Earlier this month the Saybrook Board of Trustees unanimously selected Mark Schulman to serve as Saybrook’s next president. Currently serving as President of Goddard College in Vermont and Washington, whose endowment he has tripled while increasing its enrollment, Mark has also served as President and Professor of Humanities at Antioch University Southern California; and Academic Vice President, Dean of the College, and Associate Professor at Pacific Oaks College (California and Washington). He has held faculty positions at the New School for Social Research (New York), City College of New York, Saint Mary’s College of California, and others.
Mark received his PhD in Communications from the Union Institute and has consulted and published extensively on higher education and communications strategies and issues.
He spoke with the Saybrook Forum last week. The following is an edited transcript of that interview.
SAYBROOK FORUM: Your degrees are in, in this order: literature (for undergrad); instructional systems technology (as an MS); and communications (for a PhD). Intellectually, what was the path from one to the next? How did you get from there to here?
MARK SCHULMAN: “Ever since high school I’d been a print journalist, and I’d always been interested in underground media, alternative media. In fact I put together an underground paper in high school and got in trouble with the administration because they didn’t like some of the words in it. By the time I got to college there were a lot of things involving communications as a field of study that I was interested in. As an undergraduate, I did a lot of work in film, and was very involved in it, and I was still involved in print journalism, but at the time these were all subsumed under the field of ‘literature’ as a major. So I majored in ‘literature’ at Antioch in order to do all of that.
The opportunity to go to Indiana University (for an MS) came in a time when jargon was accelerating – do you remember when trash collectors were being called ‘sanitation engineers?’ – and so while I was technically going to school for ‘instructional systems technology,’ what I was really interested in was educational media. Communications again. That’s what I was studying. Among other things, getting this degree gave me access to equipment so that I could do my own media work. Very practical, hands on, work - that was what I was passionate about doing. And I did that, but then I just kind of got the bug to be a teacher, and then an administrator in the sense of setting up programs, and got more and more into communications as a department, as a field.
After about 10 years of doing that I decided to go to Union Institute, which is somewhat similar to Saybrook in its focus on the learner (that was extremely important to me) because over time I’d become much more involved in scholarship in the theory of communications. So I did a lot of interesting work in communications theory, sort of tying everything I’d been doing together while working on neighborhood radio, and I put a non-profit low power radio station on the air for Harlem, and this was part of the new emerging field of community communication.
So the thread between them is using media and working in media, which then became transformed into thinking about media and being engaged in media studies in a scholarly way, and then finally putting programs together for media in a scholarly context and institution.
At a couple of different points in my life I’d actually considered going into print journalism as a career - I’d always been interested in combining the skills of journalism with a commitment of social justice - and sometimes I do wonder if I made the right move going into education. I really do love working in journalism and working with media.”
If you want to prove capitalism works, you might think back to 18th century Glasgow. That’s where Adam Smith was when he created the theory of market capitalism – he looked around, saw open markets, saw competition, saw the industriousness and prosperity that resulted, and correctly concluded that a system of free markets based on competition benefits everyone.
Everyone, that is, except the slaves.
Because what Smith’s famous example leaves out is the fact that Scotland’s prosperity was the result not just of free markets, but of slaves in the Americas producing tobacco that could be shipped to Scotland for processing. Without the slaves, the system wouldn’t have worked.
Smith knew it, too. He roundly condemned slavery as an evil thing in his moral writings, but simply considered it part of doing business in his economic writings – prosperity trumped human rights, because economics has nothing to do with morality.
That’s the finding of Saybrook faculty member Marvin Brown’s provocative new book Civilizing the Economy: A New Economics of Provision. “When he’s talking about slavery in his economic works, slavery is an economic issue, and when he’s writing his moral treatises, it’s a moral issue, and he never connects the two,” Brown says. “And we’re still seeing that disconnect today. We’re living it. It’s at the very basis of our identity.”
The implications for capitalism are enormous.
The California Pacific Medical Center’s Institute for Health and Healing in San Francisco will be holding its annual “Mini Medical School” on Wednesdays in April, and the Chair of Saybrook’s Board of Trustees, Alison Shapiro, will be one of the featured speakers.
The free lecture series will explore the brain — from neuroplasticity and emotions to brain injury and aging. Nationally renowned experts will share how to keep the brain active and vital, and reveal the brain’s remarkable capacity to regenerate and adapt.
Eugene Taylor, director of the Humanistic and Transpersonal Psychology concentration at Saybrook’s Graduate College of Psychology and Humanistic, will deliver the opening address of the first Plenary session of the annual “Toward a Science of Consciousness” conference, April 11 - 17, in Tucson, Arizona.
Preconference workshops begin on the 12th, and the opening session is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on April 13th.
A historian, philosopher of psychology, and internationally recognized scholar on the life and work of William James, Taylor’s presentation will be called “Could Radical Empiricism Guide Neurophenomenology as the Future of Neuroscience?”
For more information visit http://www.consciousness.arizona.edu/.
Marc Pilisuk, a Human Sciences faculty member at Saybrook’s Graduate School of Psychology and Humanistic Studies, will be speaking on the implications of war and military spending at a conference at Purdue University.
The conference, “Revisiting the Idea of the Military Industrial Complex,” will be held on April 9th, and be divided into two parts. The first will involve Pilisuk, the author of more than 140 articles on conflict and its resolution, discussing his book Who Benefits from Global Violence and War?
The second will consist of a panel of experts local to Purdue on the impact of war and military spending.
The event is free and open to the public – it will be held in Room 206 of Stewart Center, on Purdue’s West Lafayette, Indiana, campus.
The Saybrook Dialogues, an in-depth examination of topical issues facing the world today, kicks off Thursday, April 1, with additional Dialogues scheduled on April 21 and June 10.
All programs are held at Saybrook’s San Francisco campus, 747 Front Street. Dialogues begin at 7 p.m..
April 1 Dialogue: Leading in the Midst of Change
As leaders (and we are all leaders) our opportunity and challenge is to embrace change, to understand change, and to lead change - within ourselves, our lives, our organizations. This Saybrook Dialogue will focus on tools and practices for leading, and thriving in the midst of change.
Bob Andrews, Director of Executive Coaching for Gap Inc.
Jackie McGrath, Executive Coach
April 21 Dialogue: Appreciative Leadership: Turning Creative Potential into Positive Power
Since 2001, there have been 2,100 suicides in the military, triple the number of troops that have died in Afghanistan and half of all US deaths in Iraq.
In 2007, a story in the San Diego Union Tribune showed that more Marines died at Camp Pendleton from suicide, homicide, and motorcycle accidents than Marines deployed from Camp Pendleton who died in combat. In 2008, the New York Times reported that over 1,000 suicide attempts a month were reported in veterans seen at VA facilities.
These shocking statistics are matched by another one: from 2002 – 2008 the number of anti-depressants and anti-psychotics prescribed to military personnel and their families has nearly doubled. One social worker who completed two tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan estimated that 90 percent of the US combatants have used psychiatric medication: she claims she was specifically told to support the medication of the troops. A VA psychiatrist has openly admitted that he prescribes psychiatric medicine to 98 percent of the patients he’s treated.
Is there a relationship between the vast use of anti-depressants to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the astoundingly high rates of veteran suicides?
That’s the question asked by Bart Billings, a clinical psychologist, retired soldier, and Saybrook graduate, at Congressional hearings in late February.
Billings, who founded and directs the world’s longest running conference on combat stress, has concerns that the US military has a de facto policy of drugging soldiers first and asking questions later.
Recently blogger Nick Waters watched 30 different movies designed to appeal to women – “chick flicks” – to see what he could learn about modern women.
The answer was, not much … and that’s hardly a surprise. But what was startling, as Salon pointed out, was that he could only find 11 out of 30 movies that had actually been directed by women. That’s right: two thirds of the movies designed to appeal to women were actually written and directed by men.
Even that makes the situation look better than it is. According to a recent report by The Center for Study of Women and Television in Film, in 2008, women directed only nine percent of the 250 top-grossing films … and in 2007, it was only six percent.
Looking ahead, only five of the 50 biggest movies slated for 2010 have female leads – and that includes “Sex and the City,” the next “Twilight,” and an animated fairy tale.
Clearly, women are hugely underrepresented in American film. Even more amazing, says Steve Pritzker, a former Hollywood comedy writer who chairs Saybrook’s MA Psychology program with a specialization in Creativity Studies, is that when women have made significant contributions to film and television, they’ve been quickly forgotten.
Pritzker feels this issue personally. A writer for the Mary Tyler Moore Show, he was at the forefront of creating a program meant to chronicle the experiences of being a woman working in a man’s industry. “That was the point, that was the premise,” he remembers. “And the majority of episodes were written by men. It’s something that didn’t even occur to us at the time. We just didn’t think about it.”
Let's face it, some of us are just more environmentally conscious than others.
Politically, we know how to handle that: we propose policies at the appropriate levels of government, take a vote, and either set them or don’t.
But what about romantically?
According to a recent articlein the New York Times, marriage counselors are seeing a rise in the number of couples who are on the verge of divorce because one partner thinks the other isn’t “green” enough.
“Ms. Cobb chides (her husband) for running the water too long while he shaves or showers,” the Times writes, “and she finds it ‘depressing,’ she tells him, that he continues to buy a steady stream of items online when her aim is for them to lead a less materialistic life.” He says she’s entered her “high priestess phase” – and points out that these issues weren’t on her radar when they married.
It’s not just couples – it’s parents and children, brothers and sisters, and most definitely friends, who are feeling the strain between those who aren’t environmentally conscious enough and those whose awareness has perhaps been raised too much.
“In households across the country,” according to the Times, “green lines are being drawn.”
Two potential opportunities for scholarship funds and employment for interested students are available.
First, the Jenzabar Foundation is currently accepting applications and organizational nominations for Student Leadership Awards. These awards are to be given to ten campus student groups or individual students leading significant service efforts consistent with the Jenzabar mission: "to recognize and support the good works and humanitarian efforts of student leaders serving others across the global community."
The service must make an impact in serving others beyond the institution. The activity should also be a model that can either be repeated in other areas or that inspires others to form their own service model. Collaborative service among students is a plus.