The bubble has burst! Students have left campus. Some of them are on J-term trips outside the United States or at Holden Village in Washington. The women’s softball team is on a trip to the Dominican Republic.
We sometimes hear people refer to Luther’s campus as a bubble. This is a typical feeling among students at colleges like Luther. But leaving campus on an intentional, purposeful endeavor provides the opportunity for students to connect with the world beyond Luther.
Is the bubble good? Yes, in many ways it can be. It suggests an immersive learning experience is under way and that students are engaged in their campus community. At the same time, there is risk associated with being so deeply focused on your campus experience that you lose sight of what is happening in the local community, the U.S., or the world.
Of course, we burst the bubble even on campus, through events sponsored by the Center for Ethics and Public Engagement, the Performing Arts Council, the Student Activities Council, and more. On a weekly basis there are opportunities for students to experience and learn about the world beyond the Luther campus. They just need to step outside their room and into another room on campus. It’s really that easy!
Another way students can stay connected to the world is by taking advantage of the digital subscription to the New York Times provided by Preus Library and the Student Senate. Students can create an account on the New York Times website using their Luther.edu email address. The mobile app makes accessing the news easy. In addition to the Times, the library subscribes to print newspapers that students can read in the building.
In Decorah, Minnesota Public Radio is available at 88.7 FM, and MPR/NPR is a wonderful way to get outside the bubble (I usually have MPR streaming on my office laptop). Whether it’s Morning Edition or All Things Considered, public radio is a wonderful resource for learning and discovery. Iowa Public Radio does not have an FM signal in Decorah, but 640 AM is the signal to receive it. Of course, MPR and IPR and likely your home state’s public radio have mobile apps that make listening quite easy.
Are you a podcast junkie? I am. Podcasts are a great way to connect to ideas and issues beyond campus. Whether a current news/political events podcasts (e.g., Political Gabfest, Rational Security, FiveThirtyEight Politics) or something more pop culture–focused (e.g., Pop Culture Happy Hour), podcasts can be deeply immersive. My daughter likes to listen to Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard. I just read the info on the most recent episode; he and his guest discuss social anxiety. That is a topic to which many students could connect.
Both inside and outside the bubble there are many opportunities to engage and continuously learn. It doesn’t require a lot of energy but rather some simple planning to build bursting the bubble into a student’s schedule. Ask your student about a lecture or event they recently attended, something they read in the Times, something they heard on NPR, or a recent podcast they listened to and what they learned. That’s a rather simple act as well.