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Ways & Means Presents: The Social Issues That Stump Us

Courtesy of Ways & Means

What does it mean to take a unique approach to solving problems like gun violence, climate change, voter apathy or racism? It means asking hard questions in different ways and tracking the answers through close study of human behavior. 

Today, The State of Things continues a partnership with the podcast “Ways & Means” which highlights faculty research from Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy. Journalist Emily Hanford guides listeners through conversations about three taboo topics: guns, race and death. Duke professor Philip J. Cook’s research traces the underground gun market and answers the question: How do criminals get guns? Journalists and scholars explore shifting ideas about whiteness, and health policy expert Don Taylor shares what he heard when he asked terminally ill people: What do you really want at the end of your life?

Part One: How Do Criminals Get Their Guns

Duke professor Philip J. Cook has been tracking the underground gun market in America for the last 15 years. For one project, his team went to one of the largest jails in the country and asked the inmates one simple question: where do you get your guns?

Part Two: Who Is White

History shows that ideas about our nation’s racial categories – what they are and who fits into them – are always changing. And in particular, answers to the question “who’s white?” have never been simple.

Part Three: Beautiful Death

What do seniors really want when they’re dying?

Ways & Means Music: Blue Dot Sessions/Creative Commons and Chopin Waltz in A minor B.150 Opus Posth. performed by Paul Barton. Licensed under Creative Commons.


Carol Jackson has been with WUNC since 2006. As Digital News Editor, she writes stories for, and helps reporters and hosts make digital versions of their radio stories. She is also responsible for sharing stories on social media. Previously, Carol spent eight years with WUNC's nationally syndicated show The Story with Dick Gordon, serving as Managing Editor and Interim Senior Producer.
Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist and the host and creator of "Embodied," a weekly radio show and podcast about sex, relationships & health. She's also the managing editor of WUNC's on-demand content.
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