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What Happens Next?

Entered in Branded Podcast


At Monash University, we’re dedicated to lifelong learning, but we’re also dedicated to using that knowledge to change the world for good. The University’s current strategic plan charts how Monash will actively contribute to addressing some of the most significant challenges of the age: tackling climate change, ensuring geopolitical security and supporting thriving communities.

Creating the 2022 seasons of the University’s podcast, What Happens Next?, we aimed to position Monash as a bold university, unafraid to take risks in these areas to pursue a better future. Like the University itself, WHN? aims to face the challenges of the day head-on, reflecting the restless spirit that’s characterised our community and commitment since day one.

It was important to us that the podcast act as a sophisticated yet accessible entry point, unobtrusively positioning our experts front-of-mind and the University as a key player in improving the world.

An integral element of our larger thought leadership strategy, WHN? supports and is complemented by the University’s thought leadership hub, our documentary series, a soon-to-be publicly released independent documentary and live events for students, staff and the community. It’s a proof point for the University, demonstrating that our marketing campaign – Change It – is based on action, not lip service.

WHN? isn’t a podcast about Monash University, it's a podcast about building a better tomorrow – something our international audience knows won't be accomplished without our world-leading expertise and collaborations.

Strategy and Execution

In What Happens Next?, academic and commentator Dr Susan Carland steps through the sliding doors with global experts to look at some of the most significant issues facing us today, discovering what could happen if we don’t change, and what the world could look like if we do. Susan acts as a proxy for our intellectually curious audience members who want to know the facts behind today’s headlines, and about the evidence-based approaches used to tackle these issues.

Using the University’s strategic plan as a launching point, our team developed two seasons in 2022 that examined topical issues with a global lens that resonated with listeners in Australia and beyond. Ranging from weight loss to loneliness, to the future of soldiering to slow fashion, we based these subjects on the world-leading work University staff and students conduct every day.

We wanted to build on the successes of previous seasons by including a wide range of voices. Our guest list ensured that WHN? provided access to international guest experts, including Monash academics at the top of their fields, industry leaders, and activists on the coalface of change. This conscious curation of guests enabled us to reach a larger international audience and to take an interdisciplinary approach to each of the topics we covered.

Breaking the larger strategic goals into specific issues enabled us to provide our audience concrete examples of the current state of matters and how good research and innovation – already underway – could improve the world. We strove to convey our guests’ deep understanding of each issue to listeners who may not have specialised knowledge but want to learn how to make positive changes in the space.

Throughout 2022, we underscored the podcast’s relationship with the University’s content stack by using our show notes to link to further information and resources from Monash, creating the perfect launching point for audience members seeking a deep dive. Throughout the year, the podcast was also regularly embedded in related articles on Lens, our thought leadership hub, reaching new listeners.

The saturation of the podcast market in the wake of the global pandemic presented a major challenge in 2022. We were conscious of competing for listeners’ ears with more podcasts than ever before, and that our investigations into each topic needed to bring something different to the table – practical tips from leading experts that would help our audience members themselves make the world a better place.

Additionally, the 2022 federal election in Victoria placed the University in a demanding position. It was important that Monash discuss issues such as climate change and human rights without bias or the endorsement of a particular political party. As a result, 2022’s WHN? episodes were nuanced, advocating for positive change without prescribing black-and-white solutions.


As a direct result of our 2022 strategy, What Happens Next? received 52,784 downloads during the submission period – more than 1,000 per week on average. This is a 34% increase in downloads over 2021.

Two episodes premiering in 2022 (“Why is it so hard to lose weight?” and “Where are women in peacebuilding?” are among our top 10 most-downloaded episodes at the 30-day mark.

In 2022, WHN? charted internationally in 14 countries, reaching #68 here in Australia.

Our new promotional efforts resulted in the podcast being highlighted twice in 2022 on Apple Podcast’s homepage, once as a featured show and once in its “Deep Conversations” edit.

Additionally, WHN? won two awards in the inaugural Signal Awards, earning gold in the "Branded Shows & Advertising – Documentary" category and bronze in the "Best Conversation Starter" category.

The podcast also fulfils our goal of placing Monash’s academic experts front-of-mind. A 2022 episode on the conservation of Indigenous languages resulted in a number of media appearances for several of our guests. The team has also been contacted by an educator interested in using our 2022 series on fast fashion as part of their curriculum.

Beyond quantitative measurements, we’re connecting with our audience.  A 2022 five-star review on Apple Podcasts reads, “Love this show. Really impressive guest selection, and I like that Susan Carland covers big issues with an academic lens, but in an accessible way. It’s interesting to hear the different angles each expert brings to the topics.”


Video for What Happens Next?

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Monash University


Entry Credits