Higher Ed In their lively and entertaining weekly discussion of issues related to higher education, KUT's Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger explore the topics of higher education, lifelong learning, and exercising the brain. Ed and Jennifer practice what they preach, too, by introducing math puzzlers and brain teasers to keep listeners on their toes.
Higher Ed
KUT

Higher Ed

From KUT 90.5

In their lively and entertaining weekly discussion of issues related to higher education, KUT's Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger explore the topics of higher education, lifelong learning, and exercising the brain. Ed and Jennifer practice what they preach, too, by introducing math puzzlers and brain teasers to keep listeners on their toes.

Most Recent Episodes

Higher Ed: Enjoying And Embracing Conflict (And Other Leadership Lessons Learned)

A "Higher Ed" podcast listener recently wrote in with an intriguing question for Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger: as a university president, does Ed "see himself as more of a leader or manager? How does he differentiate the two concepts and does he place more emphasis on one area or another?" In this episode, KUT's Jennifer Stayton talks with Ed about what it means to lead and manage on and off campus. Ed has clear points of differentiation between how he sees the duties of a leader and those of a manager. A leader: "It's about thinking about the mission, thinking about what the direction of the instution or the project – whatever it is – is, and making sure that within a univese of distraction that we do our best not to be distracted by the noise and the bells and the ringing and the lights trying to take away that which we're supposed to be doing. In this proposition [education], it's about changing people's lives and making them better versions of themselves." A manager: "Being a manager is the art ... of making sure an organization is running smoothly, fairly, safely, efficiently and within all the budgetary constraints that come along with any organization." Given those definitions, Ed believes the role of a university president encompasses both leader and manager. As per the listener's question, which one does Ed tend toward? Ed says he does the work he does "for the innovation and education that we can accomplish." So, more on the "leader" side, for sure, though Ed does concede a lot of "imagination and idea energy" is required to manage successfully. Ed says he often turned to the late political scientist and leadership studies innovator James MacGregor Burns for insight about leading successfully. Burns' primary pieces of advice: 1). Focus on mission and goals 2). Choose good colleagues and associates 3). Expect, enjoy and embrace conflict Ed says he understands the first two but still struggles with confronting confict rather than avoiding it. Listen to the full episode for more on leading and managing in and out of the classroom. The solution to last week's "guest puzzler" submission about digits will also be revealed. This episode was recorded on April 2, 2019.

Higher Ed: Enjoying And Embracing Conflict (And Other Leadership Lessons Learned)

Higher Ed: Ethics, Authenticity and Education – Takeaways From The College Admissions Scandal

Allegations of cheating and bribery in connection with college admissions have brought renewed scrutiny to just how that process works. In this episode of the KUT podcast "Higher Ed," KUT's Jennifer Stayton talks with Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger to get his response to the story and his take on maintaining integrity in the process. Ed says the accusations made in connection with alleged cheating at some universities in the United States raise several concerns for him. "First, there's just an ethical question," says Ed, "about boy, what are we teaching young people today about doing the right thing and living good lives?" Ed says secondly, the situation sends a disturbing message about using shortcuts to get ahead. "There's an issue about the value of hard work," Ed adds, "and setting goals and realizing those goals when that's possible. And when it's not possible, to learn from that and realize other goals." Ed also has a very visceral response to the allegations from the point of view of an educator. "My emotional reaction is one of offense," says Ed. "It's because, how do these families who are accused of these things, of this behavior – how do they define what formal education means? By their alleged actions, they're defining formal education as a piece of paper." Ed strongly believes what formal education delivers to students does not depend on the "name" of the school. "Education should be an individualized experience," Ed says. "Even when you look at some of these generic rankings, they have certain metrics but they're not measuring for an individual human being. And that's why there are so many schools out there and that's why there are so many people at those variety of schools. It's important to pick the best fit." Listen to the full episode for more on how students can discern that best fit. Also, the puzzler is back after an extended Spring Break. Who is our guest puzzle provider for the next few episodes? Listen on to find out! This episode was recorded on April 2, 2019.

Higher Ed: Ethics, Authenticity and Education – Takeaways From The College Admissions Scandal

Higher Ed: Learning To Discern Your True Calling

Many people may regard "vocation" as a job, employment, or occupation. But the word's Latin root (vocare meaning "to call") speaks to a deeper definition related to a passion or true calling. In this episode of the KUT podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton explore the concept of a "calling" in life, and how we can learn to be attuned to that message within us. When Jennifer was an undergraduate student in college, she was certain she was going to become a psychologist. When Ed was an undergraduate student, he was certain he was going to become a lawyer. Well, neither one of them followed the path they thought they were going to pursue. What happened along the way? Did something go wrong for both of them? Quite the contrary, Ed would argue. He says one of the ways to discern a true "calling" in life is to remain open to opportunities when they present themselves. "We can't be so intellectually stubborn as to think that the thought we had when we were eight years old is also going to be the exact same thought we're going to have when we're forty-five. That's just not right," says Ed. "The point of a high-impact educational experience that's all about intellectual and personal growth is about challenging those basic assumptions." If this exercise of discernment feels like a struggle, Ed is quick to point out there is not necessarily only one path for each of us waiting to be discovered. "You might pick the right one that generates enormous happiness. You might pick another one that generates a lot of happiness, and maybe there's another thing you could have done that would have made you more happy or more satisfied," Ed says. "You have to come to peace with all of that and realize there are there multiple pathways." At the heart of determining one's true calling? "Optimize your own personal satisfaction," Ed believes. That may sounds good in theory, but what about the reality of earning a living and paying bills? Listen to the full episode for further discussion on the tension between pursuing a passion and the realities of life. No puzzler this week! It is still on an extended Spring Break but will return next week. This episode was recorded on Feb. 23, 2019.

Higher Ed: Trust And Communication Can Help "Helicopter" Parents Land Safely

The idea of "helicopter" parenting may not have a formal definition. But we all have a pretty good sense of it when we encounter it – those parents who seem to control and hover too closely over many aspects of their children's lives, often to the detriment (and sometimes embarrassment) of those children. In this episode of the KUT podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton take a discussion about helicopter parenting to a live audience of – yes – parents and students at Southwestern. First of all, Ed believes a couple of things about "helicopter" parenting: it has always been around, perhaps exacerbated in more recent times by the abundance and reach of personal technology. And, it can come from a place of wanting what is best for children. But that concept of what is best for children, and how to achieve it, can be a sticking point. "I think the question is: 'what's the definition of what's best?'," says Ed. "And if you take away all the independence and agency, are you really helping, or in some sense are you manufacturing a problem for the future?" So how can parents back off from such close monitoring but still help their children learn and develop skills to maneuver through life? Ed believes setting an environment of trust and open communication will go a long way. So will helping children establish realistic expectations about life before they head out on their own. "Life is really a roller coaster, but certainly one's undergraduate formal career is honestly a roller coaster of that sort," says Ed. "You get to these peaks which are really exciting and you're really happy and you want to stay there forever.... And then all of a sudden, you go way down and something awful happens... Instead of thinking about that as a down moment, I think we need to realize that life.... is a roller coaster. So those peaks and valleys are going to happen. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when.... It's the downturns where the real learning can happen." Listen to the full episode to hear more of the discussion with some college parents about easing off of helicopter parenting. And hear some answers to a provocative question for the future: what might happen when a generation of children with hovering parents become parents themselves? No puzzler this week. It took off early for Spring Break but will be back in a few weeks! This episode was recorded on Feb. 23, 2019.

Higher Ed: Trust And Communication Can Help "Helicopter" Parents Land Safely

Higher Ed: The Issues Brought Up By Safe Spaces, Trigger Warnings And Controversial Campus Speakers

Safe spaces. Trigger warnings. Disinvited speakers. These campus issues got the attention of a "Higher Ed" podcast listener who wrote in asking about what he has observed to be the proliferation of them. In this episode of KUT's podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton address a listener's question about campus controversies. A "Higher Ed" listener wrote in asking for Ed's take on what the listener described as "the proliferation of so-called trigger warnings, safe spaces, and demonstrations that aim to force administrators to cancel an invitation to a speaker because their ideas are controversial." First of all, a few definitions. "Trigger warning" is definied by Merriam-Webster as "a statement cautioning that content (as in a text, video, or class) may be disturbing or upsetting." "Safe space" is definied by Merriam-Webster as "a place (as on a college campus) intended to be free of bias, conflict, criticism, or potentially threatening actions, ideas, or conversations." In answering the listener, Ed acknowledges that these are complicated issues and a generic response does not suffice to cover all of them. But he does explain some factors that can come into play surrounding these and other occurances such as whether a certain speaker is invited to campus or not: *Public vs. private institutions: Public institutions may have to adhere to certain rules about allowing anyone to speak on campus. Private institutions may have more freedom to exercise discretion about inviting or disinviting speakers. * Class vs. event: Compelling a student to experience a certain speaker in a required classroom setting differs from a campus event which students, faculty, staff and others can choose to attend or not. * Taking sides: Ed says he believes we are living in an "age of extremism" when people are less likely to engage thoughtfully with those who have differing views. He believes we are quick to label others without at least trying to understand their thoughts. (Ed notes he is not referring to hate speech and other obviously extreme, offensive examples). Listen to the full episode to hear more of the discussion. What happens when a speaker is invited to a campus and then distressing news emerges about that speaker on social media? Listen on for thoughts on that as well as the solution to the latest puzzler. The best way to get the solution? Slow down and listen very carefully – which Ed suggests might serve us well in many arenas outside the puzzler! This episode was recorded on Jan. 25, 2019.

Higher Ed: The Issues Brought Up By Safe Spaces, Trigger Warnings And Controversial Campus Speakers

Higher Ed: Learning To Map "Baby" Steps To Reach Bigger Goals

For many people, goal-setting is an annual ritual perhaps fueled by the New Year and a commitment to make personal or professional improvements. But creating truly meaningful and achievable goals is a more complicated undertaking than simply tossing together a life "to-do" list. In this episode of KUT's podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton answer a listener's question about learning to craft and meet relevant goals. A Higher Ed listener wrote in as she was struggling to fill out her new planner for 2019. "I am very good at completing tasks that are given to me," she wrote. "But here I am thinking about setting goals for myself and I am unsure of what that means , or what are the steps to take. I actually feel kind of dumb for asking this." Not at all! Setting and reaching goals is something that can be learned; it may not necessarily be an intuitive process. Ed says a goal is really the envisioning of a "future potential place" where someone wants to be. That may be easy to imagine, but it not necessarily as easy to think about how to get there. Where to start? Ed says first, to think big, you might actually want to think small. "To move yourself, you have to create the intermediate steps that are required... that are not that taxing and dramatic, like a resolution," says Ed. "But rather, little things that I can do and then have that become the standard and the norm and then incrementally change." Other tips for leaning to set and actually achieve goals: * Think of goals as moving toward something rather than away from something. "I want to feel better physically" is a different framework than "I need to lose weight and exercise more." * Understand that goals change over time. As one goal is reached, the next goals on the list may need to be altered. Be open to flexible goals. * Keep a meta-goal in mind as you move through the smaller steps to reach a goal. Listen to the full episode to hear more about goals and to get the latest puzzler. It may sound easy at first, but be ready for a twist along the way! This episode was recorded on Jan. 25, 2019.

Higher Ed: Have We Entered A Geological "Age Of Humans?"

Earth's millions of years of existence are divided into different time periods that chronicle its geological development. You may remember studying those in school (Cenozoic era, anyone?). But what is impacting earth right now? In this episode of KUT's podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton discuss the call for an "Age of Humans" designation to acknowledge the impact of people – and how to study that. Southwestern University is getting ready to host its biannual Brown Symposium later in February. The topic this time around is "The Anthropocene." Huh? The idea is to discuss the profound changes the Earth is undergoing right now at, for the first time say some scientists and historians, the hands of humans. Because of that, there is a push to call our current times the "Age of Humans" (a.k.a the Anthropocene). Ed says the main idea of the symposium is to look at the impacts humans are having on the planet and to take an interdisciplinary approach to exploring questions and looking at solutions. Some of the disciplines represented in the symposium include Environmental Studies, Religion and Art. Does the very word "symposium" bring about a wave of yawns? Ed encourages people to resist that antiquated thought about academic gatherings. He says they are a time to congregate, share ideas and learn about points of view different from our own. Listen to the entire episode for more on an interdisciplinary approach to studying the "Age of Humans" and the impacts on learning when people gather to share thoughts and ideas outside the classroom. This episode was recorded on Jan. 25, 2019.

Higher Ed: "Teacher's Pet." "Know-It-All." "Brown-Noser." How Labels Impact Learning

"Teacher's pet." "Know-it-all." "Brown-noser." These are just some of the terms students lob at each other in (and out) of school – especially at students who demonstrate strong mastery of a subject or are enthusiastic in class. In this episode of KUT's podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton explore how and why those labels are used and why they might not pack the punch they used to. One of the assumptions underlying the use of labels such as those is that it is not cool to be smart or active in class discussion. Ed remembers that was certainly the case when he was in school. "It was definitely.... 'you're teacher's pet, you're a brown-noser,'" says Ed. "And therefore you're now ostracized because you're not cool." Ed says labels – either positive or negative – cannot help but impact students' learning and experiences in the classroom. "If someone is looked at as 'wow – that person is so cool, that person knows everything' then I think it actually amplifies that and encourages them to go on," says Ed. "And when you have a student who is called 'oh, that person is dumb and doesn't know any of the answers' or that person is just trying to impress the teacher – and is a 'teacher's pet' – then it actually I think stifles that creativity and that potential intellectual growth, which is really, really sad." Those labels may be losing some of their impact, though, as Ed sees a trend toward more appreciation of participation and engagement in the classroom. "At all grade levels now, knowing the answer; raising your hand; engaging with the teacher or professor or instructor; is actually kind of a cool thing," says Ed. "I think this is one of the few directions where I think we have actually evolved and made forward progress in how we view.... being engaged and trying and being open to learning." Listen to the full episode to hear more about the evolution of labels and attitudes about learning and classroom engagement. There is also a new puzzler that will require your active participation to solve. This episode was recorded on Jan. 25, 2019.

Higher Ed: "Teacher's Pet." "Know-It-All." "Brown-Noser." How Labels Impact Learning

Higher Ed: Couldn't We All Use A Little Help? The Impact Of Effective Mentoring

What comes to mind when you hear the word "mentor?" Perhaps a bespectacled older teacher or other professional offering sage advice to a younger student? In this episode of KUT's podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton discuss what makes a good mentor (and it doesn't necessarily have to do with age or specific experience). Ed wants to make a few things clear about mentors and mentoring up front. First of all, mentors and role models are not the same thing. "When I think of a role model, that person can be far away, could be someone who I don't even know but I aspire to be, or I see and see elements of that I want to replicate, " says Ed. "A mentor is much closer. There is a person who not only do I know, but the person has taken the time to know me and then to offer wisdom, counsel, advice, guidance and so forth." Secondly, mentors of any age – not just more seasoned teachers and other professionals – have something to offer. "I don't think that a mentor necessarily has to be someone who is older than you," Ed believes. "It's the perspective they bring and the questions they ask and the inspiration they offer." Ed believes a strong mentor-mentee relationship entails much more than the exchange of information and advice. "It's a safe relationship where no one's going to be judgmental," says Ed. "But in fact, listen – ideally open mindedly – and then ask questions. Then start to say 'Okay, let me probe you. If you really want to do that, what about this? Why are you thinking that way?' Then all of a sudden, it provokes thought, which is of course what all things should do." Listen to the full episode to hear about some of Ed's experiences being a mentor and having a mentor. He firmly believes people can benefit from a mentor's guidance at any age or stage of school and work. It is also time to gear up for the solution to the most recent puzzler. This episode was recorded on Dec. 4, 2018.

Higher Ed: Couldn't We All Use A Little Help? The Impact Of Effective Mentoring

Higher Ed: Curiosity Did Not Kill The Cat

What does "curiosity" mean, exactly? Most definitions center around the desire to know something. So is curiosity just the act of asking lots of questions, or is it something deeper? In this episode of KUT's podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton discuss curiosity, wonderment, and if any question is ever a silly one. What do we know already (or think we know) about curiosity? It "killed the cat," right – implying that too much inquisitiveness about something is dangerous. Curious George stories are a more playful take on learning and exploration. Ed defines curiosity as the "mindful act of thinking beyond whatever it is that is in front of a person.... What comes next? What led to this? Where do I go from here? It really comes down to the art of creating questions." But Ed puts a slight twist on that definition. He does not actually believe those questions ever have to be asked out loud. "Curiosity is an internal thing," Ed believes. "I talk about the art of creating questions. You don't have to ask them to be curious. But just to be thinking about 'why is the person doing it that way? Why does that look the way it looks? Why did the person say that and not something else? What did the person not say?' Just having those thoughts and those questions in your own head generate the internal curiosity." Ed's definition may make it sound as if we are either born with that internal instinct to create questions or we are not. Are we stuck with the level of curiosity we have at day one or can curiosity be taught? Ed says curiosity can absolutely be taught and amplified by encouraging that internal development of questions. Listen to the full episode to hear how Ed believes curiosity can be taught and nurtured (he has specific examples from his classroom). It is also time to get into gear for a new puzzler! This episode was recorded on Dec. 4, 2018.

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