Smoke break philosophy
Prof shares 'informal education' from campus bench
Published: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 23:09
Kadie McDougald, city desk assistant, sits down with philosophy professor Scott Austin.
THE BATTALION: Tell me a little about yourself.
AUSTIN: I grew up in the far West in Oregon and Colorado. My first philosophy course was freshman year of college and I loved it and it was all I wanted to do from that point on. [My professor] was the most brilliant person I had ever heard speak. I spent all of my time on her course and none of my time on the physics course I was supposed to be taking.
THE BATTALION: I’ve heard you often sit outside the YMCA Building and just talk to students. When did you start doing that and why?
AUSTIN: I would go out to take smoke breaks and just noticed that people would come by and chat and it’s a great way to do informal teaching and advising. If you just happen to be out there when a class lets out, anyone who wants to come over can talk to you. I think many people feel more relaxed about that than they would about coming to my office. People feel less formal on the bench and I ought to be teaching informally as well as formally.
THE BATTALION: Why did you choose to become a philosophy professor?
AUSTIN: At first it was just the intoxication of reading, writing and talking. When I was a grad student, I started teaching because I was assigned to be a TA and I just found it to be intoxicating. I loved talking to groups of people about philosophy. If you love teaching, there’s a kind of excitement that comes from teaching more than anything else. I’ve never tried to analyze it, it’s just there. But it’s never let me down.