Students posted about it on their Facebook pages; faculty sent links back and forth; at Saybrook’s San Francisco offices, administrators asked one another about it. Everyone in the community, it seems, has an opinion about last week’s New York Times op-ed by Mark Taylor, “End of the university as we know it.”
In it, Taylor suggests scrapping traditional fields of study in favor of real-world problem solving clusters; abolishing tenure and replacing it with seven year, renewable, teaching contracts; replacing academic papers, and even dissertations, with scholarly multi-media presentations; and training academics for careers outside of teaching.
It’s not the first time the death of the modern university has come up (link), but this time it’s engaged the Saybrook community like no other.
Here are some student and faculty reactions. Please continue the conversation by leaving your own responses in the comments section.
Psychology faculty Eugene Taylor found the document “Orwellian” – and product of the very type of thinking it wishes would end.
“(Mark Taylor) might be more optimistic if he were more person-centered. The very thing all his emphatic points miss is the spiritual side of learning.” Eugene Taylor wrote.
Ruth Richards was thrilled to discover she had won the prestigious Arnheim Award for Lifetime Achievement from the American Psychological Association – but she was less excited for herself than for her field.
This award, and the fact that it specifically cites her as one of the pre-eminent scholars in the study of creativity, is a major recognition of the field she’s devoted much of her scholarly life to.
“Everyday creativity may seem obvious, even a necessity for any of us to survive in this crazy world,” says Richards, a member of the psychology faculty at Saybrook. “But not everyone gets it yet. Clearly (the APA) committee did, and this award helps make our work much more mainstream.”
The study of creativity, Richards points out, goes back to the founders of humanistic psychology: both Abraham Maslow and Rollo May wrote a great deal about it. Her contribution has been to take the creative out of the realm of the artistic, and instead show how it operates in daily life.
Last month His Holiness the Dalai Lama held the 18th of his celebrated “Mind and Life” conferences – inviting notable neuroscientists to India in the hope that when Buddhist epistemology and western neurology compare notes, the results are educational for everyone.
It’s the sort of communication that Saybrook faculty say they’d like to see more of: different intellectual approaches coming together to get a bigger sense of the picture.
“Exchanges between spiritual understandings of consciousness and scientific understandings can be mutually enriching,” says Amedeo Giorgi, a Saybrook faculty member in psychology who is a major figure in contemporary phenomenology. “Such exchanges can only be helpful.”
They have born fruit in the past, according to an article in the London Guardian:
(C)onferences have spurred the development of research programmes that examine the effects of Buddhist contemplative techniques and how they might be applied more widely to benefit humanity. They have, for example, been instrumental in the work of Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin, whose brain imaging studies found that experienced meditators show increased activity in the left prefrontal cortex of the brain, an area associated with emotional well-being, as well as having stronger immune systems.
But Saybrook psychology faculty Stanley Krippner, long at the forefront of the exploration of consciousness, says he always has mixed feelings when he hears about the Mind and Life conferences – because he thinks they could be taken to the next level.
The Saybrook Dialogues, a new series of conversations for networking, exploration, learning and making meaning of our personal and professional lives during uncertain and challenging times, presents its next program in early June.
“Creativity, Leadership and Wisdom” will explore the ways we can allow the creative process to inform our leadership, our work, and our lives. It will be led by Steven Kowalski, Ph.D. and Marc Lesser, MBA.
Marc Lesser is the founder and president of ZBA Associates, a company offering coaching, consulting and facilitation services. Currently conducting executive training programs for Google, he is a board member of the Social Venture Network and the author is the author of Less: Accomplishing More by Doing Less.
Steven Kowalski has over 25 years expertise in the field of creativity and innovation, and is the founder and president of Creative License. Since 1995, Steven has facilitated, coached, and trained clients in the U.S. and Europe to activate creativity and ingenuity of leaders, teams, and entire departments. He currently provides executive development solutions to impact performance and business aims at Genentech.
The Dialogue will be held Thursday, June 4, at 7 p.m., at the Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center’s San Francisco offices. Seating is limited. A $25 donation is requested.
To reserve a seat, RSVP to Terry Hopper at 415-394-5220, or email@example.com.
James S. Gordon, the Dean of Saybrook’s Mind-Body Medicine Program, and the Center for Mind-Body Medicine, now affiliated with Saybrook, are pleased to offer two training programs this summer. “CancerGuides II,” and “Food as Medicine.
CancerGuides II, which grew out of a conference that the New Yorker called “the most important alternative medicine meeting in America,” teaches health professionals and patient advocates to create safe, effective, individualized programs of comprehensive and integrative care for people with cancer and their families.
World leaders in integrative care and CancerGuides practice will help participants put their work in a larger social, historical and ecological context. Plenary speakers will offer a vision of cancer care that is fully consonant with the principles of integrative medicine, a vision which we believe will be reflected in policies the Obama Administration will implement.
“Food as Medicine,” a comprehensive clinical nutrition training program for healthcare professionals, will focus on sustainable nutrition, nutrition in practice, digestive healing, longevity and the aging brain, family nutrition, community nutrition, herbal remedies, and more.
Both programs will be held June 11 – 14, in Washington D.C..
For more information, or to register, visit www.cmbm.org.
When some people say “kids will be kids,” what they really mean is that “children are cruel.”
The assumption behind the saying is that there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s human nature. Kids won’t grow out of cruelty until they mature.
But according to a recent New York Times report, schools around the country – especially middle schools – are betting that children can learn their way out of cruelty through new curriculums.
The idea: “teach” kids empathy. If they can learn to be more empathetic, the thinking goes, children will be less cruel and more supportive to one another. Bullying will be reduced, and kids who might have been pushed over the edge as outcasts will have a better chance for happy childhoods.
It’s a nice plan, but is it realistic? Is empathy something that can be taught?
Even if it can, will it, in fact, likely lead to the desired effect of less bullying?
Good news: Saybrook's Social Concentration Director Joel Federman has done research indicating that the answer to both questions is "yes" - if you do it right.
Saybrook students will now have the opportunity to work with one of the leading practitioners and scholars of integrative medicine, as Saybrook and The Center for Mind-Body Medicine affiliate to develop a ground-breaking graduate education program in healthcare.
Dr. Lorne M. Buchman, President of Saybrook Graduate School and Dr. James S. Gordon, Founder and Director of The Center for Mind-Body Medicine (CMBM), today announced an affiliation for educational initiatives in mind-body medicine that will revolutionize graduate education in healthcare. The affiliation will bring the resources and expertise of The Center for Mind-Body Medicine to Saybrook’s masters, doctoral, and certificate programs in Mind-Body Medicine (pending WASC approval) and provide unique opportunities for professional and personal enrichment to a broad range of students interested in enhancing their skills in mind-body and integrative medicine.
Dr. Buchman also announced the appointment of Dr. Gordon as Dean of Saybrook’s Mind-Body Medicine program and its future College of Mind-Body Medicine. The future College of Mind-Body Medicine will be the focal point for Saybrook’s graduate programs in healthcare and is one of the future colleges Saybrook will be creating as it evolves into a multidisciplinary university.
James S. Gordon M.D. is a Harvard educated psychiatrist and a world renowned expert in using mind-body medicine to heal depression, anxiety, and psychological trauma. He is the Founder and Director of The Center for Mind-Body Medicine, a Clinical Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Family Medicine at Georgetown Medical School, and recently served as Chairman of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy. He also served as the first Chair of the Program Advisory Council of the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Alternative Medicine and is a former member of the Cancer Advisory Panel on Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Gordon has created ground-breaking programs of comprehensive mind-body healing for physicians, medical students, and other health professionals; for people with cancer, depression, and other chronic illnesses; and for traumatized children and families in Bosnia, Kosovo, Israel, and Gaza as well as in post 9/11 New York and post-Katrina southern Louisiana. He is the author of more than 150 articles, and a dozen books, the most recent book is Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven Stage Journey Out of Depression. He also helped develop and write the educational materials to supplement the public television series, “Healing and the Mind with Bill Moyers.”
Admit it: we all know, at some level, that rational thought can be a smokescreen.
You don’t like strawberries because there’s a rational argument for them … they just taste good. And you don’t abhor murder because there’s a good argument against it, although there is: that good argument is something you use to justify your inherent disgust at the practice.
We know that. From far back in human history people have known that we often use rational justifications as a cover for things we already believe.
But modern neuroscience has now “proven” it – showing that for many decisions the emotional parts of our brain kick in before the rational. Some people are now saying that this changes everything we know about ethics – because ethical behavior is an emotional, rather than a rational, process.
Does that follow?
In a recent New York Times column provocatively entitled “The End of Philosophy,” David Brooks suggests that new evidence that humans make value-laden, emotional decisions will lead to a new “evolutionary” perspective on ethics that doesn’t need all that difficult philosophizing. He writes:
The rise and now dominance of this emotional approach to morality is an epochal change. It challenges all sorts of traditions. It challenges the bookish way philosophy is conceived by most people. It challenges the Talmudic tradition, with its hyper-rational scrutiny of texts. It challenges the new atheists, who see themselves involved in a war of reason against faith and who have an unwarranted faith in the power of pure reason and in the purity of their own reasoning.
Marvin Brown, however, doesn’t believe it.
Saybrook President Lorne Buchman announced last week that Mike Cairns, a former Saybrook trustee, has been appointed interim Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer of Saybrook.
Cairns, who served as chair of the finance committee of Saybrook’s Board of Trustees, has over 25 years of financial experience, including tenure with such companies as Transamerica Corporation and Deloitte and Touche. Most recently, he served as Vice President of Finance for Legacy Corporation. A member of the CSCPA, he received his MBA from Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.
Cairns said he is thrilled to be working more closely with Saybrook, and pleased by its recent growth and development.
“I have served on Saybrook’s Board of Trustee’s since 2003, and during this time, I have seen the school go through many changes,” said Cairns. “The level of energy I see today is incredible and I am very excited to be here. The direction the school is taking with the new programs and affiliations can only lead to a stronger and more vibrant institution.”
The three most controversial words in government right now might be: “Pay for performance.”
A number of federal departments have recently announced that they’ll be instituting pay-for-performance plans for the first time, because they say they have a desperate need for motivated, high-quality employees … and that traditional reward structures just aren’t doing it.
At the same time, a number of prominent Democratic lawmakers have asked the Obama administration to suspend all pay-for-performance initiatives until they can be fully evaluated: they suggest that pay-for-performance systems don’t really motivate federal employees.
What’s an administration to do? What’s the best system for motivating civil servants?
Two Saybrook management experts with significant government experience – one ultimately in favor of pay-for-performance, one leaning against it – say that the issue isn’t which reward system you’re using, but whether the system actually can recognize the behaviors you want to reward.
If the system can do that, they agree, it’s probably a good one: if it can’t, it’s likely a bad one.