Episode Eight: Technology and the Future of Higher Education

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What is a MOOC?  How is digital technology transforming education?  And, perhaps most important to me as a college professor, WILL I BE REPLACED BY A ROBOT?

In this week’s episode, I sit down with Luke Waltzer and Mikhail Gershovich, both of whom I work with at the Bernard L. Schwartz Communication Institute at Baruch College.  Luke and Mikhail are deeply knowledgable and passionate about pedagogy, communication, and technology, and share their ideas about how these elements can be preserved and amplified during an era of unprecedented austerity.

THE BAD NEWS:  This recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities contains stunning statistics on the defunding of higher education.

THE GOOD NEWS:  Blogs@Baruch is just one example of how digital technology can be employed in a way that empowers students rather than viewing them as passive receivers of information.

For related links and opinions, follow me on Twitter, @DavidLParsons.

Episode Seven: Apocalyptic Fiction

Above:  We might be talking about the end of the world as we know it, but Claudia feels fine.

We might be talking about the end of the world as we know it, but Claudia feels fine.

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Why do we like to dream about the end of the world? Claudia Moreno Pisano joins me to talk about the function of apocalyptic fiction in culture–both as a contemporary trend and as a more ancient, universal human phenomenon. Our conversation attempts to understand the implications of living in a society that relentlessly produces images of its own demise.

Click here to read Simon Pegg’s brilliant Guardian editorial on zombies.

Below is a list, in no particular order, of wikipedia links to some of the books, movies, and cultural figures that came up in this episode:

  Melancholia, Stephen King’s The Stand, Octavia Butler’s Parable of the SowerThe Twilight Zone, Cormac McCarthy’s The RoadChildren of MenI Am LegendDeep ImpactArmageddonMad MaxWaterworld, Independence Day, The Walking Dead, Night of the Living DeadGeorge RomeroSlavoj ZizekMargaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Joseph Campbell, William Carlos WilliamsThe Avengers Transformers, Cloverfield, Planet of the ApesSigmund Freud, Carl JungErnest Becker’s Denial of DeathPan’s Labrynth, The Shining, Allen Ginsberg, Bob DylanAvatar, Terminator 2Rebel Without a Cause.

Episode Six: Climate Change, Part Two

cassandra greek mythology

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Things get a bit weirder as Justin Rogers-Cooper and I try to uncover the psycho-spiritual origins of the human impulse to destroy the planet.  From 19th century railroad corporations to fracking and the Keystone Pipeline, we attempt to understand how and why elite institutions evolved into such frighteningly efficient instruments of mass ecological destruction.

 

Episode Five: Climate Change Part One

Justin David StudioAbove:  Justin Rogers-Cooper and David Parsons convincingly pretend to read.

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On Episode Five of Topical Fever, Justin Rogers-Cooper joins me to inaugurate what will become a series of discussions on the topic of climate change. In Part One of our conversation, Justin and I attempt to understand the intransigence of the political system in the face of such grave dangers to the survival of the planet and the civilizations that currently occupy it. If we are indeed “the ones we have been waiting for,” then what can we do to meet that responsibility?

Episode Four: Iran

cerco_iran_big

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On Episode Four of Topical Fever, I talk to teacher and activist Geoff Johnson about the relationship between Iran and the United States. We talk about Geoff’s work with the activist organization Havaar, hear his thoughts on the film Argo, and discuss the long and troubled history that exists between these two nations.

 

Episode Three: Childbirth

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On Episode Three of Topical Fever, Claudia Moreno Pisano and I discuss the politics of childbirth in 21st century America.  From the medicalization of childbirth and the baffling prevalence of Caesarean births to the home birth movement and other alternative practices, our conversation investigates the intersection of bad politics and bad medicine.

 

Episode Two: The NDAA

Freedom-Guantanamo-Bay

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On Episode Two of Topical Fever, Justin Rogers-Cooper and I expand our drone conversation, connecting it to the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and exploring the implications of the Obama administration’s dramatic effort to expand executive power.

Episode One: Drones

Drone Shadow

Right-click here to download an MP3 file of this episode.

On Episode One of Topical Fever, Justin Rogers-Cooper joins me to talk about drones: what they are, who they are connected to, and why we should be concerned. From pizza delivery to the coming robot apocalypse, Justin and I try to imagine the myriad implications of this startling new technology.

The New York Times piece referenced in the episode can be found here.

 

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