Interviews from a Different Perspective

At About Campus, we strive to bring content to readers that change the ways in which we think about higher education in a contemporary setting. These articles often live at the intersection of complex problems involving educational policy, professional practice, and how those parts work together. We often find interviews with progressive thought leaders, both in and out of higher education, contrast our functional knowledge of educational practice as faculty and administrators on college campuses with pressing themes found in our society. We hope these interviews stretch your brain to think about supporting student learning in expansive and innovative ways.

Below you’ll find a selection of interviews conducted by our Executive Editor, Frank Shushok, Jr. that challenge the status quo of higher education as we know it. But these are just a starting place– if you have questions, concerns, or want help starting a dialogue on your campus, email us at aboutcampus@vt.edu and we’ll work with you towards this goal.

On Begin’s Krista Tippett on Finding Wisdom in a Time of Flux and Uncertainty

Frank Shushok, Jr., and Krista Tippett

Krista Tippett is the host and creator of the radio show and podcast On Being, an interview series dedicated to exploring the spiritual aspects of our modern world—“the bigger questions of life” as Frank Shushok says. In this wide-ranging interview on wisdom, hope, and values, Tippett talks about how to live wisely and the varying wisdoms of different ages, which leads to the importance of cross-generational friendships in order to benefit from the energy and impatience of youth and the perspective of age. She explains the importance of listening, especially to the voices that don’t tend to get “air time” in our crisis-oriented media. The interview ends with the renewed power of hope and the need for a long-term focus on change.

 

Executive Editor, Frank Shushok, Jr., sits down with Peter Felten and Charles C. Schroeder to Discover What Matters Most for a Meaningful Undergraduate Experience

Charles Schroeder, Peter Felten, & Frank Shushok, Jr. 

Peter Felten and Charles C. Schroeder argue that we need a broadly oriented idea of the “quality undergraduate experience” that crosses organizational boundaries and focuses on the entire student experience. What is important is what students do, how they spend their time, what they are engaged in.

David Brooks Talks Character Development and Student Formation in an Interview with Frank Shushok, Jr.

David Brooks & Frank Shushok, Jr.

In this conversation with Frank Shushok, Jr., David Brooks talks about his increasing focus on emotion and spirituality. He criticizes the current achievement culture that focuses solely on academic success at the expense of the personal, moral, and social aspects of our students. Of particular inter-est is his description of his ideal university. It would be based on the “great books” and introduce students to the primary value systems of our history. Although this type of education may not be effective job preparation, Brooks claims it is more important to be a good person than get a job. He recommends that his students take risks and pursue friendships in order to create satisfying lives.

Parker J. Palmer Reflects on a Lifetime of Learning with Executive Editor Frank Shushok, Jr.

Parker Palmer & Frank Shushok, Jr.

In The Courage to Teach, Parker J. Palmer encourages educators to show up as who we really are. He is an apt role model for doing so in this inspiring interview. In the process of reviewing his extensive career, Palmer discusses his experiences with clinical depression—the darkness and the gifts that emerged from that darkness. He suggests we redefine what it means to be effective in judging ourselves on our faithfulness to using our gifts to serve the world’s needs. And in order to support our students in doing the same, he recommends including the human element in our classes, especially when it seems most distant. Palmer describes his own path as something he “couldn’t not do,” and suggests that we all find and encourage our students to find what they “can’t not do.”

Peter Block Talks Community, the Consumer Culture, and the Promise of Learning

Peter Block & Frank Shushok, Jr.

Peter Block has devoted his career to developing, nurturing, and sustaining community. He identifies himself as someone who translates ideas from many different areas and makes them accessible to people. One of the points Block makes in this interview with Frank Shushok, Jr. is that it is more effective to focus on what people are good at, what they love to do, than their deficiencies. With regard to higher education, he encourages us to develop genuine community– genuine interdependence to construct something with others– learning, in the case of the classroom.

Arizona State University’s President Michael Crow Shares Bold Ideas

Michael Crow & Frank Shushok, Jr.

In this discussion of his new book Designing the New American University (co-written with historian William B. Dabars), Michael M. Crow explains why we need a fifth wave of university design. It is clear that the current research model is failing to meet our current needs in terms of access and affordability.

Brene Brown Encourages Educators to Normalize the Discomfort of Learning and Reframe Failure as Learning

Brene Brown and Frank Shushok, Jr.

Instead of getting caught up in the blame game that these stories usu-ally represent, Brown cautions us to persevere to the next step, which is to hold our emotions in check and consider what we really know about the situation: this is the story that tells the truth.

A Candid Conversation about Schools, Culture, and the Widening Opportunity Gap in America with Professor Robert D. Putnam

Robert Putnam and Frank Shushok, Jr.

Robert Putnam, Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University, reports on the ever-widening opportunity gap between rich kids and poor kids in terms of educational success. Though higher education has not caused this gap, Putnam argues that there is much we can do to alleviate it, starting with attracting and recruiting first-generation college students and continuing with helping them develop the “institutional savvy” that is lacking in their homes and families so they can complete a degree and reap the benefit of social mobility that is the promise of higher education.

An Interview with Charles C. Schroeder

Charles C. Schroeder and Frank Shushok Jr.

Using the 20th anniversary of About Campus as an opportunity to look back and see where we’ve come from as well as look ahead and consider where we want to go next, the current executive editor, Frank Shushok, interviews one of the first executive editors, Charles Schroeder.

Interview with ACPA – College Student Educators International Executive Director Cindi Love

Cindi Love and Frank Shushok, Jr.

Cindi Love shares her colorful work history—from working with African American students in Louisiana during desegregation to creating an INC 500 company—and her overriding commitment to human dignity throughout.

A Conversation with Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza Rice and Frank Shushok, Jr.

From university administration to the White House, Condoleezza Rice has a unique perspective on the pressures of globalization on higher education. Before sharing some of the pedagogical strategies she uses to prepare her students for the challenges and ambiguity of our shrinking world, she notes some of the current successes of American colleges and universities on the internationalization front; namely, attracting and serving international students as well as providing study abroad opportunities for American students. But there is still room for improvement. She decries the isolation of the humanities and recommends STEM majors make more time for them, especially writing. Finally, she calls on colleges and universities to continue to provide opportunities for all types of students to reach their full potential.