Brown Symposium

Higher Ed: Have We Entered A Geological “Age Of Humans?”

Earth’s millions of years of existence are divided into different time periods that chronicle its geological development. You may remember studying those in school (Cenozoic era, anyone?). But what is impacting earth right now? In this episode of KUT’s podcast “Higher Ed,” Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT’s Jennifer Stayton discuss the call for an “Age of Humans” designation to acknowledge the impact of people – and how to study that.

Southwestern University is getting ready to host its biannual Brown Symposium later in February. The topic this time around is “The Anthropocene.”


The idea is to discuss the profound changes the Earth is undergoing right now at, for the first time say some scientists and historians, the hands of humans. Because of that, there is a push to call our current times the “Age of Humans” (a.k.a the Anthropocene).

Ed says the main idea of the symposium is to look at the impacts humans are having on the planet and to take anĀ  interdisciplinary approach to exploring questions and looking at solutions. Some of the disciplines represented in the symposium include Environmental Studies, Religion and Art.

Does the very word “symposium” bring about a wave of yawns?

Ed encourages people to resist that antiquated thought about academic gatherings. He says they are a time to congregate, share ideas and learn about points of view different from our own.

Listen to the entire episode for more on an interdisciplinary approach to studying the “Age of Humans” and the impacts on learning when people gather to share thoughts and ideas outside the classroom.

This episode was recorded on Jan. 25, 2019.