MIDDLEBURY, Vt. ? Middlebury College and three universities, all leaders in the field of international studies, have joined together to formally launch the University Channel at http://uc.princeton.edu/main/. The online resource provides free up-to-date and on-demand access to a wide range of public policy lectures, panel discussions and events from academic institutions all over the world.

The four charter members are:

  • The Rohatyn Center for International Affairs at Middlebury College
  • The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University
  • The School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University
  • The Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin

The University Channel was created so that the public can hear the full-length presentations of academics, researchers and policymakers who are dedicated to solving the problems of the world. Universities routinely host such events but, until now, lacked a way to share the presentations with a wider public. The charter members form the steering committee of a larger consortium of universities that will pool video and audio recordings of public affairs events in a central online portal.

Recent broadcast-quality audio and video selections include Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for reconstruction in Iraq, speaking at the University of Texas at Austin on Oct. 27; retired Lieutenant General William Odom, director of the National Security Agency from 1985 to 1988, speaking at Middlebury College on Oct. 11; and United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, sharing his parting policy address at Princeton University on Nov. 28.

“We are proud to be a founding partner in a venture that invites anyone with an internet connection to engage in the free exchange of ideas,” said Allison Stanger, director of the Rohatyn Center for International Affairs and a professor of political science at Middlebury College. “In myriad ways, the University Channel can play a critical role in advancing our common quest for solutions to global problems.”

Anne-Marie Slaughter, dean of The Woodrow Wilson School, agreed that the University Channel addresses the need for a public platform for the discussion of the critical issues. “Universities have access to such an extraordinary wealth of resources to help us think intelligently about the most pressing issues of the day - both from within our faculties and from top practitioners around the country and the world who come in and share their analyses and experiences,” said Slaughter. “We want to make these resources available to a much wider public, to provide viewers with the kind of analysis and dialogue that rarely gets aired on commercial media.”

The prototype for the University Channel, which became available in July 2005 and slowly developed its core membership, was included in the “Top Ten Podcasts of 2005,” compiled by Slate magazine, and was also named one of the “100 Best Practices of 2005” by Campus Technology, a monthly publication focusing exclusively on the use of technology across all areas of higher education.

According to the University Channel’s executive director, Donna Liu, the project proves there is a great demand for this kind of public affairs content. By her calculations, the University Channel site has experienced, since its inception:

  • more than 100,000 downloads per month from its podcast;
  • more than 650,000 hits per month;
  • a potential television audience of more than 5 million viewers who watch the programs on local access or independent channels through the University Channel’s television redistribution partners.

The University Channel is based at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. For more information, contact executive director Donna Liu at (609) 258-8425 or dmliu@princeton.edu.