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Professors take 'Minute' to share

By Tessa Byrns
On January 19, 2012

Professors from universities across the country, including UNC, are getting the chance to teach a much larger audience than that found in the average classroom through Northeast Public Radio's "The Academic Minute."

"The Academic Minute" is a program that airs on almost 60 radio stations across North America and features a two-minute spotlight highlighting a professor's research or area of interest. Topics so far have ranged from groundbreaking scientific research to more pop culture-derived topics, such as trying to explain the popularity of current TV shows.

Four University of Northern Colorado professors have participated in the program so far.

"Professors who participate in ‘The Academic Minute' are found throughout the United States, from large prestigious universities to small colleges with less than 1,000 students," said Steven Anderson, an earth sciences professor at UNC and director of the Math and Science Teaching Institute at UNC. "The topics cover the full spectrum of things professors at universities do with their time, from scientific research to the arts to business. If a professor studies it, it could be part of this program. I think over 100 different schools have had professors participate in this."

Other professors found that working on the radio show was a great experience.

"This program is supposed to help professors share their expertise and tell people what professors do," said Michael Mills, coordinator of Core and Integrated Learning, co-director of the Life of the Mind Program and a professor in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Mills wanted to record an Academic Minute radio show so he could inform more people about something of interest to him – semiotics.

"I'm a teacher at heart, so (I did it) to inform a larger audience about semiotics, which is the study of signs, for about a minute and 40 seconds."

This program not only helps audiences get a look at the academic world, but it also helps promote the university and the community.

"The university sees this program as a good opportunity to promote their professors' research and the university itself," said David Thomas, assistant professor of management and management instruction. "I worked on my discussion topic with professor Michael Kimball. He's the director of the Honors, Scholars and Leadership program. My discussion topic for the radio show is the role that organizations play in their communities is changing. I'm looking at how landlords who don't invest at all into their homes and how that affects everyone in a community. I'm discussing how some people are improving as an academic providing a place to promote learning, how people need to take social responsibility in how their community looks and how affective it is at helping the people within that community to strive for better things."

Michael Opitz, a professor of elementary education, discussed the link between literacy and fitness in youth during his presentation.

For more information about "The Academic Minute," or to find a local radio station broadcasting the program, visit

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