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Dr. Nick Marx Believes the World Is a Classroom

Dr. Marx in his office, located in the Behavioral Science Building. Photo credit: Jenna Van Lone

Colorado State University communications studies professor Dr. Nick Marx sees the world as a classroom, and life as the best teacher of all. His job is a platform for him and students to get a little bit closer to “answering the hard questions we’ve been asking ourselves for a really long time.”

This curious nature arose from Marx’s time studying communication arts with a concentration in radio, television and film at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. After completing his undergrad in Madison, Marx completed the master’s program at the University of Texas in Austin and then went back to Madison for his Ph.D.

“I knew I wanted to go to a big public university, like CSU,” Dr. Marx said, explaining why he chose to study at the University of Wisconsin. “The idea of being in a big, new environment with lots of different people, from lots of different places, was really exciting to me.”

Marx’s experience at college was what really set Marx on the path of being a lifelong student. He cites his four years of being an undergrad as the most influential time in his life. Marx recalls school, and all the new ideas he was exposed, to as helping him grow as a person.

It is from these experiences that Marx advises others to approach any situation like a student, to learn and absorb.

“In any new situation I’m in, I try to shut my mouth, listen and observe,” Marx said. “I find that’s the best way to learn things, make friends, feel good about the world”.

In addition to being more aware and empathetic, Marx said doing something completely unselfish can also make you feel better about yourself and the world. Incorporating unselfish acts, even those as simple as setting aside time to call home once a week, can make a huge difference.

As a media professor, Dr. Marx knows how media can also make a huge difference, positively or negatively, in someone’s life.

Questions regarding how media participates in social inequalities, but also provides a sense of common good, are what Dr. Marx focuses on in many of his lectures. He encourages students to give them some thought as well, and keep it in mind when consuming media.

“If it moves you, do something about it,” Marx said, encouraging students to not be passive when interacting with any form of media. “Whatever you are into at a given moment, don’t think engagement is over. Research it, talk about it.”

Much of Marx’s own personal studies and teachings also center around how media facilitates a sense of common good: “How does media make us closer to our fellow man, smarter and happier?”

To Marx, happiness is something you will know. He feels that success is an innate, inexpressible, sense of happiness.

“You’ll know it if you’re doing it, and if not, change course,” is Marx’s advice on success to students.

Marx reasons that many people lose their creative impulse because they are too busy settling into a job and sticking to a life routine with little time or ambition to reframe their worldview.

However, Marx believes it is easier than ever to be curious and to never stop learning things. As a college student, Marx said that there is no other time in life with as many opportunities and freedoms. “You’ll never be as free in your life as you are now.”