September 14, 2018

Capturing a big, complex idea in 60 seconds is not easy. It may be especially challenging for scholars accustomed to the time and space a classroom or conference stage affords to let an idea unfold.

But it’s exactly this challenge that has excited a new collection of university experts to share their insights for ASU Now’s “Got a Minute?” video series.

“Saying something interesting and relevant in just 60 seconds is incredibly tough,” said Andrew Maynard, a professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, who shared his insights on the topic of fear. “But it forces you to cut through academic long-windedness and think deeply about what you want to say. It’s a discipline that, I discovered to my delight, helped me better understand my own thoughts and ideas.”

In addition to creating a forum for faculty and other university leaders, the series is based on the simple notion that everyone — no matter how busy — always has a spare minute. And maybe, they’ll take that minute to learn something new. 

English Professor George Justice took the challenge to address the matter of mortality.

“’Got a Minute?’ offered much more than the opportunity to condense thoughts I had been developing on mortality over the course of several years,” he said. “The format itself required re-thinking that not only boiled down my thoughts but required me to make every word count.”

Video by Ken Fagan/ASU Now

The new and growing compendium of video topics — what the Melikian Center director Keith Brown calls “a compelling exercise in form” — also includes sport (adidas Distinguished Professor of Global Sport Ken Shropshire), endangered species (conservation biologist Leah Gerber) and violence (Brown). They join a list that ranges from kindness, racism, civility and the sublime, to dogs, geeks, aliens and the internet.

While some of these draw primarily from intellectual pursuits, others are more personal. That includes the minute on mortality, for which Justice explored his experience with life-threatening illness.

“The strict limitations of ‘Got a Minute?’ — like other artistic forms — helped the content breathe. And for a video like mine, that was essential.”

Check out the series — and suggest a topic for a future video.

Steven Beschloss