Aroutis Foster, PhD, an associate professor in the School of Education who sat down for an episode of Drexel University Online's "Drexel's 10,000 Hours" podcast.
The idea of the mild-mannered professor having a secret life has long held a place in cultural imagination. Just look at Henry Jones Jr., the archeology professor better known by his treasure-hunting alter ego, Indiana Jones. And while it’s true that most faculty members aren’t living quite as adventurous a life outside of class as Indy, students may still be surprised to learn just how cool their professors are.
That idea — letting students see their professors in a whole new light — is the basis for “Drexel’s 10,000 Hours,” a new podcast from Drexel University Online. Named after the popular Malcolm Gladwell concept that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to gain expertise, the series aims to give Drexel University faculty an informal, non-academic platform to discuss their work and their lives. The end result is a personal (and often humorous) narrative that connects their research to their identities outside of the classroom, digging into their childhoods, first jobs and hobbies.
The first season, which launched June 25, features six 20-minute episodes, each focusing on a different faculty member: Veronica Carey, PhD, associate clinical professor in the College of Nursing and Health Professionals; Joe Hancock, PhD, a professor in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design; Aroutis Foster, PhD, an associate professor in the School of Education; Charles Cook, PhD, an assistant clinical professor in the School of Engineering; Kristen Betts, EdD, a clinical professor in the School of Education; and Paul Flanagan, JD, an assistant professor in the Thomas R. Kline School of Law.
And while none of them are hunting for ancient treasure in far-off jungles, each has a compelling backstory that’s sure to interest students and non-Drexel affiliated listeners alike. For example, Flanagan was a nationally-ranked tennis player before going to law school; Foster worked as a radio DJ in his native Jamaica; and Carey has done extensive work setting up behavioral health facilities in Pakistan.
The series is hosted by Maurice Baynard, a research scientist, educator and ed-tech entrepreneur who has taught at Drexel in the past. For him, one of the major appeals of working on a project like this is getting to know the quirkier side of his guests.
“The most exciting moments come when someone who is accustomed to answering the question ‘what do you do?' or 'explain your area of research’ gets to make a surprising connection between their private selves, stories that might only be known to family and close friends, and their professional work,” he said. “As much as we are attempting to answer ‘tell us how you got here,’ we're also trying to ask ‘tell us who you really are, what you're passionate about and why is it important to how you see the world?’”
The podcast isn’t just a way to help students feel more connected to the faculty, however. It’s also a chance for Drexel to show off a bit.
“Drexel faculty are known world-wide for their excellence and expertise,” said President of Drexel University Online Susan Aldridge, PhD. “With this podcast, they have a platform to talk about their work in a different way and reach an entirely new audience. We hope this also gives those outside of the Drexel community the opportunity to learn from them and engage with subjects they may not have been exposed to before.”
To listen to the first season of “Drexel’s 10,000 Hours,” visit the10000hours.org.