Simon Trace is the CEO of the international development charity Practical Action, which works to help poor people in the developing world use technology to transform their lives.
Human development has gone hand-in-hand with technical change. Technology (defined for these purposes as both knowledge and tools) enables people to achieve well-being with less effort and drudgery, or at lower cost and with fewer resources. Technical innovation is essential for people to be able to make more effective use of the resources available to them and to respond to social, economic and environmental changes.
For those of us lucky enough to live today in one of the so-called “developed nations,” modern technology is so woven into the fabric of our daily lives that we barely notice how dependent we are on it. But remove even just one simple strand and things start to unravel very quickly, as a simple thought experiment demonstrates.
The Tech Disparity
Try to replay the first two hours of your day after getting out of bed on a cold, dark winter’s morning in your mind. Then repeat the exercise imagining how you would have fared if you did not have an electricity or gas supply to your house, your neighborhood or your place of work. That’s how a third of humanity lives. One hundred and thirty-two years after Edison introduced the first commercially viable incandescent light bulb, 1.3 billion people are still living in darkness, with no access to electricity, and 2.7 billion still cook over open fires. Clearly we have a problem ensuring well-established technologies are made available to all who need them.
I was honored to be asked by Cheryl Fracasso and Harris Friedman to contribute to a special Leaders and Mentors issue of Neuroquantology. What a great way to highlight Creativity at Saybrook, and our new programs, I thought! The attached article is called Creativity Revisited.
As per the format, I did need to say a few things about my own curious background and path, and added some useful research findings on creativity and mental health. But I then switched to Saybrook, the development of our Creativity programs, and colorful figures such as Stan Krippner, and Steve Pritzker.
The best part of all was when I got all of ten (10) Saybrook students/alums to write about their own experience, their own work with creativity, and their own visions for the future. Clearly this (the last half) is the best part! Judith Kolva, Ph.D., Alumna who just did the wonderful memoir for Saybrook's 40th anniversary, edited this last part, and put in her own amazing story.
Denita Benyshek (who is almost done with her doctorate!) decided to write her own piece for Neuroquantology, which I hope you will see later on--along with her own original artwork.
See what you think (PDF). Oh yes, there are stunning photos of these 10 Saybrook graduate students/alums, including Judith. Are Saybrook Creativity graduate students naturally good looking? Seems so :-)
-- Ruth Richards
Robert Jackson-Paton has been chosen as a presenter at the upcoming White Privilege Conference, occurring March 28-31 in Albuquerque, NM. The theme of the conference is Intersectionality: Vision, Commitment, and Sustainable Partnerships.
He will facilitate a workshop entitled Settlement Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Covered Wagon.
As with White privilege, invisible benefits—to Whites—accrue to White settlers through the ongoing occupation of Indigenous territories taken through a variety of dishonest means, and the transmission of that conquest through generations to the present day. The subsequent access to resources, land, wealth, education, and so on manifests as both White and settlement privilege. Environmentalism as a settler narrative will be a focus of discussion. Detailed analysis, personal narratives, as well as various interactive exercises will be provided to initiate the decolonization of White settlers in the United States, and begin conversations toward collective and individual healing.
Additionally, Jackson-Paton will be leading an all-day institute - along with Saybrook Professor Jürgen Kremer and David Raymond - on the topic Facing Collective Shadows: Accounting for and Healing from White Settlement.
In this experientially grounded workshop participants will begin to face, account for, and heal from the collective shadows of White settlement in the United States. Individual and group healing exercises will be initiated and reflected upon through a variety of ways of knowing, including but not limited to the arts, movement, and mindfulness-based practices. Particular attention will be given to making connections between the conquest of First Nations (Indigenous Peoples) and ongoing White and settlement privilege in order to facilitate deep self-reflection, self-exploration and collective transformation. Conversations will include decolonization strategies for Whites, the intergenerational transmission of the trauma of settlement, cultural identities connecting Whiteness and settlement, creating ceremonial protocols for collective and individual healing, as well as the possibilities of reclaiming relationships with nature, people and society.
Prior to attending and presenting at the White Privilege Conference, Jackson-Paton has been selected to participate in Healing Historical Harms, February 6-7 at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, VA. This training presents tools that assist in analyzing the legacies and aftermaths of historical trauma. The approach includes comprehensive strategies and practices for addressing historical trauma.
The Berghof Handbook for Conflict Transformation is Berghof Conflict Research’s key publication. Constantly evolving and developing, this online platform presents cutting-edge knowledge and experience for scholars and practitioners working on transforming violent ethnopolitical conflict.
Since its inception in 1999, the Berghof Handbook is designed to present state-of-the-art research and practice in conflict transformation to an international audience. It has three primary aims:
- fostering critical discussion both among and between academics and practitioners;
- bridging the gap between theory and practice in the field of conflict transformation; and
- including a wide range of voices and perspectives from different regions throughout the world, as well as from multiple disciplines and faculties.
The Berghof Handbook for Conflict Transformation is a comprehensive and cumulative website resource that provides continually updated cutting-edge knowledge, experience and lessons learned for those working in the field of transforming violent ethnopolitical conflict. The website content comes from two central resources: 1) commissioned Articles by leading experts from current practice and scholarship; and 2) a Dialogue Series on key issues, in which practitioners and scholars critically engage and debate with one another in light of their varying experience. Dialogues, along with a 2004 and a 2011 version of the main body of the Handbook, are also distributed in print.
The Berghof Handbook is not attempting to summarise the consolidated knowledge of a well-established discipline. It is an effort to draw attention to established practices and concepts, as well as to thorny issues and challenges. Instead of presenting a collection of recipes or ready-made tools, our goal is to put these established practices into a broader conceptual framework in order to understand their functions, strengths and weaknesses.
The Handbook's topic structure is organised into five sections according to the various dimensions of conflict transformation. In the coming year, our special focus will be on post-conflict regeneration, reconciliation and the legacy of the past, and support for peace processes. To date, the Handbook includes:
- Preface & Introduction
- Section I: Concepts and Cross-Cutting Challenges
- Section II: Analysing Conflict and Assessing Conflict Transformation
- Section III: Third-Party Tools and Capacity Building
- Section IV: Structural Reforms, Institution Building and Violence Control
- Section V: Recovering from War – Post-Conflict Regeneration and Reconciliation
If you would like to see a complete list of articles, please click here.
The Culture of Empathy website is a growing portal for resources and information about the values of empathy and compassion. It contains the largest collection of articles, conferences, definitions, experts, history, interviews, videos, science and much more about empathy and compassion. To stay up to date on the latest, you can sign up for the newsletter.
The Center for Building a Culture of Empathy's mission is to contribute to growing a movement of worldwide compassion. This is accomplished through a variety of means. First is by community organizing, bringing people together and holding in-person and online meetings to help build the movement. Next is by collecting and organizing related Internet material. Currently, a one-year online international conference has been launched on the question of 'How Can We Build a Culture of Empathy and Compassion?' (November 1, 2011 - October 2, 2012)
The conference consists of an ongoing series of online panel discussions with empathy and compassion experts from all fields and walks of life. The panels take place using Skype group video conferencing and are recorded and uploaded to Youtube for viewing at any time.
Location: Online on Skype and YouTube
Date: A one year 'rolling' conference starting November 1, 2011 and ending Oct 2, 2012
Vision: We envision a global culture of empathy and compassion, in a world where people experience the joy of being connected to each other and interconnected with all life.
Mission: The 'How Can We Build a Culture of Empathy and Compassion?' conference will contribute to building a global culture of empathy and compassion by bringing interested people from various world communities together to
foster synergy, build awareness and grow momentum,
inspire, support and motivate one another
share ideas and strategies
network and develop partnerships
generate plans for empathic action.
Additionally, a sub-conference asks: How to Nurture, Foster and Teach Empathy in the Education System?
A section of the conference will be specifically about how to develop a comprehensive empathy curriculum for the education system. Educators are invited to propose panels on this topic.
Join the Education Conference Facebook Event Page and invite friends.
Visit the Ashoka Empathy in Education Initiative.
See magazines on
Dr. Jürgen Kremer and Saybrook doctoral candidate Robert Jackson-Paton develop textbook on ethnoautobiography01/09/2012
This past fall, Saybrook's Jürgen Kremer and Robert Jackson-Paton developed and piloted a textbook for use at Sonoma State University (SSU), based on their work in ethnoautobiography . The book contains a glossary, practical activities, and case studies to help students understand ethnoautobiography and use it as an effective research tool.
Following the success of the pilot version, the book will be submitted for publication next summer and used in additional upcoming courses - both at SSU and the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). The book is titled
Stories of Decolonization, Autobiography, Ethnicity: Unlearning Whiteness and Reclaiming Participatory Senses of Place and Society - An Ethnoautobiographical Workbook
Expanding on a manuscript that was published by Prof. Kremer in 2003, the book considers ethnoautobiography to be a practice of radical presence. A helpful glossary is included, describing central terms used in this book. Rather than call it a glossary, however, Kremer and Jackson-Paton prefer the term “conversation pieces” because these are “reflections intended to stimulate conversation” rather than inflexible and finalized definitions.
Table of Contents and Summary
Chapter 1: Who Am I?
The origins and varieties of ethnoautobiography are described, with three ethnoautobiographical stories as examples. Ethnoautobiography is the telling of a decolonizing story which takes an Indigenous sense of “ethno,” including ancestry, history, place (ecology), seasons, and so on.
Activity to begin cultural self-reflection.
Chapter 2: Ethnoautobiography - Why not Autobiography?
This chapter provides more detailed explanations of ethnoautobiography. In so doing, examples from published authors—including Gerald Vizenor, Gloria Anzaldua, Paula Gunn Allen, Leslie Marmon Silko, Helene Cixous, and bell hooks—model elements of ethnoautobiographical narratives.
Activities to research ancestry and to expand on our autobiographies.
(Parts of this post originally published by The Guardian, December 30, 2011).
While 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.
This 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.
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.
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.