Dr David Pittaway: The CMR Audio Project, In His Words


Can long-form podcast-style interviews and conversations help encourage peer-to-peer and employee-to-public engagement? This is one of the questions I found myself asking when lockdowns threw a spanner in the works of the engagement events that I was supposed to facilitate as a philosophy postdoctoral fellow at the CMR.

I have listened to podcasts for well over a decade. I find them to be spaces in which depth and authenticity can thrive. This is in stark contrast to the norms of our era of digital disconnect dominated by memes, selfies, Facebook feuds, click-bait, infotainment, infinite scrolling, agenda setting, platform user influence, topic oversimplification, sensationalised news and echo chambers. Unsurprisingly, many among us have forgotten how to listen.  

With a long-form podcast style interview, one has to listen. And in listening, one cannot accost the other with a knee-jerk reaction that is the proclamation of offence or disagreement or outrage. We must truly hear the other person, even if we disagree with what is said. In hearing the other, in glimpsing something of their story and their motivations and their concerns, we might arrive at an understanding that involves ideas other than the preconceptions that we brought to the table.

Departments, offices, organisations, businesses, institutes, etc. are constituted by people with diverse backgrounds and views. The members of the CMR are a diverse bunch, and by showcasing a bit of what makes some of them tick, a bit about who they are and what they do and why they do it, I hope to foreground some of the human dynamics that collectively constitute part of the CMR.

As a philosopher who has been focusing on ecological issues for a long time, I am deeply concerned that the economic growth mindset and agenda, as well as capitalist business-as-usual, are driving the destruction of inherently valuable natural ecologies. This is relevant to the broad scope of the CMR – life in the oceans is diminishing, its waters acidifying, thanks to human activity. The interviews give me an opportunity to slip questions about ecology into the mix and to hear my colleagues’ considered responses. Hopefully the questions and answers engage listeners as well.    

Hosting any podcast or audio project is an honour and a privilege. In a way, it is an alibi to get someone’s attention in a manner that is seldom possible, where one gets to push well beyond the “hello-how-are-you-I’m-fine-thanks” of everyday exchanges. For me as an interviewer and host, I cherish the opportunities afforded to me to push beyond surfaces. Perhaps such a push resonates with the role of philosophy in society.

Thank you to all the guests who have been, and will be, interviewed for the CMR Audio Project. It takes courage to put oneself ‘out there’ and on the record. Considering the mounting socio-political, economic, ecological, and spiritual challenges that we must confront as a species lest we sink under the weight of our own folly, genuine and authentic conversation can play a small but important role, even (and perhaps especially) if it means making oneself vulnerable.

To listen to the interviews, click here. Get in touch with David by emailing him at cmraudioproject@gmail.com