Saybrook University

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No education, no peace -- that's the way the world works

03/03/2011

Tarakan_refugees_(090819) The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO) released the 2011 Education for All Global Monitoring Report on Monday that gives some discouraging news about the children that are living in our war torn nations.

In a press release issued March 1, 2011, UNESCO states that armed conflict is robbing 28 million children of education.

Living in a conflict area puts millions of children at risk of sexual violence, human rights abuses and targeted attacks on schools. These armed conflicts are not only destroying the educational infrastructure but the social structure that sustains the school and educational system. Teachers often flee the country during war time.

Violent conflicts reinforces inequities that are already rooted in a country, wars push those on the edges further out, depriving them of the needed basic resources and a tool to help them overcome disparities – and a resource that is almost always overlooked for refugees is education.

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Can we stop pretending the private sector is so efficient?

03/02/2011

Ship of Fools Recently in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed capping the salary of school superintendants at $175,000.  That’s still a lot of money, and it would certainly help school districts save $100,000 here and there annually. 

But I’m confused:  why is it that, when private sector CEO’s are offered multi-million dollar incentive packages during the height of a recession, it’s considered essential business strategy because they need to attract top talent – but when school districts pay a fraction of that for quality superintendents, it’s considered waste and inefficiency?

We’ve all somehow gotten the idea in this country that government is wasteful while the private sector is efficient ... but then why is it that Goldman Sachs can justify offering its already wealthy employees billions in bonuses for 2010 alone, while teachers and hospital workers are told they can’t even organize for better working conditions?  Wouldn't teachers and hospital workers demanding bonuses be the height of efficiency?  Because, just like it's supposed to do for bankers, it would keep and retain the top talent? 

Why is Goldman’s extravagant spending a savvy, efficient, use of shareholder dollars, while the comparatively small amounts needed to better support government employees are considered a waste of taxpayer dollars? 

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Mindfullness training results in more ethical business decisions

03/01/2011

Meditating Monks Recently the federal Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission concluded about the 2008 economic collapse:  “there was a systemic breakdown in accountability and ethics.”

No kidding. 

It goes on:  “Unfortunately – as has been the case in past speculative booms and busts – we witnessed an erosion of standards of responsibility and ethics that exacerbated the financial crisis.”

This isn’t limited to the past, either:   lack of accountability and ethics is prevelent all over the business world. How do we encourage ethical decision making in business? If ethics courses in business school did the job, we wouldn’t have had a financial collapse in the first place.  Two researchers offer another solution.

Doctoral Student Nicole Ruedy and Maurice Schweitzer professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania have published a report called “In the Moment: The Effect of Mindfulness on Ethical Decision Making”, in the February issue of Journal of Business Ethics.

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The horrors of the past are very much a part of the present. Why are we ignoring them?

02/28/2011

Most people think the Holocaust was a one-time, unthinkably tragic sequence of events that we would never let happen again.

Most people think that slavery ended decades ago – and was a horrendously barbaric practice that has no place in the modern world.

Most people are mistaken.

Our world continues to condone slavery and genocide.  They’re more clandestine, more under the radar, than their historical predecessors, but they’re very real and very 21st century. 

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Research shows: the secret to lasting love is gratitude

02/25/2011

Love by Bohringer Friedrich We all want a relationship that works – but most of us, if we’re honest, admit we only have a limited idea how to do that.  

What makes relationships between committed couples and married partners work? What causes them to fail? It turns out there are answers, and one of them will surprise you.

In March, the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences will publish a study that looks at gratitude among married partners. A first of its kind, the research comes in the wake of studies that prove the positive effects of gratitude for the physical and psychological well-being of individuals. The couples research looks at fifty married couples of at least twenty years, and gathered specific data. A sneak peak of the research results suggest:  gratitude makes all the difference.

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"Dreaming" isn't just sleeping: it's problem solving, meaning making, and a key to health

02/24/2011

Nun's_dream_by_Karl_Briullov We spend a third of our lives sleeping – and if you’re not sleeping enough, you could be in trouble. The National Sleep Foundation compiled research that shows lack of sufficient qualitysleep is linked to:

But the thing we miss out on most is dreaming.  Dreaming gives our brains the time and the space to process our everyday experiences. That process in itself is beneficial.

Scientists at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center recently published research that supports this perspective. They found that while we are sleeping, our brains are happily working, undistracted by the day to day busyness. In the sleep state the brain has the opportunity to track, file and integrate all of the information that was gathered throughout the day with what we already have stored away. In that tracking the mind can find solutions to tasks that may have stumped us earlier in the day.

It’s as if our brains are working hard to organize our thoughts – and that’s beneficial for our waking lives.

Dream research is looking how we can be more active in our “learning” or “problem solving” while we’re sleeping.

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To help victims of disaster, we have to remember them

02/23/2011

Oil-spill It’s been nearly ten months since the largest oil spill in the history of the United States. For American media, it is a distant memory. For those that it affects, it is still an everyday horror story.

 On that dreadful day of April 10, 2010, oil spewed out into some of the worlds most precious and vital wildlife sanctuaries in the Golf Coast. Scientists estimate 18-39 million barrels of oil leaked into the waters over a series of months spreading over nearly 30,000 square miles.

Media attention has primarily focused on the immediate effects of the spill, the environmental travesty, and its effect on the American food supply.

This is significant. But the human toll of this travesty is unreported on, and far worse. 

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How well does your body know your mind?

02/22/2011

Bharata_natyam_dancer_medha_s The best way to understand what you’re feeling might be to ask what your body’s doing. 

Anyone who’s been paying attention to research knows there’s a connection between the mind and the body ... and anyone who’s been paying careful attention is at least a little aware on a visceral level of how that connection works.  The ability to observe the mind-body connection in action is called “emotional coherence.” The greater the level of emotional coherence the greater our ability is to notice the connection between a pounding heart and anger.  

Is it possible to improve our emotional coherence through specialized training?

In a 2010 study, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley investigated that question.  Their study included 21 Vipassana meditators, 21 dancers, and 21 individuals who did not practice any form of specialized body awareness practice. Participants watched four films that were designed to bring up a range of emotions. While they watched these films, there were then asked to monitor their own emotional experiences. They used a dial that had a rating scale ranging from very negative to very positive and completed a number of questionnaires. The researchers also monitored the participants heart rate with an EKG.

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In a crisis, most of us make things worse. Here's how not to ...

02/21/2011

Tao You’ve probably heard that the term “crisis” in Mandarin Chinese means both danger and opportunity. But how does that work, exactly?  How does a person change the next major crisis in their life and turn it into an opportunity to grow and thrive?

There is a dark omen around “crises,” and rightfully so.  It’s all too common for a crisis to lead to a domino effect and cascade:  the old adage suggests that bad things happen in three, and we all have stories. 

That’s because most people are surprisingly bad at keeping today’s crisis from snowballing into tomorrow’s.  All too often our urge to “problem solve” no matter what the cost is an over-reaction that only make matters worse. 

As Rollo May said, “It is an old and ironic habit of human beings to run faster when we have lost our way and we grasp more fiercely at research, statistics, technical aids…”

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Drug companies are waging Pharmacological Warfare on us – and what the FDA doesn’t know can kill you

02/18/2011

Assorted pharmaceuticals by LadyofProcrastination Recently the New York Times highlighted the story of a US soldier who returned home from war and then died from his healthcare.  It was tragic for him, and it happens all the time.

 

The soldier suffered from Multiple Pharmaceutical Toxicity – what happens when the multiple drugs prescribed by physicians interact in patients.  Many of these interactions have never been tested in clinical trials or regulated by the FDA.

 

There are no limits to the number of prescription medications one person can take. And therefore, as in the case of US Solider Anthony Mena, no limit to the pill combinations; thus the multiple synthetic chemical interactions of different medications are essentially tested on you and me. And, folks, it does not look good.

 

 

 

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