President Edward Burger

Higher Ed Episodes

President Edward Burger and Jennifer Stayton of Austin National Public Radio affiliate KUT explore topics of higher education, lifelong learning, and exercising the brain in this lively and entertaining weekly podcast.

President Edward Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton

Episodes

Posted: June 2, 2019 at 6:00am

There is more talk in education these days about wellness and more attention to stress, anxiety and other factors that can impede learning. But there is less talk about the ways that good learning practices might improve health. In this episode of the KUT podcast “Higher Ed ,” KUT’s Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger discuss the role of learning and education in wellness.

There are plenty of other subjects we learn to master, so why not health and wellness?

Ed believes that health and wellness information could – and should – be offered at a micro level outside of school. A lot of that kind of information is certainly available already. The challenge is to make it accessible and impactful.

“It’s gotta be bite-sized. You can’t have a full lecture or something,” says Ed. “And it’s got to be meaningful and thought-provoking…. it has to get you.”

For instance, Ed suggests reinforcing a message delivered by a doctor or health care provider with a short video or other educational element; that model is not unlike lessons from a teacher reinforced by text or other materials.

“One two-minute video is not going to do anything,” Ed admits. “But if it kind of is a continuation that keeps moving maybe it stays in your head a little bit, and we become more mindful and maybe we can change.”

Listen to the full episode to hear more about how Ed believes learning and mindfulness can be brought to bear on health issues. It is also time for the solution to last episode’s sneaky arithmetic puzzler.

This episode was recorded on April 23, 2019.



 

Posted: May 19, 2019 at 6:00am

A “Higher Ed ” listener who teaches English in Osaka, Japan wrote in requesting a discussion of what the listener characterizes as “the tension between servicing the local community near an institution and appealing to international elements (students, partnerships, etc.).” In this episode of the KUT podcast “Higher Ed ,” KUT’s Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger discuss how campuses view their role in the local community and how that is balanced with farther flung connections.

You might have heard about “town-gown” relations, meaning the way a college or university interacts with the community where it is housed. Maybe this listener is curious about “globe-gown” relations?

Ed says he believes the focus of any higher education institution should, of course, be on the students, and any other relationships evolve from there.

“I believe that institutions of higher learning are designed for one purpose,” says Ed, “which is to inspire individuals to become better versions of themselves. And while the focus is on the students, obviously, I think that should spill out into the community at large.”

Ed believes international relationships do give both parties – both the institution and the country where connections are being made – an opportunity to grow.

“The idea of going out of one’s comfort zone and exploring a world and exploring people,” Ed says,” I think is a powerful way of learning for everybody, including those who are being visited.”

Listen to the full episode to hear more about how institutions balance “town-gown” and “globe-gown” relationships. It is also time for a new puzzler. Listen closely; this one contains a subtle arithmetic twist.

This episode was recorded on April 23, 2019.



 

Posted: May 5, 2019 at 6:00am

The pomp and circumstance of graduation brings students, teachers, staff and family together to celebrate achievement and usher students onto their next steps in learning and life. That ritual not only honors students but also creates a shared opportunity for a campus community to strengthen bonds. In this episode of the KUT podcast “Higher Ed ,” KUT’s Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger discuss the importance of ritual in education.

Graduation is probably the first ceremony that comes to mind when thinking about the rituals associated with education. Commencement certainly exists to celebrate achievements and bestow accolades. But Ed believes that ceremony also speaks to a deeper human truth.

“As human beings, we believe in community,” says Ed. “So the idea of having the community come together, which includes your family and your friends and your teachers and your colleagues who are students…. it’s a shared moment.”

Certainly the basic business of graduation could be done with no pomp and circumstance simply by mailing out diplomas at the end of the school year. Ed believes though that the entire community – not just the graduates – benefits from sharing in students’ triumphs.

“In today’s world, where everything moves so fast and everyone’s on their electronic devices,” says Ed, “to take a moment to come together as a community – whatever that definition means for that context of community, live in the same space – and celebrate that triumphant moment…it just uplifts the spirit. And so we want those moments of uplifting memories to hold onto.”

Most, if not all, of the rituals in education involve celebrating positive achievements. Left to his own devices to invent a new ritual in education, Ed would turn the focus to elevating something that is normally not celebrated – what he calls “effective failure” from which we learn lessons.

“I think the idea of having a big pomp and circumstance and genuine celebration when things don’t go right,” Ed believes, “as long as we have come to a place where we had an epiphany and we’re going to move forward in a way that will make us better – I think we should be celebrating that.”

Listen to the full episode for more on the role of ritual in education and what title Ed would give to his new ceremony. It is also time for the solution to last episode’s anagram puzzler. Listen closely, though, as it may not be as complicated as it first sounded.

This episode was recorded on April 2, 2019.