The Big Question podcast

Each month in The Big Question, we interview experts from the University of Calgary to explore our greatest challenges and discoveries — from the microbiome to the impacts of space weather to Indigenous reconciliation. If you want to stay on the leading edge of research across disciplines, this is the podcast for you.

Episode 1 — Where have all our female premiers gone?

In this episode of The Big Question, we talk to Dr. Melanee Thomas, PhD, an associate professor of political science at the University of Calgary, about why there are so few female leaders in Canadian politics.

Episode 2 — How do we right the wrongs of over 100 years ago?

Political science prof Dr. Gina Starblanket, PhD, joins us in the studio to discuss the signing of land treaties between the Government of Canada and Indigenous peoples, and the consequences they have to this day.

Episode 3 — What's Canada's place in a changing world?

After decades of relative stability, the Western world is experiencing a time of political upheaval. Populism is on the rise, major powers like the U.S. and the U.K. are in turmoil, and the very concept of liberal democracy is under threat from hostile governments. We talk to Dr. Rob Huebert, PhD, an associate professor of political science at UCalgary, about how this rapidly changing landscape affects Canada.

Episode 4 — Can oil be green?

Much of the conversation around climate change focuses on energy transition — moving away from hydrocarbons toward renewable energy sources, and creating an economy less reliant on fossil fuels. But what about the carbon that's already in the atmosphere? We talk to Dr. Steven Bryant, PhD, a professor of chemical and petroleum engineering in UCalgary's Schulich School of Engineering, and Canada Excellence Research Chair in Materials Engineering for Unconventional Oil Reservoirs, about the possibility of "greening" oil and gas production.

Episode 5 — Is climate change a health issue?

When we think of climate change, we think of environmental impact. But what about our health? A changing planet affects our bodies just as much as the ecosystems we live in. In this episode of The Big Question, we talk to Dr. Joe Vipond, MD, about how climate change can affect our health and wellness.

Episode 6 — Why do we hate carbon taxes?

Many policy analysts agree that carbon pricing is an effective and fair way to curb emissions and change behaviour. Yet political resistance is fierce, with growing opposition among voters to carbon taxes and other policies. We talk to Dr. Harrie Vredenburg, PhD, a sustainable development professor in the Haskayne School of Business, about why carbon taxes are so unpopular.

Episode 7 — Can a little dirt be good for us?

We've all been taught that microbes are unsanitary and bad for us. But it turns out the microbes that live in and on our bodies are crucial to our health. And when we sanitize obsessively, we harm them. We talk to Dr. Marie-Claire Arrieta, PhD, an assistant professor in the Cumming School of Medicine, about what we can do to help our microbes grow and thrive instead of bombarding them with sanitizers.

Episode 8 — Can our microbes make us healthier?

We tend to think of disease as an invasion of foreign microbes. But the microbes we live with all the time — our microbiome — play a huge role in determining our health, or lack of it. In this episode, we look at how our microbiomes influence our immune systems and what we can do to influence them back.

Episode 9 — What about the bugs . . . down there?

Our microbiomes program our immune systems from the moment we're born, and they affect every system in our bodies for the rest of our lives. But so far, much of the focus has been on our gut microbiomes, and the connection between our brains and our guts. But what about the microbiomes in other parts of our bodies? Dr. Laura Sycuro, a professor in UCalgary's Cumming School of Medicine, talks about the microbes that live with us in places we often don't want to talk about.

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