pope
Just in time for the first-ever visit of Pope Francis to the U.S., The Torch presents an in-depth look at the life and legacy of this unconventional religious leader. Join Ed Leon of The Great Courses and Professor William Cook, Distinguished Teaching Professor of History at the State University of New York at Geneseo, as they discuss Pope Francis, his unique approach and perspectives, and his influence on both the Catholic church and the world.
Sep 18, 2015
Stimulate Your Mind: Reality, Mythology, and Italy.
Our panel of experts delves deeply into three thought-provoking topics, all packed into one riveting podcast! Join Ed Leon of The Great Courses and three renowned professors as they embark on a comprehensive tour of Italy’s best-kept secrets, undertake an engrossing discussion about what defines reality, and explore spellbinding stories from some of the world’s first myths.
Aug 21, 2015
Expanding Minds and Horizons
Expand your mind and your horizons with three fascinating topics covered in one riveting podcast! Join Ed Leon of The Great Courses and three renowned professors as they bend your mind with math, investigate how our brains are wired for music, and embark on a cultural exploration of Japan.
Jul 28, 2015
Improving Your World
We have things we would like to change about ourselves - and our world. Join Ed Leon of the Great Courses as he tackles the difficult subject of how to create positive and long-lasting change that benefits you and the world you live in.
Jun 29, 2015
From the Robotics Revolution to Economic Risk

Join host Ed Leon and popular Great Courses professors for lively discussions about topics ranging the world of knowledge.

Have you ever dreamed of having your own C3PO or R2D2? It turns out we’re closer than you think. Roombas, pace-makers, Deka arms, navigation systems, you name it... the future of robotics is here!

And, managing the uncertainty in our financial futures can seem like a daunting task but with the right tools it becomes manageable and measurable!

Jun 01, 2015
From Robber Barons to Superconductors
Join host Ed Leon as he chats with popular Great Courses professors. In this episode Professor and historian Edward O’Donnell talk about The Gilded Age and the Progressive Era - a time of tremendous change in America including: post civil war reconstruction, industrial and economic booms, taming the Wild West, the emerging women’s rights movement, and World War I. And chemistry, it’s no longer a mystery! Chemist and acclaimed professor David Ball breaks down the entire realm of physical matter into three basic elements and explains how all matter contains particles that came from supernovas.
May 01, 2015
The Real King Arthur and the Secrets of Business Success
Think King Arthur is a bedtime story? Meet the real King Arthur - a fifth-century Celtic warrior that the legends are based on. Then, gain a strategic advantage by learning two of the fundamental skills you need to know to succeed at business! Join host Ed Leon and popular Great Courses professors for lively discussions about topics ranging the world of knowledge.
Apr 07, 2015
From Ancient Civilizations to Arctic Poles
Join host Ed Leon and popular Great Courses professors for lively discussions including what its like to live on the Arctic peninsula, and the truth about the Mayan Calendar- why the world didn’t end in 2012!
Mar 27, 2015
To Kill A Mockingbird’s Amazing Long-Lost Follow-Up Novel
Discover the astounding impact that the great literary masterwork To Kill A Mockingbird had on America during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, the story behind her long-lost follow-up novel Go Set A Watchman, and the controversy surrounding its July release.
Mar 03, 2015
Who Was the Greatest President: Washington or Lincoln?
Discover the amazing true story of the creation of the American Presidency, the genius of the Founding Fathers, and why Washington and Lincoln have become mythic figures in our great national saga.
Feb 12, 2015
Regional Accents and Ruthless Murders
Hear intriguing stories behind infamous crimes like the Tylenol murders and the case of Jack the Ripper. Then, see how hundreds of unconscious choices you make in the way you speak affect how others perceive you.
Feb 09, 2015
Busting Brain Myths and Bringing Balance through Tai chi
Learn about tai chi, the ancient practice that brings your body and mind in balance. An award-winning tai chi competitor and instructor explains how tai chi can improve your life in scientifically-proven ways. Then, turn to the newest research in neuroscience to learn about the easiest ways to maintain cognitive function as you age.
Dec 17, 2014
Magnificent Churches, Cosmic Wonders, and a Lovely Landscape
Discover why the greatest churches in the world are not necessarily the most grandiose; hear the fascinating story of an amazing ice moon the size of England; and learn what you should be doing this Fall to maintain and improve the landscaping in your yard.
Nov 21, 2014
Modern Parenting, the Age of the Entrepreneur, and our New Smithsonian Course
Compare the "successful parent" of the 21st century to one just a generation ago; delve into the fascinating world of lean, digital startups; and explore the original "tech revolution" with the professor of our newest Smithsonian course.
Oct 08, 2014
ISIS: A Cultural and Historical Perspective
The militant organization called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is grabbing front-page headlines and disrupting the global landscape. Learn why ISIS calls itself a caliphate; the source of their wealth and power; and whether their goal of a pan-Islamic state is achievable. What can the global community do to prevent ISIS from gaining more power?
Sep 15, 2014
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, How Things Go Viral, and the Neuroscience of Mindfulness
Discover the "perfect storm" of factors that made the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge so popular; learn how to apply big data to make big waves with your business; and learn why our brains are not hardwired for a sense of well-being.
Sep 11, 2014
Touch American History with the Smithsonian & The Great Courses
This month marks the inaugural Great Course produced in partnership with the Smithsonian. Join Host Ed Leon as he chats about Experiencing America: A Smithsonian Tour through American History with Professor Richard Kurin, the Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture at the Smithsonian.
Sep 03, 2014
Special Edition: The Ebola Outbreak
The outbreak of Ebola in West Africa is larger than any other Ebola outbreak in history, having over 1700 confirmed cases and over 950 deaths to date. Join Ed Leon of The Great Courses and Dr. Roy Benaroch as they discuss the outbreak, the transmission of the disease, its treatment, and what it means to the medical community.
Aug 12, 2014
Big Data, Big City Life, and a Big Question about Jesus Christ
Examine the many uses of Big Data: from Netflix to military intelligence; gain insights into the first cities of the ancient world; and consider the most fundamental question about Jesus Christ.
Jul 30, 2014
Our 500th Course, the Not-so-Dark Ages, and Trust Mechanisms
A veteran professor shares stories from his 24 years with The Great Courses; we discover that the Dark Ages was actually a time of great innovations; and we learn the various skills behind successful negotiation.
Jul 01, 2014
Family History, Philosophical Politics, and Joyful Math
Gain a personal connection to world history through genealogy, reconnect with the joy of mathematics, and scratch the surface of politics to reveal the philosophy beneath.
Jun 03, 2014
A Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter You
Get an inside view how doctors think and how it can help you become a better patient; revisit battles that could have sent history in an entirely different direction; and gain the confidence to invest in the stock market.
May 13, 2014
Explore the World with The Great Courses
Experience European cities that are frozen in time; schedule your vacation activities to capture the best photos; and gain insight on the latest discovery about the moment just after the Big Bang.
Apr 09, 2014
Four Thermodynamic Laws, Four-Year-Olds, and Our 24th Anniversary
Take a romp from the four laws of thermodynamics to an appropriate parenting style for your four-year-old to the twenty-four year history of The Great Courses!
Mar 19, 2014
Special Edition: The Crisis in Ukraine
Today, we have a surprise for you: a free special edition podcast! Host Ed Leon talks about the crisis in Ukraine with Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius. Does this current crisis bear historical resemblance to earlier European foreign policy emergencies? In what way is this crisis a result of the collapse of Communism and the Soviet Union?
Mar 13, 2014
Essential Science, Sacred Texts of the World, and Customer Stories
Ignorance is the fuel for science. Yearning is the fuel for the writers of sacred texts. And your passion for learning is our reason for being!
Feb 11, 2014
Barbarians of the Steppes, The Birth and Death of Stars, and Successful Individual Investing
Experience the fascinating world of Genghis Khan and the barbarians of the Steppes; learn the secrets of successful individual investors; and follow a star from stellar nursery to supernova explosion.
Jan 20, 2014
Learning Creativity, The Origin and Future of Earth, and Ancient Engineering
Discover the secrets to unlocking creativity, even if you don’t consider yourself creative; learn how geology factors into the evolution of life on Earth; and explore the genius inventions of the engineers of ancient Greece and Rome.
Dec 11, 2013
Linguistic Oddities, Yoga and Aging, Cultural Intelligence
Join The Great Courses and learn origins of the term "baby mama"; uncover the secrets to staying fit and healthy; and hear real-world advice for navigating cultures and customs of the world.
Nov 11, 2013
Classical Superstars, The Piano, and Robert Greenberg
Join host Ed Leon as Robert Greenberg, prolific composer, music scholar, and impresario of The Great Courses, explores the history of piano music and composers Beethoven and Mozart.
Oct 07, 2013
Christian Controversies, Storytelling, and Professor Appreciation Month
Did Jesus have a twin brother? How can you turn a personal experience into a compelling and powerful piece of storytelling? Has society ever truly learned the lessons of the costs of war? Join host Ed Leon as he explores these and other fascinating ideas by Bart D. Ehrman, Hannah B. Harvey, and J. Rufus Fears in celebration of Professor Appreciation Month at The Great Courses.
Sep 16, 2013
Culinary History, Battling Cancer, and Music and Math
Experience the lavish excess of a Renaissance feast; learn which tests accurately detect early stages of cancer...and the ones that do not; and understand how your music player transforms digital ones and zeros into the music you love with the underlying foundation of mathematics. Join host Ed Leon as he explores these and other fascinating ideas with experts from The Great Courses. Listen as professor and author Ken Albala takes us back in time to explore key eras of culinary history; researcher David Sadava explains the latest findings in the battle against cancer; and mathematician and musician David Kung reveals the amazing connections between music and mathematics.
Aug 07, 2013
Cyber Security, Gardening, and Mental Math
Dive into the high-stakes cyber battles being played out as countries, cyber criminals, and hackers seek control of the digital frontier. Increase your home's curb appeal and get ready for barbeques with this step-by-step guide to gardening. And keep your mind sharp with mental math "magic!"
In this riveting episode, explore fascinating ideas with experts from The Great Courses. Listen as:

--Paul Rosenzweig discusses the "hidden war" that now threatens nearly every American household;
--Melinda Myers shares gardening strategies to develop your green thumb; and
--Art Benjamin teaches you how to improve and expand your math potential by performing mind-bending calculations in your head.
More information about our courses can be found at
Jun 04, 2013
Photography, Space, Color, and Wine
Meteors hitting the earth? A National Geographic photographer who puts it all on the line for his art? How do colors affect your brain or your wine choices? Who better to give some guidance than the expert professors from The Great Courses! In this debut podcast that spans the artistic to the catastrophic, listen to our professors share their thoughts on asteroids, photography techniques, and more. Discover as:

--Joel Sartore, National Geographic photographer, shares stories of taking photos in the field;
--Neil deGrasse Tyson, renowned astrophysicist, talks about asteroids and meteors hitting the earth;
--William Lidwell, design expert, introduces his new course, How Colors Affect You; and
--Jennifer Simonetti Bryan, master of wine, describes our association with wine and color.

More information about our courses can be found at
Mar 26, 2013