Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS)

Publication Date

Spring 3-31-2022


Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, College of


Honors Program

BURS Faculty Advisor

Robin Paris

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


The United States has the largest prison population in the world, with over two million incarcerated prisoners. One of the contributing factors to these skyrocketing rates was the War on Drugs which began in the early 1970s in the U.S. The issue of mass incarceration is complicated due to its deep-seated roots that have been embedded in society for centuries. The process of actively changing or reforming the broken social justice and mass incarceration systems begins with educating citizens about these issues, which will, in turn, garner the support needed to enact change. Since technology has become the staple of modern society, it is essential to use technology as a resource to connect and educate the masses. Presently, many people prefer to listen to podcasts or audible books instead of reading a physical copy of a book. Podcasts are a great educational and compatible resource for all generations and age groups. Art can take on many different mediums, including the media arts which is an art form that utilizes audio to address a specific audience or purpose. Especially as the media becomes more prominent in modern society, podcasting has and will continue to serve as an educational tool and artistic discipline. One that can communicate pressing issues such as mass incarceration to a variety of platforms and audiences.

A podcast can convey the same level of emotion and power that a typical painting or sculpture can, rather in a technological form. According to Ethan Cramer-Flood, author of the article, ‘Global Podcast Listener Forecast 2021-2025’, it is explained that, “The US leads the world in podcast listenership across every category. In 2021, 117.8 million people in the country will be monthly podcast listeners, representing 40.0% of all internet users. Nigel Poor is one of the first individuals to host podcasts that cover topics such as mass incarceration and the prison system, paving the way for more podcasts of this kind.

These statistics and individuals have played significant roles in the creation of our podcast, which is centered around mass incarceration and the prison and social justice systems. Thus, the ‘Behind Bars’ podcast was born. This conversational-style podcast addresses serious issues such as mass incarceration, inequality, racism, and the death penalty, among other topics. These issues, which have long been swept under the rug, will reach new generations, in a modern way. Each episode will include an interview with an individual that is knowledgeable or experienced in the areas of criminal justice, incarceration, and art. The first episode of this podcast series showcases an interview with Lucian E. Dervan, a certified criminal justice attorney that currently serves as a law professor at Belmont University. These interviews support the topics of the podcast and contribute to the overall conversation of bringing change and awareness to mass incarceration. Our future episodes will focus on issues such as the school-to-prison pipeline and how we can prevent students from being subjected to arrest. Therefore, our goal is to educate the greater Belmont and Nashville communities about the adverse effects of mass incarceration through communication and education via an accessible and efficient podcasting platform.

Included in

Fine Arts Commons