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Good businesses; great reputations; very bad decisions

12/11/2009

The economy is still in a shambles after many of the world’s most prominent firms engaged in financial shenanigans that a sixth grader could see through – so maybe we shouldn’t be surprised by a new study showing that there’s a strong correlation between a corporation’s prominence and its willingness to break the law.  

The study is presented in the Academy of Management Journal.  Of the 469 incidents of illegal activity sampled in the study, 382 (81 percent) were committed by firms on Fortune magazine’s “Most Admired Companies” list and were considered “high performing.”

Why?  According to a review of the study “It's not that poor firms necessarily have more scruples or that prominent, high-performing companies are inherently evil (or that Fortune magazine is playing a cruel joke on its readers), but that management teams at more prominent firms feel more pressure to do something — anything — to increase the bottom line and maintain their preeminent position.”

It is, in other words, the nature of the system:  the more successful a company is, the more it’s pressured to outperform expectations, and that leads to increasing pressure to cut moral corners. 

Marvin Brown, a respected business ethicist and member of Saybrook’s Graduate College of Psychology and Humanistic Studies Organizational Systems faculty, says that the very foundation of capitalism as we understand it – going back to Adam Smith – involves turning a blind eye to the ethical questions involved in corporate success.

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University

How not to grow old in the 21st century

12/11/2009

There may never have been a worse time to grow old than the 21st century. 

That’s the contention of MIT computer scientist Philip Greenspun, who recently suggested in his blog that a combination of modern technology and new prejudices “reduces the value of old people.”

“An old person will know more than a young person, but can any person, young or old, know as much as Google and Wikipedia?” Greenspun asks. “Why would a young person ask an elder the answer to a fact question that can be solved authoritatively in 10 seconds with a Web search?”

Worse is the fact that the skills that it takes a lifetime to develop are now rendered obsolete within years by new innovations in technology – meaning that the young often know more than the elderly about how to get by in the world.  This, Greenspun suggests, has never before happened in human culture.

As for wisdom?  Greenspun doesn’t discount it, but says that there’s a paradox here:  “Unfortunately, the young people who are most in need of an elder’s wisdom are the least likely to realize it.”  The end result is the same:  this is a terrible time to grow old.

Doris Bersing, a psychology faculty member with Saybrook’s Graduate College of Psychology and Humanistic Studies, doesn’t disagree with that basic conclusion, but thinks Greenspun has left one critical element out of the equation:  the elderly themselves.

Even if a young person wanted to receive guidance from knowledgeable elders – and don’t be mistaken, many of them do – where would they find one?  How would they connect?  Too often, they can’t.

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University

The key to civic engagement: to thine own self be true

12/11/2009

If you need a reason to get involved in your community, there are dozens. 

Studies show that people who are civically engaged tend to be healthier and happier and feel a greater sense of purpose and connection to their community.

Communities where people are engaged tend to be more resilient, prosperous, and safe – not to mention democratic. 

So why do so few people get involved?

There is good news:  a recent article in Miller-McCune notes that some local governments have recently seen strong results from programs designed to foster civic engagement. Even so, levels of participation in civic organizations and community groups … let alone just doing good for one’s neighbors … appears to be at an all time low.  Can this trend be turned around?

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University

A new website for a new University

12/11/2009

The new Saybrook University website launched this week, and with it a single sign on process for:

• The password protected side of the website
• SMS
• Student Gmail.

Extension of the single sign on process to MyLearning is anticipated to be completed shortly thereafter.
 
The primary Saybrook URL address, www.saybrook.edu has not changed. However, any URL addresses to specific pages on the old Saybrook Graduate School and LIOS websites will no longer work because the new website employs a new technology platform and the organization and presentation of website content has changed substantially.
 
Feel free to send feedback on the new site to Forum@saybrook.edu.

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University

Save the date - come celebrate with us

12/11/2009

We’ve come a long way:  Join us at a party to honor and celebrate the new Saybrook University on Friday, Jan. 15, at 8 p.m., during the Graduate College of Psychology and Humanistic Studies Residential Conference, in the main ballroom at the Westin San Francisco Airport Hotel. 

Dessert and Champagne will be served, and there will be music and dancing until 11.

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University

What does the Earth Friendly Food Chain mean to you?

12/11/2009

Save the date:  Saybrook Graduate College of Psychology and Humanistic Studies adjunct faculty member Linda Riebel will be speaking at the Say Francisco Public Library about her new book The Earth Friendly Food Chain.

A look at the dangers of the industrial food system and the exciting world of healthy, sustainable food, The Earth-Friendly Food Chain describes five key decisions readers can make to protect the earth and their own health. 

The presentation is free and open to the public.

What:  Linda Riebel, discussing The Earth Friendly Food Chain
When:  Tuesday, December 15, at 6 pm.
Where:  San Francisco Public Library (main), 100 Larkin Street at Grove Street (near Civic Center BART).

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Feeback time: it's your Forum, have your say!

12/11/2009

It’s a time of transition and expansion at Saybrook University, and the Saybrook University Forum is no exception:  by this time next month, we’ll have undertaken a redesign including a new look and new sections. 

That’s only the beginning:  we intend to just keep getting better.  Long term, expect new ways of organizing content, more frequent articles, and in-depth looks at subjects that members of the Saybrook community are passionate about.

But before we start, we’d like to get your input:  What kind of content would you like to see represented here?  What subjects would you like us to cover?  Are there any new features you’d like to see? 
How can we make the Forum better for you? 

Let us know by emailing Forum@saybrook.edu.

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Discuss "What Matters Most" with James Hollis and Donald Moss

12/11/2009

How do we live fulfilling lives? What is most important for spiritual, mental, and physical well being? 

Begin the new year with perspectives on these vital and intriguing questions with: James Hollis, PhD, noted Jungian analyst and author, and Donald Moss, PhD, existential health psychologist and Mind-Body Medicine scholar.

Jim Hollis, Director of Saybrook University’s Jungian Studies program, will speak on themes from his latest book, What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life. Its premise: “We are here to be eccentric, different, perhaps strange, perhaps merely to add to our small piece, our little clunky, chunky selves, to the great mosaic of being.”

Don Moss, Chair of Saybrook’s Mind-Body Medicine program and editor of Handbook of Mind Body Medicine for Primary Care, will reflect upon what matters most with the perspective of his work in psychology and integrative health.  His current book in process, Pathways to Illness, Pathways to Health, explores the relationship between losing one’s path in life and the development of illness.

Join us after the presentation and learn about our graduate programs in Jungian Studies (with residential options in San Francisco and Houston) and Mind-Body Medicine.

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University

The philosopher and the Nazi

11/30/2009

Martin Heidegger is sometimes thought to be one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century – and a critical figure in the foundation of existentialism. 

He was also a Nazi.

For decades, his defenders have contended that he was a major philosopher, but only a minor Nazi – a member of the party for only a year, and an unwilling accomplice. 

But what if that isn’t true? 

Several new publications, some with new evidence, are suggesting that Heidegger was a more enthusiastic Nazi than he ever admitted, and his defenders ever knew. 

But more than Heidegger the person, they’re suggesting that Heidegger the philosopher is also suspect.

“Drawing on new evidence, the author, Emmanuel Faye, argues fascist and racist ideas are so woven into the fabric of Heidegger’s theories that they no longer deserve to be called philosophy,” Patricia Cohen writes in the New York Times.  “As a result Mr. Faye declares, Heidegger’s works and the many fields built on them need to be re-examined lest they spread sinister ideas as dangerous to modern thought as ‘the Nazi movement was to the physical existence of the exterminated peoples.”’

Intellectually speaking, those are fighting words – and the issue is one with which some Saybrook community members, as students and practitioners of existential psychology, are grappling.

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University

War is harder on soldiers who kill

11/30/2009

Soldiers are no less human for wearing a uniform, and so perhaps it’s not surprising that new research shows that soldiers who kill tend to have far more difficult lives than soldiers who don’t. 

That’s the conclusion of a new report produced on Vietnam Veterans by UC San Francisco and the VA Medical center.  Even compared to other combat veterans, soldiers who killed (or think they killed) are more likely to suffer long-term from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, violent behavior, and other psychological problems. 

To Stanley Krippner, a psychology faculty member at Saybrook and co-author of the book Haunted by Combat, this isn’t a surprise:  treating traumatic situation in a “one-size fits all” kind of way will never account for the unique experiences each soldier takes back with them from battle.  However you slice it, killing someone is not like being shot at - no two experiences are the same.

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