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: August 11, 2019 at 6:00am

This episode was originally posted on Nov. 18, 2018.

In school, our reading choices are mostly dictated by what is assigned for classes or from reading lists. But once we are out of school, the decisions are up to us.  In this episode of KUT’s podcast “Higher Ed ,” Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT’s Jennifer Stayton discuss the joys and impacts of lifelong reading.

Ed believes that there are a couple of keys to staying well read beyond our school years.

One: expand the canon of what is considered “must reads” in school and beyond.

“Those canons traditionally are Western, usually written by white dead men,” says Ed. “What about the voices of individuals who are out there, in history and beyond, who were creative beings, or even not, but just having their story told….And so now, the question is, how do we find a balance where we can get a diversity of voices and perspectives?”

Two: read books that will push us in reading and in other arenas.

“Reading can transport you to a world where you might not be comfortable but you can actually find your way,” Ed believes. “That’s really the exciting world of ideas which can be reflected through reading.” Ed says exploring new ideas in our reading can lead us to exploring new ideas in other aspects of our lives.

What are on Ed’s and Jennifer’s bookshelves? Ed says he prefers non-fiction and likes reading about the art of comedy. But he also was completely mesmerized by the “Harry Potter”series. Jennifer also favors non-fiction but cites “The Thorn Birds” and “The World According to Garp” as favorite reads from the past.

What is the one classic series that Jennifer has never touched? And what is the one book that Ed suggests everyone read?

Listen to the full episode to find out, and to get the answers to the riddles about veggies and witches!

This episode was recorded on Oct. 30, 2018.



 

Posted: August 4, 2019 at 6:00am

This episode was originally published on Oct. 12, 2018.

Choosing a major is a rite of passage for higher education students, and it can feel like a – dare we say it –major decision with lifelong implications. In this episode of KUT’s podcast “Higher Ed ,” Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT’s Jennifer Stayton discuss what could – and sometimes should –go into choosing a major plan of study.

Sometime in a student’s higher education career, a decision has to be made about a major, that set of courses a student chooses to study a subject more deeply. The decision can feel like a significant, irrevocable one that can impact the rest of their lives. But Ed suggests dialing back the stress to make that one, perfect decision.

“The major itself is not as important as the experience and the growth opportunities that come from that major,” he says. “That’s why you hear so many people, especially in the liberal arts and science, talk about how it doesn’t even matter what your major is. As long as you’re involved and interested and engaged, you will have that growth experience that will allow you to become better and to figure out the next thing you do, and that leads you to the next thing … because you’re constantly going toward your passion.”

Ed also believes timelines that require students to declare a major at a specific point in time during their college career can discourage academic exploration and excitement about discovering new fields of interest.

“I’d like to see people declaring majors when they really are intellectually fired up about the thing, rather than it’s time to do it.”

Listen to the full episode for more about the process of academic discovery that can lead to declaring a major. It is also time for the solution to the puzzler about escaping a room while avoiding scorching heat and a fire-breathing dragon. Think it can’t be done? Wait til you hear the oh so simple solution!

This episode was recorded on Sept. 28, 2018.

 



 

Posted: July 28, 2019 at 6:00am

This episode was originally posted on Sept. 30, 2018.

Most people do not necessarily enjoy being told when they are wrong. The formal education experience can at times seem like it is full of those moments – between corrections, grades, comments and evaluations.  In this episode of KUT’s podcast “Higher Ed ,” Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT’s Jennifer Stayton discuss ways to correct without rejecting.

Those big, red X’s splashed all over a Math test or those comments scribbled in the margins of papers can lead students to focus on the fact that they got an answer wrong, instead of the fact that they have a learning opportunity to master some material. And nasty comments from a student on a teacher or course evaluation may not motivate teachers to do better.

“If someone just says too much work, or, you know, Burger was so mean I can’t stand him, that’s not particularly helpful” says Ed referring to student evaluations of teachers. ” And even if that’s followed by an actual interesting idea, I might dismiss it a little bit because I see the context.”

So how can students and teachers – and anybody, really – effectively convey ideas for improvements?

Ed has some ideas:

  • Keep it about the question, paper, assignment, or class at hand. Don’t elevate the criticism into something of broader scope.
  • Keep the situation focused on thoughtful – rather than purely emotion – inputs and responses.
  • Focus on what can be learned from the situation.

Listen to the full episode for more thoughts about both giving and receiving constructive corrections and to hear the solution to the puzzler about the digits of our left hand. Still trying to multiply the number of left hand digits of everyone on the planet? Turns out there is a quick and easy way to figure it out.

This episode was recorded on Aug. 9, 2018.