Greta Thunberg Rails UN Leaders for their Inaction on Climate Change

Teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg on Monday opened the United Nations Climate Action Summit with an angry condemnation of world leaders for failing to take strong measures to combat climate change.

Thunberg, visibly emotional, said in shaky but stern remarks at the opening of the summit that the generations that have polluted the most have burdened her and her generation with the extreme impacts of climate change.

“This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you,” she said.

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” Thunberg said.

Days after millions of young people took to the streets worldwide to demand emergency action on climate change, leaders gathered for the annual United Nations General Assembly were to try to inject fresh momentum into stalling efforts to curb carbon emissions.

https://www.pri.org/stories/2014-03-26/what-politicians-debating-global-warming-will-look-soon

 

https://www.pri.org/stories/2014-03-26/what-politicians-debating-global-warming-will-look-soon

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In Response to Forbes’ 2018 Innovative Leaders List- A Book Review*

The Sustainable Enterprise Fieldbook TSEF could not be timelier for its process-driven action plans and groundbreaking sustainability frameworks. This week Forbes published its 2018 list of the most creative business minds, naming 99 men and only ONE woman, Ross Stores CEO Barbara Rentler, setting off a Twitter storm that found editor, Randall Lane, with egg on his face. Lane admitted the process was ‘flawed’ and vowed to bring together a task force to reassess its selection rubric used by BYU and INSEAD professors. Full disclosure, I am a contributor to the TSEF mental models chapter of the first and second editions.  It also means I witnessed a germ of an idea come into its own and materialize an action plan for a more equitable human flourishing buoyed by sustainable practices. The vision is largely owed to lead editor, Jeana Wirtenberg, who attracted enormous talent from all sectors to contribute to discussions, round tables and chapters that materialized into a book. Yet Jeana and her leadership team saw far beyond the book in envisioning a “living fieldbook” that would not only be fodder for business student papers and discussions but also be continuously updated with new research and solutions to new emerging challenges. A recent example is a pilot program spearheaded by Professor Wirtenberg at Rutgers Institute for Corporate Social innovation, RICSI, using TSEF as it textbook as a guide for “integrating a company’s full range of capabilities and assets within innovative business models to achieve positive societal impact while advancing success and sustainability of the enterprise.” Students could contribute valuable input to the Forbes task force members through an in-depth study of the chapter on metrics that can move corporations beyond tired models and fads by replacing them with more innovative, futuristic measures instead. At a time of the year, when Americans reflect on the tragedy of 911 eighteen years ago a finding of the 911 Commission that has stood out for me are missed cues leading up to the attacks that the commission attributed to the failure of the imagination. It is the hope of TSEF contributors to provide professors and students with new tools and techniques to create a more sustainable world with visionary CEOs imaginatively leading the charge by attracting and harnessing the diverse talents of its rich human capital in the important world of creating an equitable flourishing world for all.

*A version of this review is posted on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

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Democracy’s Island Beacons—Hong Kong and Puerto Rico

While we here in the United States are bombarded daily with smoke screens of a propped up economy and innumerable divisive tactics, two island cultures are putting up the good fight for democracy. Puerto Ricans demonstrated against a corrupt government refusing to implode on itself that must have greatly disappointed real-estate developers standing in the wings. The shadow of the Tiananmen Square massacre looms large over the Hong Kong protestors who knowingly are putting their lives on the line in the island’s fight to preserve the democratic autonomy promised it in its handover to China by Britain.

In the past, islands have been the preservers of culture such as the persistent activity of the monks in Ireland who laboriously copied illuminated manuscripts by hand beginning with the Book of Durrow in the seventh century when Europe was in the Dark Ages, that would be followed by other Medieval Christian artworks such as Carolingan and Byzantine illuminated manuscripts in due course. When Buddhism was persecuted on the Asian mainland in the ninth century, Japan sheltered Buddhist monks and preserved the artifacts of its religion becoming a nation of temples and virtual living museum of Buddhist sutras and art.

Meanwhile here at home, the endangered species act has been lifted so that endangered species could thrive under its protective laws: in my state of New Jersey, no longer sheltering the bald eagle’s nest will give way to the development of farmland for yet another  Amazon warehouse. And climate change be damned with the free-for-all gas and oil drilling taking place on public lands. The land of Lady Liberty who has greeted the downtrodden to her shores in the past harboring religious freedom and asylum seekers now is witness to children being separated from the arms of their parents and put into cages—Walls, Walls, Walls.

Unfortunately, we in the states are fed a daily diet of distractions as headliners taking the focus off of ongoing activities that have been eroding democracy before our very eyes: gerrymandering, voting poll purges, voter suppression, Russian election interference, packing of the federal and supreme courts (intentionally not capitalized), and downright obfuscating the wheels of legislation, Muslim bans, vile attacks on elected officials of color, undocumented workers’ raids (who hired them?) in a nation that has permitted the NRA’s buyout of politicians who are now all implicated in the mass murders of innocent babies, children, adults, unarmed black men, women etc. Ironically, these same politicians are the loudest voices in current nationwide “trigger” laws (note the irony) all in the name of the “sanctity” of human life.

The choice is ours: either we continue to be entertained by our many distractions—streaming TV shows, stock market earnings, buying into claims of “fake news” etc. or, we can be witness to the demise of global human rights and the lives of those who will be punished, or murdered,  for their “crime” of hope and aspiration in the American dream. Are these democracy’s beacons or are they its last gasps?

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Nurturing a Global Consciousness

I will be attending the 2019 GlobalMindED Conference June 5-7, Denver CO. “Collaboration is at the heart of the GlobalMindED conference – among educators, entrepreneurs and business leaders, policymakers in government and nonprofits, and first-generation college students themselves.” https://globalminded.org. In reviewing my research I came across the following unpublished article written in 2004:

Books contain capital,” wrote Thomas Jefferson to James Madison in 1821. It took more than 175 years, but we are beginning to see what he meant. World economies have shifted from those focused on industrial productions to those centered not only on knowledge, but also creativity. (Global Literacies, 355) In the 21st century, creativity will drive commerce, employment, trade the way natural resources and industries have influenced economies and societies in the past. (Bradford, 12)

At the same time, two seemingly contradictory forces in operation observed at the dawn of the 21st century are the interdependence or interconnectedness of the global village, as well as a strong desire for individual roots. In the global village there is not a single global culture; instead, there are various global cultures, with their own languages, codes and world-views. (Bradford, 343)

If community can be defined “by modes of participation and engagement, through local gatherings in a specific physical space or through the electronic media of the World Wide Web, then though there is not a single global culture,”(Pitman, 26) there is a New World Community. With the meeting of world cultures together in real time, can the wealthier segments continue to ignore the current trend of increasing inequality? As one educator observed, the very education students and their families aspire for in order to get good jobs and succeed in society, is also an essential contributing element to the dilemma of globalization. That is, the operating dynamic that is rewarding a few while miring the majority in killing poverty, greater and greater inequality, social unrest and ecological degradation. Preparing students—even poor or minority students on scholarship—to take their places in most of society’s major institutions and to succeed in carrying them forward in their current directions will actually increase economic and social injustice. (Hug, 16)

An important question for the Globalminded attendees: as educators in the 21st century, how will we meet the challenge to not only prepare our students for the borderless e-marketplace, but more importantly instruct on humanity, both of the individual and that of community, that is vital in forming a “global consciousness?”

Sources
Bradford, GiGi, Gray, Michael and Wallach, Glenn, eds. The Politics of Culture: Policy Perspectives for Individuals, Institutions and Communities. New York: The New Press, 2000.
Hug, James E. “Educating for Justice: Any University’s Major Mission is to Work for Global Transformation,” in America, Vol. 182 No. 18, Whole No. 4488, May 20, 2000, pp. 16-22.
Mestenhauser, J. A. and Ellingboe B. (Eds.). “Portraits of International Curriculum: An Uncommon Multidimensional Perspective,” in Reforming Higher Education Curriculum: Internationalizing our Campuses. Phoenix: American Council on Education/Oryx, 1997.
Piro, Joseph. “School-Museum Collaboration: A Passage to Asian Study.” Education About ASIA. Volume 2, Number 2, Fall 1997. http://www.aasianst.org/EAA/piro.htm.
Pitman, Bonnie. “Muses, Museums, and Memories,” in Daedalus, Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Summer, 1999. Pp. 1-30.
Rosen, Robert et al. Global Literacies: Lessons on Business Leadership and National Cultures. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000.

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Contemplating the Mueller Report: To Impeach or Not To Impeach

The constitution may be vague on what qualifies as “High crimes and misdemeanors” but the Founders conceived of leadership, at the very least as aspirational; pursued by one who cultivates unceasingly his or her moral and ethical values. Ben Jonson, regarded as one of the major dramatists and poets of the seventeenth century, had this to say on truth:

Truth is man’s proper good and the only immortal thing was given to our mortality to use. No good Christian or ethnic, if he be honest, can miss it; no statesman or patriot should. For without truth all the actions of mankind are craft, malice, or what you will rather than wisdom. Homer says he hates him worse than hell mouth that utters one thing with his tongue and keeps another in his breast. Which high expression was grounded on divine reason; for a lying mouth is a stinking pit, and murders with the contagion it vents. Beside, nothing is lasting that is feigned; it will have another face than it had, ere long. As Euripides said, “No lie ever grows old.”

~Ben Jonson (1838). “The Works of Ben Jonson”, p.746

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Museum Planner Gail Lord and Soft Power

Gail Lord is sparking a revolution with her sights set on museums and cities. In her recent webinar “Museums, Soft Power and Cultural Diplomacy in a Changing World,” while acknowledging that some museums began as displays of the spoils of war and conquest, today’s museums have evolved to preserve and care for artifacts of artistic, cultural, historical or scientific importance (1). And because of their high level of professionalism, museums also play an important educational role in interpreting and exhibiting collections for their publics—which may account for the fact that museums are looked to by the general public as one of the few institutions of trustworthiness.

With an eye to the creative economy, Lord notes the trend of an urban uptick, with 54% of the population now in cities. Despite not being nation states, cities produce 80% of the world’s GDP and can exert substantial influence of soft power through shared persuasion and agenda setting.

Gail Lord sees museums, particularly small and mid-size museums, ideally positioned as “cultural diplomats of soft power”’ in their communities, as agents of “power diffusion” in a “shared economy” that thrives on collaborating and listening.

Lord’s call for soft power is echoed in the late Malcolm McIntosh’s 2015 book Thinking the Twenty-first Century: Ideas for a new Political Economy, a concept derived from the 2012 UN report that recognizes that “one individual is merely a part of a greater whole, part human, part Earthly, part cosmic” [pg.18] (2). For McIntosh an essential strand is to realize that a political economy of human flourishing will necessitate the “rise of feminization of decision-making and governance that fundamentally hinges on empathy, sociability, sharing and group work as much it does on competition, aggression and masculinity” [20] (3).

Contrary to current news headlines and the occasional authoritarian chest thumping, McIntosh is reassuring in pointing to evidence that the world has been getting more peaceful since 1945. What McIntosh identifies as one of the greatest practical and political challenges for immediate attention is the development of global citizenship allied to local living and changing the social systems and institutions that run our lives (ibid). Gail Lord can provide just the right resource.

In Cities, Museums, and Soft Power, Lord and co-editor Ngaire Blankenberg, both respected museum planners, have brought together fourteen of the world’s leading museum and cultural experts. These experts explore examples from six continents of the many facets of soft power in museums: how they amplify civic discourse, accelerate cultural change, and contribute to contextual intelligence among the great diversity of city dwellers, visitors and policy makers. The authors appeal to city governments to embrace museums, which so often are the signifiers of their cities, increasing real estate values while attracting investment, tourists and creative workers. The book also includes a tool for museums and cities, outlining 32 ways to institute and embrace soft power (2).

Gail Lord is a force to be reckoned with—as the saying goes, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” (Margaret Mead)

(1) July 25, 2018. ICOM International Committee for exhibit exchange (ICEE) Webinar Series is made possible in part by a grant from the International Council of Museum (ICOM)

(2) Lord Cultural Resources: Soft Power: https://www.lord.ca/resources/tools/topic/soft-power/1/14

(3) McIntosh, Malcolm. 2015. Thinking the Twenty­First Century: Ideas for the New Political Economy. Greenleaf Publishing.

https://www.lord.ca/cities-museums-and-soft-power-contributors

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Homage to Henry Rosemont, Jr. Confucian scholar, mentor and friend

 

Anyone who knew Henry Rosemont, Jr., who passed away July 2, 2017, saw in him a standard bearer for Confucian Role Ethics as husband, father, grandfather as well as China scholar, teacher, mentor and friend. Henry placed a particular emphasis on the interactions of the role-bearers, not on their individual qualities. There are those said to be kind; role-bearing benefactors perform kindly acts towards and with beneficiaries: individuals are said to be brave, role-bearers perform brave acts and so on. (Rosemont, 2105, p. 96). I was such a beneficiary from the very first occasion I met Henry and JoAnn a decade ago in NYC (China House Institute) where he gave a talk on Confucius. I asked him for a resource and he gave me his card and from that point on we corresponded regularly.

Reacting to the rise of nativism and an ever-widening gap between the “haves” and the “have nots,” Henry published Against Individualism: A Confucian Rethinking of the Foundations of Morality, Politics, Family, and Religion in 2015. With a presidential election hanging in the balance, I wrote in my review that Against Individualism could not be more timely reading for addressing the Herculean economic, social, political, and environmental challenges ahead (pg.116). Just as the unchecked free market has spawned “too big to fail–too big to jail” corporate behemoths that brought about the global financial crisis, the “invisible hand” myth is seeing also to the unraveling of social justice. Despite US corporate revenues at their highest point in 40 years, increased profit margins have only translated to greater income inequality.

To help us think in new ways about these challenges, philosopher and China scholar Rosemont holds up an old model for re-ordering our society: the Confucian “Way of Humankind” (pg. 93). In contrast to the free market’s emphasis on the rational autonomous individual, the Confucian Way foregrounds the family.

Granted Confucius (Latinized honorific name ”’ K’ng F’z’, literally “Master Kong”) could not have conceived of a concept such as “democracy” in the China of 2500 years ago, but his enduring vision of wise governance guided by sage administrators rested solidly upon the foundation of the people—all the people. Confucius did not believe that government should control the people by meting out punishments: people should and could control themselves. But he understood that such self-regulation takes effort. If human beings did not attend to their own personal cultivation with diligence, then constraints were necessary to rein in greed and other passions.

For Rosemont, the essence of Confucian self-cultivation comes through grounding our feelings and deepening our intuitions within the social milieu of rituals, customs, traditions, and manners (pg. 113, n# 19). Personal cultivation involves constant re-defining of what is means to be fully human. That is best measured through our interactions with others, dynamically relating as “role-bearers” to members of one’s family, community, city, state, nation and world. Such an undertaking is a continuously evolving process of life-long learning and growing and manifesting all that goes into being human. It is an “art” that is marked by respectful deference to those above, engaging harmoniously with peers and serving as an upstanding exemplar to youth.

Respectful deference, however, does not imply walking in lockstep with a leader who discharges his duties without regard for others, either locally or globally. On this, Confucius is unequivocally clear in The Analects: “To see what is appropriate to do, and not to do it, is cowardice” (2:24). Using the Confucian compass, Rosemont concluded, “in the contemporary world free and rational autonomous individuals hinder the achievement of social justice, even in purportedly democratic societies” (pg.80). Could we not then as a nation a mere 200 years old do any better than to sit at the feet of the “Master” for the wise counsel that has guided Chinese civilization for more than two millennia and “has probably seen to the feeding and housing of more human beings than any other in human history.” (pg.121)

Purchasing information: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/against-individualism-henry-rosemont-jr/1120878497?ean=9780739199824

 

 

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