Revisiting Tom Friedman’s book [AMERICA] That Used To Be Us

Unpublished blog dated September 2011is still a prescient warning today:

A recent discussion on museums being in the hospitality business on the American Association of Museums LinkedIn group sent sparks flying.  Yet other current cyberspace hot topics that may pertain to the museum field, either directly or indirectly, provide important crossover perspectives. First, museums collect and preserve the best of the past and Tom Friedman’s about to be released book, That Used To Be Us, reflects upon America’s former  innovator/inventor world role. Also, Forbes magazine ran a two-part article on K-12 education reform contributed by Steve Denning, a management consultant, highlighting lifelong learning;  and, a current Harvard Business Review article touts, of all people—museum curators! 

If the world was flat just a few short years ago, then it has morphed into something entirely different, according to author Tom Friedman in his new book That Used To Be Us— How America Fell Behind in the World it Invented. Less one think this is a maudlin trip down “memory lane,” Friedman insists he just wants to wake up and Americans and get them moving. Maybe Stella lost her groove for good, but Friedman and coauthor, Michael Mandelbaum end their book on an upbeat note and with a charge, hence the rest of the subtitle …and How We Can Come Back. Both authors are foreign affairs specialists: Friedman is columnist for the New York Times, and Mandelbaum, Professor of American Foreign Policy at Johns Hopkins University. The wake up call: don’t wait for the jobs to come back, because they’re not. It will take an idea that will start a small business and hire a few people, replicated over and over in towns and cities across America. Hierarchy, as we have known it, can no longer exist for it is not just leadership that can be the sole source of ideas and innovation—everyone is needed to contribute to the new global knowledge economy. As future Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Martin Dempsey tells Friedman, the future  isn’t going to be about men and women who are physically fit and follow orders but individuals who are willing to play an integral role in “a values-based group, who can communicate, who are inquisitive, and who have an instinct to collaborate.” Another writer attracting attention is Steve Denning, a management consultant and author who was asked to contribute his thoughts on the single most needed idea to reform K-12 education. In the first of his two-part article for Forbes magazine http://tinyurl.com/4xsgdxe, Denning writes of education’s roots in factory processes for efficiency. “The single most important idea for reform in K-12” for Denning is that “education concerns a change in goal that needs to shift from one of making a system that teaches children a curriculum more efficiently to one of making the system more effective by inspiring lifelong learning in students, so that they are able to have full and productive lives in a rapidly shifting economy.” Denning develops his argument thoroughly and provides what the implications would have to be to effect change: the changing roles of parent, teachers, administrators, overhauling tests and shifting the focus from command to conversations, and finally from outputs (factory) to outcomes. In the second part of his article, Denning responds to comments from readers which include those of national educational reformers http://tinyurl.com/3tqjk4e. Another education reform under discussion since the 2008 financial market meltdown is business school curricula and what MBA education lacked in preparing its graduates for the workplace. Obviously, ethical behavior and corporate responsibility are being taken into account. Another is what in addition to financial analysis skills what are ways of producing more creative and innovative thinkers. One approach cutting-edge business schools such as Case Western University, Rotman School in Toronto and others is the addition of design laboratories in their -schools to encourage “design thinking.” The next blog installment is my open-source article of a “case study” from Yuan Dynasty China (1279-1368).

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Stop.Hate.For.Profit.Now

Whatever your reading list includes for the Fourth of July weekend or after do not miss Politico’s Nancy Scola’s article “Inside the Ad Boycott That Has Facebook on the Defensive.”

I’m reminded of the oft quoted yet apt Margaret Mead quote Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

In the article, Scola describes the novel coalition of civil rights groups and advocacy partners  who have become the architects of the #StopHateForProfit campaign that many of the boycotting companies have signed onto.

As Scola describes, “the coalition has emerged as perhaps Facebook’s most formidable antagonist, when little else — not Congress, not European regulators, not public declarations by celebrities that they were once and truly deleting their Facebook accounts — has had much effect on how the site operates. And their campaign might offer a blueprint for how activist groups can tackle a modern tech giant: fusing novel pressure tactics with the weight of legacy civil rights groups.”

In fact, with all the daunting challenges facing the global community, it may be just the blueprint to tackle these problems by distilling longing into a world community not just tied to eradicating the pandemic, but also recognizing the marvelous signs of nature’s rebound in such a short span by seeing a noticeable restored environment -such as live fish Venetian canals, seeing the Himalayas for the first time in over 30 years just from the decrease in pollution from less
carbon emissions.

As the activist Rob Hopkins remind us we must do it for our grandchildren, and their grandchildren for the future is now.

07/03/2020 03:15 PM EDT    https://tinyurl.com/ycp6pzgq

Nancy Scola is a reporter covering technology for POLITICO. Follow her on Twitter @nancyscola.

#StopHateForProfit campaign

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Trenton’s “Lost ‘African-American’ Einsteins” Never More

…there are many ‘lost Einsteins— individuals who do not pursue a career in innovation even though they would have had highly impactful innovations.” Thomas Francke

My passion as the city museum director resided in its mission to inspire civic pride in the city’s youth based on their city’s industrial history. As an educator my passion is directed  to opening my college students’ eyes to the world of East Asian art and philosophy. I would also like to see the college curricula include this important influence  on Trenton’s industrial design history that can reinvigorate Trenton’s rightful genius standing by inspiring urban students—the ‘lost Einsteins’—to take their rightful place as inheritors of a once world-famous pottery industry.

As seen in their imaginative creations, the designer/potters’ had an uncanny global antennae for an East-to-West ‘mind-to-mind transmission’ that revolutionized Trenton ceramic design and its standing in the world. We educators should not squander the genius DNA map that is the heritage of all Trenton students. Its artistic pedigree can be traced to the Trenton School of the Industrial Arts founded for the Trenton pottery artisans in the 19th century that paved the way for the present-day Mercer County Community College, MCCC,  the former Trenton Junior College.

We cannot afford any more lost Einsteins–they are the solution to today’s most pressing problems. If this sounds like a provocative proposition, it is no more so than the outsized, audacious sign of the Trenton Makes The World Takes bridge as a reminder to keep stoking the invisible modern kiln of possibilities every day.

Check out a sampling of the contemporary art scene  BSB Gallery Trenton NJ

 

Reference:

Study: Rich kids 10 times as likely to become inventors, creating ‘lost Einsteins’

Children born into the top one percent of households by income are ten times more likely to become inventors as those from below-median income families, according to the study. A new study from Stanford and Harvard finds that lack of exposure to innovative mentoring and internships is inhibiting innovation. Exposure to inventors in youth increases the likelihood kids become inventors themselves.

 

“Hence, there are many ‘lost Einsteins,'” wrote the team “— individuals who do not pursue a career in innovation even though they would have had highly impactful innovations.”

Thomas Franck | @tomwfranck Published 11:12 AM ET Sun, 10 Dec 2017     CNBC.com

 

 

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East meets West: Krishna and Seneca and Comparative Ethics

Ashwini Mokashi”s Sapiens and Sthitaprajna: A Comparative Study in Seneca’s Stoicism and the Bhagavadgita (hereafter Gita), is an important addition to the growing list of publications of comparative ethics based on ancient wisdom texts. In contrasting Seneca’s writings with the text of the Gita, Mokashi makes an important contribution to the field of developing ethics in a global context. Such a dialogue can elucidate overlapping virtues despite great cultural and geographic variation showing that people from dissimilar cultures, follow a different ordering of values rather than hold differing values (1). In the Gita section of the Hindu epic, Mahabharata, two factions of the same family facing off with one another on the battlefield is put on “pause,” while the epic’s protagonist the warrior and great archer Arjuna, has an existential crisis. He confides his fears to his charioteer, Krishna, that he knows by day’s end all the casualties will be that of his own kin. Unbeknownst to Arjuna, Krishna, is actually the avatar of the Hindu God Vishnu, who walks Arjuna through the nature of life and its disciplines of knowledge, action and devotion that are not always fixed entities, but require, at times, expanding and re-ordering. The Sthitaprajna is the practitioner who has succeeded in conquering the “inner battlefield” of the warring self to reach a selfhood of moral clarity that is reflected in his actions conducted with equanimity and non-attachment. Sapere (v.), although negatively inserted into the Enlightenment war cry, to this day remains anchored in Greek, Jewish, Christian thought as the thread linking successive sources of Europe’s spiritual tradition of being “wise” or “knowing.” Morality was preserved in the lives of a Sapiens who singularly could make a great difference to the world by exercising his moral power so much so that the wise person becomes unconquerable in the world through understanding the laws of nature and following the Stoic ethical principles [p. 57]. Sapiens and Sthitaprajna advances the conversation with the classics at a time of waning general humanities curriculum. As, W. T. De Bary, author of The Great Civilized Conversation wrote, no other approach than studying the classics and the perennial questions will give us a clearer sense of direction for value judgments that have been informed by the experience of the best minds of the past and the best way to do this is to have engaged them in conversation (2).
(1) Rosemont Jr., Henry. (2015). Against Individualism: A Confucian Rethinking of the Foundations of Morality, Politics, Family, and Religion. Lexington Books. London. Pg. 21
(2) http://www.neh.gov/about/awards/national-humanities-medals/william-theodore-de-bary
Purchase at: https://www.amazon.com/Sapiens-Sthitaprajna-Ashwini-Mokashi/dp/8124609632/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=ashwini+mokashi&qid=1572275341&s=books&sr=1-1

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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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