Weekend reads: What students teach us, a new global fiction prize, and chow mein sandwiches

Kristin Tyndall's read

Educators shared the lessons from students they're most grateful for in EdSurge's holiday podcast last week. I was surprised to find that many of the lessons resonated with me as a manger and editor—including that it's OK to make mistakes and to be your nerdy self. When you're in a position of authority, like a manager or an educator, you can feel pressure to look or act a certain way in an effort to maintain that authority. But this educator's story is a helpful reminder that if you're not being authentic, you're missing out on opportunities to engage and motivate your students or team members. 

Seren Snow's reads

The onslaught of devastating hurricanes in recent months has reignited a conversation about what role higher education should play in preparing the next generation to deal with environmental challenges. Some institutions have already been leading the way. Dickinson College, for example, has made sustainability coursework a requirement across all majors. Even before it was a requirement, 94% of graduating Dickinson students took sustainability courses, according to Lindsey Lyons, assistant director of the Center for Sustainability Education at the college. However, some higher education leaders are concerned that not enough minority students are interested or involved in environmental science.

A new prize will award $35,000 to the author of a work of fiction. The creator of the prize, the Aspen Institute, will select from among novels, short stories, and other formats from all over the world—both in English and in translation. The winner of the Aspen Words Literary Prize will be an author that has used their work to shine light on a "vital contemporary issue and demonstrates the transformative power of literature on thought and culture." Among the first round of selections are: Harmless Like You, by Rowan Buchanan; The Locals, by Jonathan Dee; and Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn Ward.

Kathleen Escarcha's reads

WBUR's new podcast, "You're the Expert," finds the funny in complex and obscure topics like astronomy and human evolution. A recent episode pairs Suffolk University's psychology department chair and resident nightmare expert, Gary Fireman, with a panel of stand-up comedians. The show aims make complex ideas more accessible to entertain and educate listeners, says the podcast's creator, Chris Duffy. At turns hilarious and informative, Fireman’s episode will teach you what causes disturbed dreaming and the best cheese to eat before bed.

Have you ever had a Chow Mein Sandwich? The meal is a classic "East meets West" product of the 1920's, says Imogene Lim, an anthropology professor at Vancouver Island University. The Conversation invited food historians to explain how some of America’s most ubiquitous—and unique—sandwiches came to be. From the classic PB&J to the tuna salad sandwich, historians explore how these meals capture moments in U.S. history that continue to have a cultural impact today.


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The two most effective study strategies—and why students probably don't know them

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