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Posts from the ‘Leadership’ Category

Massively open spirit?

MIT and Harvard University recently announced a new venture in online education, called edX, in which they will offer free online courses from both universities.  With this they are entering the realm of what is being called “MOOC” – massively open online courses.  (And I thought UUs were bad about acronyms!) MIT began this by offering a course in March on Circuits and Electronics which drew in 120,000 participants, some 10,000 of whom passed the midterm exam. The courses will provide certifications, but not official credit.  For those types of courses not easily “graded” (such as humanities courses) they will offer peer review.  Read more

The Secret of Innovation

I’ve been reading a fascinating book by Stephen Johnson called The Invention of Air On the surface it’s about Joseph Priestley, the Unitarian minister who “discovered” oxygen, and who also went on to help advise the creators of our republic on how to structure our government.  But really it is about the story of how a series of amazing innovations happened in a short period of time, and some thoughtful reflections on what brought about that creative burst.

It turns out that Priestley was consumed by the question of what constituted air since he was a small child.  He kept playing with the question in many different ways, experimenting, reflecting and experimenting again.  But Johnson posits that what finally helped him make his leap into “discovery” was the community of innovators that he was surrounded by – people like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.  (Johnson offers this little interesting historical nugget: in the 165 letters that Jefferson and Adams exchanged in their lives, Franklin is mentioned 5 times, George Washington, 3 times, Alexander Hamilton, twice; Joseph Priestley on the other hand was featured no fewer than 52 times!)

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Mad Men and Covenant

I didn’t have time to watch Mad Men last night (though of course I taped it).  Like millions of people I have avidly watched the show with both fascination and disgust.  It’s a little like watching home movies of your parents doing things you really shouldn’t see.

On the one hand, it gives us evidence of how things have changed, particularly for women.  In an interview with Susan Stamberg on Sunday morning, Eleanor Clift, the prize winning journalist talks about starting her career as a typist at Newsweek.  As she said, “frankly, I was not unhappy with that. I have said many times over the years, I just wanted to be where what I typed was interesting.”  How thankful I am that she is now the one producing what is interesting, not just recording it. Read more

The Hunger Games and Covenant

Okay, I admit it.  I haven’t read The Hunger Games.  Nor am I racing out to see the movie tonight.  I do plan on reading them just to try to understand the cultural phenomena they have become.

But in listening to the talk about them something has stuck out for me. The star of the movie, Jennifer Lawrence, playing Katniss, says this:  ”The most important message of this story is how powerful one person can be and the power we have as a people.” Obviously people in general, and the millennial generation in particular, are craving an opportunity for one person to make a difference.

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