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"Transparency" only sounds easy when it's not your problem

02/09/2009

Imagine you’re President Obama – just for a moment.  You’re about to be authorized to spend over $800 billion to stimulate the economy, and you’ve promised to make sure that everybody knows how the money is being spent as it happens.

How do you do that?

This is a time, after all, when people already have trouble keeping track of their loose change, email passwords, and Facebook “friends.”  What’s the best way to make sure everybody knows how $800 billion is working its way through the economy? 

To address this challenge, Obama (the real one)has announced that he’ll put updated details of stimulus spending on a website – an unprecedented display of openness, which he also hopes will “root out waste, inefficiency, and unnecessary spending in our government.”

But will a website be enough?  According to Gary Metcalf, an Organizational Systems faculty member at Saybrook who teaches classes at the Federal Executive Institute, “pure transparency,” what Obama is suggesting, may cause almost as many problems as it solves.

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Seattle recruitment event to showcase Saybrook programs

02/09/2009

Saybrook president Lorne Buchman will be available to meet and talk with prospective students at the recruitment event Saybrook will be hosting in Seattle this month.

Prospective students will have the opportunity to learn  more about Saybrook’s masters and doctoral programs;  our new PsyD, Jungian Studies, and Mind-Body Medicine programs; how they can tailor their degree program to meet their individual interests by pursuing a specialization or a concentration; scholarships and financial aid; and other advantages of Saybrook’s learning model for working professionals.

The event will be held:

Thursday, February 12, 2009
5:30 – 7:00 p.m.
The Westin Seattle Hotel
1900 5th Avenue Seattle WA 98101

RSVP to Admissions@Saybrook.edu or call 1-800-825-4480

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Wounded, then ignored

01/26/2009

Early this month the U.S. Department of Defense made a momentous decision: soldiers suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are not entitled to receive Purple Hearts.

That the DOD even reviewed the proposal shows how far acceptance of PTSD as a psychologically real – and devastating – condition has come.

Saybrook Psychology faculty member Stanley Krippner, author of “Haunted by Combat,” says that however good the idea, it was unrealistic to expect the military to extend the Purple Heart to PTSD victims.

“There is no question that PTSD victims can be as badly affected by enemy actions as personnel wounded by weapons or bombs. But that is not the issue,” Krippner said. To decide that a psychological wound meets a criterion set up for physical wounds is to think metaphorically. “But the military is not given to using metaphors when it comes to following regulations.”

Daniel Pitchford, a Saybrook student who works with veterans suffering from traumatic stress, still disagrees strongly with the decision.

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Wisconsin and Minnesota find "opportunity" in "crisis"

01/26/2009

Sometimes history happens – and nobody notices.

Two weeks ago the governors of Wisconsin and Minnesota challenged 200 years of precedent by announcing that, to cope with the financial crisis, they are directing their states to look for ways to share and consolidate services with each other.

It is virtually unheard of in the American system for states to look for ways to share services without a federal mandate. Also extraordinary is the fact that Wisconsin’s governor, Jim Doyle, is a Democrat while Minnesota’s governor, Tim Pawlenty, is a Republican – meaning that the effort crosses party lines.

Some of the services they’re looking at sharing, like pooling prison food and road salt purchases, or consolidating, like call centers and licensing functions, are so simple as to be almost no-brainers … but no two states have ever attempted this before.

What’s so exciting, says Nancy Southern, director of Saybrook’s Organizational Systems program, is that this is more than just a way to help weather a national crisis: it’s a first step in thinking about how the entire country functions.

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Could Saybrook be "The Last University?"

01/26/2009
In a time when outside pressure is pushing Saybrook to become more like everybody else, how does Saybrook push back by becoming more like itself?

Academia may not have a future, according to Stanley Fish.

Fish, a distinguished academic and New York Times blogger, wrote an article last week that landed like a bomb in every faculty lounge in America.

Soon, Fish said, there will no longer be a place for teachers who want to enliven their students’ minds rather than cramming them full of job-related skills.

We all know that American academia has become dominated by big money, big corporate partnerships, and an assembly-line mentality that treats students as “customers” rather than agents of learning. But we’ve all assumed this was an aberration – and that at some point we’d right this ship of fools.

But Fish, reviewing the book The Last Professor by Frank Donoghue, says those days are never coming back: the academy, as a place to nurture the mind, is dying out and won’t return.

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The collective unconscious of a violent protest

01/26/2009

The scene shocked the world. On New Year’s day, a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) officer shot and killed an unarmed black man who was, according to videos, already on the ground and being restrained.

There was an outcry of outrage across the Bay Area: in Oakland, San Francisco, and other cities groups of protestors jammed the streets and destroyed businesses, cars, and property belonging to people who had nothing to do with the tragedy.

The officer has since been charged with murder, but the question still looms large for residents, often poor and black themselves, who suffered at the hands of demonstrators: why did they do that? And what, exactly, did they want?

Certainly they wanted Oscar Grant’s killer to be charged with murder, but there were a shopping list of other demands ranging from more training of BART police to the immediate end to racism and an Israeli pullout from Gaza.

How does that make sense, observers wondered? Even if people agreed with the protestors, how could they possibly give them what they wanted?

Saybrook faculty member Benina Gould, who has studied the causes of conflict around the world, suggests that the question arises because the protestors themselves don’t fully know – at least not on a conscious level.

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Saybrook and LIOS, step II

01/26/2009
The synchronicity, and common purpose, of their affiliation will soon be a precedent for future institutions
 

As the first class of LIOS/Saybrook students – 41 in all – is getting to work learning how to change the world, the opportunities of each institution are now being presented to each other.

LIOS, which offers Master’s degrees, is reporting a strong interest among its students in Saybrook’s PhD programs, while Saybrook has now added LIOS’ degree in Systems Counseling to its roster of Psychology programs, and its degree in Organization to its Organizational Systems program.

There were any number of practical reasons for the two organizations to come together –LIOS needed a new accrediting affiliation, Saybrook had just begun planning a full university structure – but what really made the connection possible, and the implementation so smooth, are deeply held, deeply compatible, philosophical visions not shared by every graduate school. In fact, as LIOS president Shelly Drogin noted recently in Linkage, the LIOS newsletter, Saybrook was one of LIOS’ first choices for affiliation the last time it needed one, in the 1980s. The fact that this time, LIOS was looking for affiliation at the same time that Saybrook was expanding to a university was, as Drogin calls it, “synchronicity at play.”

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"Saybrook Dialogues" to commence this spring

01/26/2009

A new series of public discussion will offer networking, exploration, learning, and community

Too often, discussions that the world should be having take place only in the classroom.

As part of its mission to both foster community and reach out to the world around it, Saybrook is pleased to announce a new series, “Saybrook Dialogues,” beginning in March.

Held at Saybrook’s San Francisco offices, the first dialogues in the series will focus on the topic of “Leadership, Wisdom, and Making a Difference.”

Organizer Marc Lesser, the founder and president of coaching and facilitation company ZBA Associates and the former director of Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, will focus the conversations on making meaning of our personal and professional lives during uncertain and challenging times.

The Saybrook Dialogues are free, but a $25 donation is requested from those who can give. More information will be forthcoming. To RSVP please contact Terry Hopper at: 415-394-5220.

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President's Message: Ideas can bring us together

01/09/2009

The Saybrook Forum represents an initiative designed specifically to enhance communication among the constituents of our community. Our dispersed environment presents several challenges to sustaining community and the spirit of this newsletter – as is the case with the several programmatic newsletters already in publication -- is to support a more cohesive and coherent Saybrook.

You will be receiving this communication on a regular basis – every other week to start. In it you will be able to read about developments at Saybrook in a variety of areas – student and alumni achievement, faculty publications, lectures, accomplishments, strategic planning development, events and public programs, etc. I also hope the newsletter will be a forum for exploration of issues and world events pertinent to graduate education in the disciplines we teach, thoughts on pressing issues in our various fields of study and research, editorials on institutional challenges and issues, creative writing, and so forth. We can make this newsletter whatever we want it to be, from a forum that publishes abstracts of (and links to) substantive essays to routine announcements of events and personnel developments -- and everything in between. It will be exciting, to be sure, to witness its evolution.

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What ambulance services can learn from coffee shops

01/09/2009

There’s good news for San Franciscans who are sick or injured – ambulance response times have increased noticeably after years of effort.

But it could have been great news.

That’s according to David Williams, a Saybrook PhD student in Organizational Systems, who is one of the nation’s leading experts in Emergency Medical Service (EMS) system. A consultant with Fitch & Associates, he works with communities to assess their emergency systems and advises them on improvements.  He is also the research and author of two of the industry’s leading studies of operational and workplace practices and helped develop the leading EMS Leadership Forum called “Pinnacle.”

While stressing that he has not independently reviewed San Francisco’s EMS system, Williams says media reports indicate there’s still room for improvement – and that a more systemic, patient-centered, approach could be the answer in SF and across the country.

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