On Topic with President Jim Johnsen
“On Topic” is a series of conversations with experts and authors on important issues that face Alaska. It is produced in collaboration with the University of Alaska Press and hosted by UA President Jim Johnsen.
Linda Schandelmeier is a lifelong Alaska, teacher, gardener and poet. Her collections of poems, Coming Out of Nowhere and Listening Hard Among the Birches have been awarded numerous prizes and distinctions.
“The fiction writer Anthony Doerr said the reason people should read fiction is because it builds empathy. I hadn’t really thought of it that way, but I think that’s one of the things that creative writing of all types does and why it’s so important at this time in the United States, where we have so much division, because if you try to convince someone using facts, how far do you get?”
Professor of English
Paula Mathieu is an English professor in the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences at Boston College, Director of the First-Year Writing Program, and Founder of the Writing Fellows Program.
“When we see people as part of our community, we’re going to make more compassionate
and better choices about what needs to happen or how resources should be allocated.
And, I think we see each other more through stories than just facts and data.”
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Chief Scientist at International Arctic Research Center
“I think if we start with our home base here in Alaska, use that as a sort of springboard, I think we can start chipping away at what needs to be done in creating a more informed society that can make more rational and more prudent decisions that will certainly benefit future generations.”
Dean of Berkeley Law School
Erwin Chemerinsky is the Dean of the University of California, Berkeley Law School and is a renowned lawyer and scholar, specializing in Constitutional Law.
“I think universities can model civil discourse, universities can provide a basis for exposing students to a variety of different ideas that I want on my campus and at my law school – to have a series of debates on controversial issues so long as the speakers can disagree without being disagreeable. They can model how people can handle controversial issues.”
Chief Education Evangelist at Google
Jaime Casap is Chief Education Evangelist at Google. He collaborates with school systems, educational organizations, and leaders focused on building innovation and iteration into education policies and practices.
“It’s this narrative of the world is ending because robots and automation are coming
to take your job and I think it’s an opportunity to eliminate process work, eliminate
work that doesn’t seem necessary, to focus on other types of work that align more
to what motivates human beings, and I think that’s exciting.”
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ABOUT THE HOST: James R. Johnsen, Ed.D.
Dr. Johnsen was appointed to serve as the 14th president of the University of Alaska on July 28, 2015. His experience includes executive leadership positions in the private sector with Alaska Communications and with Doyon, Limited, and in higher education between 1996-2008 in several executive roles including vice president of administration and chief of staff. As president, Dr. Johnsen is a commissioner on the Denali Commission and the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education, a member of the Alaska Aerospace Corporation Board, a director on the UA Foundation Board, and a member of the Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council. His education includes a B.A. in politics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, master’s in political science from the University of Chicago, and doctorate in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania.