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Psychology and Humanistic Studies

A call for Apple to make a conflict-free iPhone

01/06/2012

(Parts of this post originally published by The Guardian, December 30, 2011).

Screen shot 2012-01-06 at 11.20.19 AMWhile increased access to mobile technology in an undisputed advantage for many, the manufacturing process of the phones themselves negatively impacts others. Ironically, the very people targeted for increased mobile connectivity through poverty reduction schemes are also those whose lives are in jeopardy from the mining required to make electronic devices. Mobile phones require rare earth metals that are often extracted by children and slaves in conflict zones. The idea of “blood mobiles” is modeled after the well-known campaign against blood diamonds mined in African war zones and used to perpetuate conflict (Kristof, 2010).

Nathan & Sarkar (2010) shed light on the controversy over coltan, a mineral used in mobile phones (as well as computers and other devices). While coltan only makes up a very small percentage of the raw materials used in mobile phones, it is an essential component. 30% of the world’s supply comes from the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where its extraction directly sustains armed violence, child labor and poverty in one of the world’s deadliest conflicts. The coltan industry finances armed rebels and has become a reason for armed conflict between groups vying for control: “An ugly paradox of the 21st century is that some of our elegant symbols of modernity — smartphones, laptops and digital cameras — are built from minerals that seem to be fueling mass slaughter and rape in Congo” (Kristof, 2010, para. 2). As activist Delly Mawazo Sesete - a native of the DRC - explains in a recent article in The Guardian, Apple is "perfectly positioned to be the first company to create a Congo conflict-free phone." Sesete explains:

While conflict began as a war over ethnic tension, land rights and politics, it has increasingly turned to being a war of profit, with various armed groups fighting one another for control of strategic mineral reserves. Near the area where I grew up, there are mines with vast amounts of tungsten, tantalum, tin, and gold – minerals that make most consumer electronics in the world function.

While minerals from the Congo have enriched your life, they have often brought violence, rape and instability to my home country. That's because those armed groups fighting for control of these mineral resources use murder, extortion and mass rape as a deliberate strategy to intimidate and control local populations, which helps them secure control of mines, trading routes and other strategic areas. Living in the Congo, I saw many of these atrocities firsthand. I documented the child slaves who are forced to work in the mines in dangerous conditions. I witnessed the deadly chemicals dumped into the local environment. I saw the use of rape as a weapon. And despite receiving multiple death threats for my work, I've continued to call for peace, development and dignity in Congo's minerals trade.

But the good news is that your favorite electronics don't have to fund mass violence and rape in the Congo, and neither do mine.

That's why I'm asking Apple to make an iPhone made with conflict-free minerals from the Congo by this time next year. Apple has been an industry leader in both supply chain management and making corporate social responsibility a priority. In the past two years, Apple has taken great strides to source minerals responsibly and control their supply chain.

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Alumni Messenger

Call for Submissions for the Upcoming ISSS 2012 Bulletin

01/05/2012
Call for submission of short notes or research reports and other items of interest for the upcoming ISSS 2012 Bulletin to be published in end of January 2012. These submissions will be published in the first section of the Bulletin, highlighting most recent work from the membership of ISSS. Submissions should be no longer than 1500 words (4 pages single spaced). For the bulletin, other items of...

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University

Saybrook Conference Sessions Open To Prospective Students This January

01/04/2012

Join us at an upcoming conference session to engage in an integral part of the Saybrook experience. For 40 years Saybrook University has offered distance education for graduate students. Combining online and residential instruction, our programs foster close contact amongst faculty and learners while offering flexibility. A key component of Saybrook's learning model, residential conference sessions bring faculty and students together, spurring intellectual creativity, collaboration, and mentorship.

Prospective students may attend and observe two sessions at the SFO Westin Hotel in Millbrae, California:

Sunday, January 15, 2012 -- 9:15 am - 12:00 pm PST

Courses and Seminars:
Renewing the Encounter Between the Human Sciences, the Arts, and the Humanities
Introduction to Person-Centered Expressive Arts for Healing and Social Change
Buddhist Pathways to Health
Systems Practice: From Systems Thinking to Systems Being
Generative and Strategic Dialogue: Intro to ORG 7044
Trauma and Transformation: The “Human”

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 -- 9:15 am - 12:00 pm PST

Courses and Seminars:
Trauma and Transformation: Social Dimensions
Intermediate Training and Education in Hypnosis (5620)
Movement, Exercise, and Health
Researching Organizations and their Complexity: Exploring Methods That Support a Systems Approach to Change
City of San Francisco Initiative: A Collaborative Project Opportunity
Creativity and Writing: Beyond the Norm

Attendees will also have the opportunity to meet with faculty and Admissions representatives. To learn more and register, please RSVP HERE!

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Psychology and Humanistic Studies

Saybrook Professor George Kent lectures widely on human rights

01/04/2012

GKheadshotThis past September and October, Prof. Kent delivered lectures in five different cities, based primarily on his recent books Ending Hunger Worldwide, and Regulating Infant Formula. His lecture tour began in Norway with an invitation to speak at the University of Oslo's Centre for Development and Environment, with talks entitled “Deepening Poverty and Ill Health with Infant Formula” and “Ending Hunger Worldwide: Changing Perspectives on Food Insecurity." From Oslo, Dr. Kent traveled to the University of Ghent and Belgian Health Ministry; Corvinus University in Budapest, Hungary; Coventry, UK and finally back in the U.S. at the University of Connecticut (Storrs) delivering talks on similar themes: how to remedy social problems related to food security and nutrition.

UNESCO Chair Award

At the University of Connecticut, Prof. Kent received a plaque recognizing his work. It reads:

“UNESCO Chair Award. Presented to George Kent. In recognition of your practical contributions to women’s empowerment and to the expansion of the frontiers of human rights and to fostering global solidarity. UNESCO Chair & Institute of Comparative Human Rights. 12th Annual International Conference on Food Security and Human Rights.”

Upon return to his home in Honolulu, Dr. Kent was invited to speak to the University of Hawaii's Law School, its School of Public Health, and its Department of Urban and Regional Planning.

Currently he is working on a paper called “Rights-Based Disaster Planning,” which will be the basis of talks he has been invited to share this coming February at the East-West Center in Honolulu, and at a conference in March for the Pacific Rim International Conference on Disability and Diversity.

The New Zealand Lactation Consultants Association has requested Prof. Kent lecture in three cities in mid-2012. Additionally, as Co-Convener of the Commission on International Human Rights of the International Peace Research Association, he plans to participate in its meeting in Japan in November 2012. These trips to New Zealand and Japan will be Prof. Kent's 93rd and 94th international trips, representing a lifetime of work dedicated to empowering the most marginalized people.

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Alumni Messenger

Full-time Psychology Faculty Position Open at National University - Bakersfield, CA

01/03/2012
Full-time Psychology Faculty Position—Bakersfield, CA National University, Department of Psychology, invites applications for a one-year Full-Time faculty position in Bakersfield, CA. The position may be renewable subject to budgetary considerations. Responsibilities The faculty member will teach on-site undergraduate graduate and counseling psychology courses. The appointee will...

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Psychology and Humanistic Studies

Corporate commercialism in schools threatens critical thinking

01/01/2012

Partnerships between schools and for-profit companies are a growing trend in cash-strapped school districts but may cause harm to schoolchildren, according to new research by an international team of scholars. The potential damage goes beyond the immediate health threat posed by the school-based marketing to children of soft drinks and other junk foods. Corporate commercializing activities in schools undermine the teaching of critical thinking skills essential to a good education, according to Alex Molnar and co-authors Faith Boninger and Joseph Fogarty.

The report, The Educational Cost of Schoolhouse Commercialism: The Fourteenth Annual Report on Schoolhouse Commercializing Trends: 2010-2011, was released on November 7, 2011 by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado Boulder.

The new report on schoolhouse commercializing trends considers how commercializing activities in schools directly and indirectly undermine the quality of the education children receive. Harm is due to the shifting of school time toward activities promoted by commercial sponsors. Such business-sponsored activities in recent years include product demonstrations and contestslike the “ASA School Tour.” The pretext for the tour is to show children that it’s cool to be tobacco-free, but when the Tour arrives at a local high school, classes aresuspended for a mandatory assembly that includes an action sports show and exposure to sponsors’ branding, with on-site promotions and sampling.  When Microsoft sponsored the tour, for example, new Xbox games were a featured attraction.

Finally, a less obvious but significant educational harm associated with school commercialism involves the threat posed to critical thinking. Research shows, Molnar and colleagues write, that critical thinking skills are best fostered in an environment where students are encouraged “to ask questions, to think about their thought processes and thus develop habits of mind that enable them to transfer the critical thinking skills they learn in class to other, unrelated, situations.” Yet, as they point out, “…it is never in a sponsor’s interest for children to learn to identify and evaluate its points of view and biases, to consider alternative points of view, or to generate and consider alternative solutions to problems.” 

“Corporate sponsors want their story to be accepted uncritically,” Molnar says.

The report references the coal industry’s collaboration with children’s book publisher Scholastic Inc.. Scholastic produced materials for the American Coal Foundation’s “The United States of Energy” 4th grade curriculum. Classroom materials in this program were written to emphasize many states’ use and production of coal.

This coal curriculum caught the attention of a coalition of advocacy groups in the spring of 2011 and led to a campaign that culminated in Scholastic’s July decision to halt distribution of the coal-related materials and to reduce its production and promotion of other sponsored content. Yet Scholastic Inschool, the publisher’s marketing arm for corporate clients, has launched numerous in-school marketing campaigns in recent years for companies such as Brita water filters, Disney and Nestlé.

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Psychology and Humanistic Studies

Occupy Everything

12/29/2011

by Glen T. Martin, with comments by Saybrook professor Dr. Marc Pilisuk

The Occupy Wall Street movement has spread around the world. It has not only spread rapidly to cities and universities all around the US, there have been Occupy demonstrations and movements in Toronto, Athens, Sydney, Amsterdam, Stuttgart, Tel Aviv, Milan, and elsewhere. With the bailouts and immunities from responsibility of the big banks worldwide, with huge military budgets draining most nations of the world, and with debt restructuring being forced on nations around the world by a global economic system that transcends all nations, people everywhere are becoming directly aware of the domination of the world-system by the 1% at the expense of the 99%.

In these protests, unemployed persons join with discharged veterans, heavily indebted students, and politically aware citizens to occupy public places in protest of this global system of domination and exploitation. Police, like the politicians and governments they serve, have been colonized to do the bidding of the 1%, as is so painfully clear from the systematic violence and brutality they have shown in the repression of unarmed and peaceful citizens within the Occupy movement.

If the new sense of solidarity and political awareness of the Occupy movement are to have a real effect on this global system, it will have to become a planetary political awareness and bind itself in solidarity with all of humanity. Half the world’s population lives on less than two US dollars per day. One sixth the world’s people lack access to clean water. One third lack basic sanitation. Worldwide, the richest 1% have as much wealth as the bottom 60% combined. These figures are not new, but they are all getting worse. Global poverty is growing. Global water scarcity is growing. The richest 1% are getting rapidly richer relative to the bottom 99% who are getting rapidly poorer. We need to occupy everything.

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Alumni Messenger

Saybrook Alumnus Bart Billings, Ph.D. '74 On the 20th International Military and Civilian Combat Stress Conference

12/22/2011
From Dr. Billlings: This article's subject is one that will be discussed extensively at next years 20th International Military and Civilian Combat Stress Conference scheduled for May. This conference is the longest running conference of its kind in the world. Contact me for the complete article. Bart P Billings, Ph.D. Founder and Director 20th International Military and Civilian Combat Stress...

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Alumni Messenger

Online Courses: The UN-mandated University for Peace

12/22/2011
Upcoming Online Courses - Call for Applications Upcoming Online Courses – 2 January to 2 March, 2012 The UN-mandated University for Peace is accepting applications for the Distance Education Programme. Apply for individual courses for training in the following areas of study, or take the courses for credit, towards the completion of the online Master of Arts in Sustainable Peace in the...

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Alumni Messenger

Alumna Carolyn Williams-Orlando, Ph.D. '08 Joins GIVE AN HOUR™ NETWORK

12/22/2011
Dr.Carolyn Williams-Orlando (Saybrook Ph.D. '08) PROUDLY JOINS GIVE AN HOUR™ NETWORK Provides Free Counseling to Troops & Families Boulder, Colorado November 30 2011– Dr. Carolyn Williams-Orlando announces that she has joined Give an Hour™, a nonpartisan, nonprofit national network of mental health professionals providing free counseling services to returning troops and...

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