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February 27, 2009

Top 25 Free Resources

We've been sending out our Free Resource of the Day Emails for three years now. If you've not subscribed yet, we highly encourage you to do so. Who knows what magnificent free audio & video learning resources we'll dig up in the next year.

Here's a top 25 list we put together of the best of the best that we've featured in the last year:

25. Edward O. Wilson

Watch this streaming video from MeaningOfLife.tv featuring two-time Pulitzer Prize winning biologist Edward O. Wilson. Host Robert Wright questions Wilson on many of his ideas including his once controversial thesis of sociobiology in which he argued that the human mind is shaped as much by genetic inheritance as it is by culture. Wright questions Wilson on his beliefs as a materialist, a biological determinist, and a secular-humanist. Wilson provides his opinions on intelligent design, free will, and how science and religion can potentially come together in order to save life on earth. This interview serves as an excellent introduction to the ideas of this highly influential biologist.

24. A New Reformation: Creation Spirituality and the Transformation of Christianity

Controversial religious firebrand Matthew Fox details his ideas for a New Religious Reformation in this lecture delivered at Cody's Books. When he found himself expelled from the Dominican Order by the man would become the latest pope, Matthew Fox emerged to become one of the most visible proponents of the Creation Spirituality movement. Drawing from a deep knowledge of theological history and taking Martin Luther's example to heart, Fox envisions a modern religious shakeup that will acknowledge a more varied society while remaining true to religious truth. A must for anyone interested on how religion is coping with new 21st century challenges. This talk is available on streaming video and MP3 download from FORA.tv.

23. In Depth: John Updike

In this generous 3-hour interview provided on streaming video by BookTV, John Updike talks about his life as a writer and observer of the human condition. Recently the literary world mourned the death of Updike whose literary reputation places him among the likes of Mailer, Vonnegut and Roth as one of the great contemporary American novelists. Here you can watch him as he examines his childhood, discusses his early start with the New Yorker Magazine, and answers questions about his prolific career as an author and literary critic. This streaming video is available through the BookTV website.

22. The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe Podcast

Steven Novella leads an eclectic panel of Skeptics in an effort to bring a dose of reality to the news of the weird. Each week the hosts go over several prominent news items dealing with fringe science, paranormal happenings and other fantastics claims that defy logic. Rounded out by in-depth interviews and a special weekly segment featuring elder-skeptic James Randi, The Skeptics Guide to the Universe is ongoing counter-argument to the many belief claims that often make major headlines.

21. Nutrition and Physical Activity for a Lifetime

Get some sound health advice from professor Christina Economos of Tufts University as she delivers this hour-long lecture at the Chautauqua Institution. First she addresses some of the health issues facing the United States focusing primarily on obesity and the improper balance of bone, muscle, and fat as people age. She then talks about actions individuals can take in regards to their nutrition and physical activity that can lead to dramatic improvements in all areas of one's health. Professor Economos references many studies and provides specific recommendations for the human body's need of exercise and nutrition. She recommends strength training, fruits & vegetables, and many other natural ways for people to live healthy into old age. This lecture is available on streaming video and MP3 download from FORA.tv.

20. Is Abortion Morally Justifiable in a Free Society?

Listen to this 90-minute debate offered by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. It's a well-organized debate with interesting arguments for pro-life advocate & philosophy professor Peter Kreeft and pro-choice advocate and author of A Defense of Abortion David Boonin. Boonin argues for the right of a woman to not keep the fetus on "life support" in the womb, while Kreeft that abortion is wrong by moral and religious standards. This debate is available on MP3 download and streaming video.

19. The Masters of The Secret Podcast

This podcast features conversations with teachers that were featured in the movie The Secret. Bill Harris, director of the Centerpointe Research Institute, conducts the conversations which cover the spiritual and practical applications of the law of attraction by the teachers that are interviewed. The teachers included in this podcast so far are John Assaraf, Hale Dwoskin, Joe Vitale, Jack Canfield, Dr. Michael Beckwith, Lisa Nichols, and James Ray.

18. An Hour with the Honorable Dalai Lama

Listen to this hour-long conversation with the Honorable Dalai Lama on the Charlie Rose Show. In this interview Charlie Rose talks with the Dalai Lama about the political situation in Tibet and China, and what the Dalai Lama's hopes are for the Tibetan people. The Dalai Lama then talks about exercising compassion on a global scale and the ways in which he feels this will make the 21st century a better century than the 20th century. This talk is available on streaming video.

17. Barnes & Noble.com's Meet the Writers Podcast

Listen to this series of 15-minute interviews offered by Barnes & Noble. Host Steve Bertrand talks with authors of many of the most popular books available asking questions about their writing career and their latest books. Some of the authors interviewed include Arthur Agatston, M.D., Simon Winchester, Cokie Roberts, Arianna Huffington, Jimmy Carter, Martha Beck, Marilu Henner, Samantha Power, Dean Ornish, John Gray, Ph.D., Newt Gingrich, Tommy Lasorda, Madeleine Albright, David Sedaris, Anne Geddes, Yann Martel, Paula Deen, Anthony Bourdain, Judy Blume, Dave Barry, Garrison Keillor, Joyce Carol Oates, Tony Dungy, Michael Beschloss, Michael Ondaatje, Khaled Hosseini, Robert Kurson, Michael Chabon, Chuck Palahniuk, Elaine Pagels, Anne Lamott, Thomas Ricks, Tavis Smiley, Mireille Guiliano, Eric Schlosser, Chuck Klosterman, Joan Didion, Augusten Burroughs, Frank McCourt, Tim Russert, David Maraniss, and Sarah Vowell. Plenty of podcasts to choose from!

16. The Neuroscience of Consciousness, Perception, and Self

While covering the Iraq war in 2006, TV news Journalist Bob Woodruff suffered a traumatic brain injury after nearly losing his life to a roadside bomb. In this fascinating discussion from the Aspen Institute, Woodruff traces how he rebuilt his ability to comprehend the world step by step; showing the viewers video of his first few days of rehabilitation through to his still ongoing attempts to recover lost brain functions. Woodruff offers a prime case study for scientists that are attempting to uncover the many mysteries of human consciousness. This talk is available on streaming video and MP3 download through FORA.tv.

15. Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Legacy

In this program of Speaking of Faith, host Krista Tippett talks with producer Martin Doblmeier, whose 2003 documentary covered Dietrich Bonhoeffer's life and thought. Doblmeier tells the story of the German Lutheran pastor and theologian, as Bonhoeffer made difficult decisions in his opposition to Nazism and his attempts to assassinate Adolf Hitler. This program also explores Bonhoeffer's faith and theology including a discussion of his work Letters and Papers from Prison, which Bonhoeffer wrote from the point of his arrest in 1943 until his execution by the Gestapo in 1945. This talk can be downloaded on MP3 from the Speaking of Faith website.

14. Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac Podcast

The Writer's Almanac Podcast hosted by Garrison Keillor is a wonderful way to start your day. Though well known already for being the figurehead of NPR's "A Prairie Home Companion", Keillor has been offering this daily dose of poetry and history for many years as well. Each episode typically begins with a note on a person or event that has shaped a given day in history, followed by a poem rendered in Keillor's peerless style.

13. Music: Heart, Soul and Dollar - Robert Greenberg

Listen to this thrilling lecture delivered by charismatic professor Robert Greenberg and offered by the Chautauqua Institution. Dr. Greenberg has recorded more than 500 lectures on a range of composers and classical music genres for The Teaching Company. In this lecture at the Chautauqua Institution, Dr. Greenberg provides his definition of music and gives examples of what constitutes as music that deserves our attention. He also talks about three performances that were forthcoming at the Chautauqua Institution, covering pieces by Dmitri Shostakovich and Johannes Brahms. This lecture is available through FORA.tv on streaming video and MP3 audio download.

12. Voices of Wisdom Podcast

Check out key audio excerpts from the most popular personal and spiritual growth titles offered by the publisher Sounds True. This podcast features Dr. Steven Gurgevich talking about the basics of the The Self-Hypnosis Diet, Jack Kornfield discussing Meditation for Beginners, David Deida elaborates on what he means in his title Enlightened Sex, Jon Kabat-Zinn summarizes mindfulness, Dr. Andrew Weil discusses the benefits of walking, Cynthia Bourgeault looks into what Jesus meant when he mentioned the kingdom of heaven, and many more interesting excerpts from other Sounds True authors including Adyashanti, Pema Chodron, Ken Wilber, Eckhart Tolle, and others. Subscribe to and download this podcast of spiritual and personal wisdom.

11. Francis Fukuyama: The End Of History Revisited

Fifteen years after the publication of his 1992 book The End of History and the Last Man, author Francis Fukuyama still believes in his thesis that political & economic history is reaching its end in liberal democracy and free market capitalism. In this talk delivered at the Long Now Foundation, Fukuyama defends his argument, pointing out the expansion of science, technology, and free market capitalism and how it has increased the wealth of much of the developing world over the past 15 years, which has in turn led to liberal democracy in many nations. He does point out some of the criticisms of his thesis such as Samuel Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations book, which argues that certain cultures will never conform to Western liberal democracy & free markets. Huntington argues this will lead to an ongoing clash of civilizations. Fukuyama doesn't believe that his "End of History" thesis is certain, and he still feels there is a lot of work to be done in building institutions in developing states, fighting global warming, organizing global cooperation, and preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction. He fields a number of questions, including one regarding the second half of his thesis which addresses Nietzsche's concept of The Last Man, which he feels is now being catered to under the system of the European Union. It is a fascinating lecture that is available on MP3 download and streaming video through FORA.tv.

10. Bill Moyers Journal - PBS Podcast

In this podcast provided weekly by PBS, Billy Moyers draws from his deep historical and journalistic experience to get a better handle on what Americans are concerned with most in the here and now. Each hour-long episode features interviews with a wide range of guests as they discuss politics, religion, economics, and prominent social issues. Guided by Moyers unbiased, yet passionate approach to the material, The Journal is a great resource for anyone that wants to see how the headlines are affecting everyday life.

9. Constitutional Conversations Podcast

Listen to dozens of podcasts from the National Constitution Center many of which involve discussing the Constitution and the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizens. You'll find podcasts from such speakers as Jeffrey Sachs, Valerie Plame Wilson, Newt Gingrich, Bill Bradley, Ken Burns, Tom Brokaw, StoryCorps founder Dave Isay, Tom DeLay, Walter Isaacson, Tavis Smiley, Dinesh D'Souza, John McCain, David Brooks, Gordon Wood, Justice Stephen Breyer, John Bogle, Richard Clarke, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Cornel West, Pat Buchanan, and many others! This 4th of July weekend, enjoy some free podcasts from the National Constitution Center.

8. The Republic

The Republic by Plato is one of the most influential works of philosophy in history. In the form of Socratic dialogue, Plato's teacher and protagonist Socrates sets out to find an answer to the question: "What is justice?". Along the way Socrates discusses the ideal city-state and his theory of forms, which includes his famous allegory of the cave. This is a new, freely available, unabridged edition of The Republic. It is well read by narrator Doug McLeod and is available on MP3 download from ejunto.com.

7. President's Forum with Thich Nhat Hanh

Watch or listen to this talk delivered by Vietnamese-born Buddhist teacher, scholar, and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh delivered at the Asia Society with questions from Asia Society President Vishakha N. Desai. The 81-year-old Thich Nhat Hanh begins with a brief meditation followed by an extended talk about his life as a Buddhist monk and teacher, including his recent return trips to Vietnam. Vishakha N. Desai asks some difficult questions such as how to deal with violent terrorists like Osama bin Laden. This talk is available on streaming video and MP3 download from FORA.tv.

6. Barack Obama: Presidential Inaugural Address

Listen to President Barack Obama's Inaugural Address which he delivered today, January 20, 2009. In this speech President Obama sets forth the challenges that America faces and his confidence in the American people to rise to meet these challenges. He clearly states his intention to usher forth a new political era where politicians can "set aside childish things." This 22-minute speech is available on MP3 download and streaming audio & video through American Rhetoric.

5. Tribal Leadership

Zappos.com (a popular online retailer specializing in footwear) is currently offering a free audio download of the book Tribal Leadership by Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright (published by Harper Collins in 2008). The book is a result of an eight-year study of approximately 24,000 people in over two dozen corporations focusing on how tribes (groups of 20 to 150 people in which everyone knows everyone else, or at least knows of everyone else) drive organization's to success. The book examines the five stages of employee tribal development and how an effective tribal leader can drive an organization to success. This audio book is available on MP3 download through Zappos.com. Note: Registration is required on the Zappos.com site in order to download this audio book.

4. AM Focus

Listen to this 13-minute visualization & relaxation process for focusing in the morning from Dr. Patrick Porter. Dr. Porter guides you through positive affirmations for your day. Combined with soothing music, this audio program is a great way to begin your day. This free audio download was published through our TeachOutLoud service and is available on MP3 download through LearnOutLoud.com.

3. The Scarlet Letter

Listen to one of the all-time great works of American literature: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. This newly published edition from LoudLit.org is professionally narrated by Mary Woods and available unabridged on MP3 download. Hear the tale of Hester Prynne who is forced to wear a scarlet letter "A" on her bosom after she commits adultery and becomes pregnant in the 17th-century Puritan village of Boston, Massachusetts. Download and listen to this American classic today!

2. 1 Year Daily Audio Bible Podcast

This podcast will take you through the entire Bible in 365 separate podcasts to be listened to over the next year. Each podcast is read by Nashville, TN based record producer Brian Hardin. Instead of going through the Bible chronologically, he selects four different passages for each podcast, which go through books of the Old and New Testament simultaneously, along with a Proverb and a Psalm. If you'd like to read the Bible more, but can't find the time of day, then try listening to the entire Bible in one year with the Bible In a Year Podcast.

1. Poetry Out Loud: Audio Guide

The Poetry Out Loud audio guide hosted by Dana Gioia offers a valuable educational overview of the art, history and overwhelming social importance of poetry. Throughout the series, Gioia collects crucial insight from writers, teachers and actors that can help the student gain a better understanding of how to understand and appreciate a given poem. In what is perhaps the most satisfying treat of this collection, listeners are given the chance to hear famous voices such as Anthony Hopkins and Angela Landsbury as they recite classics from Shakespeare, Yeats, Frost to Eliot and many more. Download and listen to this series of MP3s from the National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Out Loud program.