About 20 people listened to a professor lecture about the feminist theory behind Dracula over beers in an unconventional classroom Sunday night.
The lecture was part of Profs and Pints, a new event series in the District that brings together professors from different universities and the general public to learn about specialized topics without tests or tuition over drinks at the Dupont Circle bar, Bier Baron Tavern.
Peter Schmidt, who founded the event series in early October, said he was inspired by his former career as a higher education reporter to boost the “dumbed down” environment of a bar and transform it into an atmosphere where people can learn in an accessible, relaxed place for only $10.
Five professors are scheduled to speak at the bar, located at 1523 22nd St. NW, throughout the month. The professors will be covering subjects ranging from fake news in political media to gardening in the fall season so people can continue learning without enrolling in college, Schmidt said.
“It is kind of breaking down the walls between campus and the rest of society,” Schmidt said. “Hopefully it’s going to help contribute to a better education level out in the population in general.”
Professors who are asked to participate in Profs and Pints are compensated for their time and can choose to lecture or hold a workshop about almost any subject, Schmidt said. He added that even more complex topics, like math, can be “fascinating” when professors are speaking to an engaged audience instead of students simply attending to earn credit.
Schmidt said he had the idea for Profs and Pints after seeing problems in higher education working as a reporter for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Schmidt said the main two problems of higher education are that it’s too expensive for students and professors are not properly compensated for their work.
“I dealt with issues that were looming problems in higher education, and as a reporter I had to cover these objectively and not take the role of an advocate,” Schmidt said. “Now that I’ve moved on from The Chronicle, I can actually do something about the issues.”
Although he started the events in the District, Schmidt said he hopes to eventually spread them to other “big cities and college towns” across the country as long as their is interest from people to attend.
Alan Rosenblatt, an adjunct professor of political management, will be speaking Nov. 12 at the event called “Bots, Trolls, and Fake News.” Rosenblatt said he wanted to get involved in Profs and Pints to reach an eager and curious audience through an unexpected venue.
“I like the idea of planting seeds for people for thought and having people embrace it and make it part of their own conversations,” Rosenblatt said. “You give a presentation, answer some questions, and a lot of the people will stick around, keep drinking and keep talking about it.”
Rosenblatt said that at his lecture, he wants to elaborate on the role of bots and trolls in political media and to clarify “the difference between fake news and real news.”
He said this events can help him reach a new audience beyond the college students and professionals he typically works with.
“I think that life-long learning is always an important commitment for all of us to make,” Rosenblatt said. “And this is one of many ways people can do that.”