Students closed out of overcrowded lectures delivered by popular speakers can now watch the talks from the comfort of their own dorm rooms.
In July, the Wilson School launched University Channel, a website that compiles video recordings of high-profile lectures at different universities and makes them available to the public as free streaming video. Contributors include Princeton, Harvard, University of Chicago and UC Berkeley.
The website, uc.princeton.edu, also presents its content in high-resolution files appropriate for broadcast television. Patriot Media has partnered with the channel to air the lectures for free through its On Demand service, and TigerTV has access to the files as well.
Recent posts to the site include a panel discussion on Chief Justice-Designate John Roberts at Yale Law School and lectures by the presidents of Iraq and Pakistan at Columbia. The channel focuses on international and public affairs lectures.
University Channel director Donna Liu said she came up with the idea for the project when she realized how many great public affairs events Princeton and other universities host each year.
While attendance at these events is limited by the number of seats in an auditorium, the possibilities of outreach with a television channel are endless. "Our goal is to seek out these lectures and make them more available to the public," Liu said.
University Channel is not Liu's first experience with the national media. Before she came to the University in 2002 as a teaching fellow, Liu was a news producer and manager at CNN.
"We feel that public and international affairs discussion is nonexistent [in the media]. University Channel was created to bridge that gap," Liu said.
Though she is talking to other universities about getting involved, Liu admits that most of her time has been spent in getting the channel — which she described as being in its "beta phase" — up and running.
The site recorded more than 25,000 hits in its first month of operation, Liu said. University Channel began with a core group of contributors and a focused current affairs topic, but it is looking to expand. Liu hopes to make the contributor list more global and cover universities around the world.
Though University Channel may already be considered successful, Liu feels it needs to be bigger to fulfill its stated goal. "If many universities collaborated, it would be a true public forum," Liu said.
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