What are we?

Here’s a couple of questions for your Tuesday morning:

Are we anything more than the sum of our experiences?

If we were really good at measurement, and could quantify absolutely everything observable about you, would we then perfectly understand you?

The power of stories – a visit to Hollywood

The power of stories – a visit to Hollywood

Clint with DarthIt has been an incredible couple of days here in California (L.A. and San Francisco) — meeting with film makers, Hollywood media people (one man who has interviewed practically everyone famous you can imagine), an incredible speaking and meeting people at Berkeley and Stanford, and then to top it off with a visit to see the inside of George Lucas’ special effects studio — Industrial Light and Magic.Original R2D2

During the visit to this studio, my good friend (who recently won some awards for his work here), showed me some of the original props and special effects workings from movies as old as the original Star Wars, E.T., and Ghost Busters, to as new as Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Transformers II.

Other interesting notes and random thoughts…
“Who tells the stories of a culture really governs human behavior. It used to be the parent, the school, the church, the community. Now it’s a handful of global conglomerates that have nothing to tell, but a great deal to sell.” – George Gerbner

Plato said that if he had to choose between controlling the arts or the government, he would chose the arts. He said the government made the rules and enforce people to follow them — but that people willingly internalize and follow the arts.

George Lucas and Steven Spielberg — pirates.jpgnormal guys that met in or just after college. They did one thing extraordinarily well — learned how to tell compelling stories. They say George Lucas when a kid was what others might consider a nerd – nose in a book, addicted to science fiction.

World is changing, with technology that exists the barrier of entry is lower in having the power to tell stories and capture attention.

Which makes the following questions that much more urgent and essential:
– What impact have these movies had on your life, and on your culture?
– What stories do we want to tell, which frame our view of the world, of each other, and ultimately frame the future?
– In what ways does the new media influence the way that we can tell and receive stories?

Unique Course Offering: ICT4ID – Utilizing emerging technologies for inter-cultural/ inter-faith dialogue

Unique Course Offering: ICT4ID – Utilizing emerging technologies for inter-cultural/ inter-faith dialogue

Here is an intro video for the course I have been asked to teach beginning January 25th – April 9th, 2010:

ICT for Inter-cultural/Inter-faith Development (ICT4ID)
Bridging the West and the Middle East: A global classroom experienceMosque offered in conjunction with students at the University of Stockholm, Sweden; the Universities in Iran; Universities in Jordan; Universities in Finland & Denmark; Universities in the U.S. (Berkeley, Stanford, Columbia, Harvard, Yale, MIT, etc…)

The aim of this course is to explore and experience some of the unique capabilities of ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies) in helping to bridge people from different cultural/philosophical/religious backgrounds.

Similar to the ICT4D course I taught earlier this year, students from around the world will participate. In this case, top PhD and Masters students from “the West” (Europe and North America) and “the Middle East” (primarily Iran and Jordan) will work together on virtual teams to discover, collaborate, and create novel solutions to one of the key issues facing our generation — inter-cultural/ inter-faith collaboration. connecting The course will run January 25 — April 9th, and I will be coordinating it while traveling myself (mainly in Europe, U.S., and the Middle East).

We will be meeting through online conferencing software (e.g. Skype), deliver and receive content through ICT4D YouTube videos, online articles, and good-old-fashioned books, – receiving lectures from experts around the world, and discussing concepts through webinars, asynchronous discussion groups and blog conversations.

Questions to be addressed (3 categories): Questions

A – Understanding core issues

* What is really at the heart of existing tensions between people from different cultural/philosophical/religious backgrounds?
* Where have people effectively bridged those differences before, and what can we learn from them?

B – Using ICT to leverage solutions

* How can we help increase the quality of communication (using ICTs) between average people, locally and globally — regardless of race, nationality, or religion?
* How can we then utilize emerging technologies (and effective communication and collaboration principles) to translate meaningful interactions into proactive collaboration — encouraging and enabling joint inter-faith/inter-cultural actions?

C – Maximizing the impact of our participation in this course

* How can we utilize this course to learn from those who might have very AXIS LIVE LOGO Bluedifferent answers to these questions than we have (other students, experts, and normal people around the world), thus creating better solutions overall?
* How can the outputs of this course contribute to larger projects (e.g. AXIS Live) that outlive the term of the course itself?


Intended objectives/outcomes of the course:

1)**Find or create answers the above questions in a way img_1105.JPGbetter than anyone has yet:
(a) – Understanding core tensions, differences, and commonalities between people from different cultural/philosophical/religious backgrounds
(b)- Increasing our capacity to use emerging technologies to connect and collaborate in more wide-spread and productive ways than ever before

2)**Contribute to projects that outlive the course:
(a) – Co-author a chapter and/or article on this topic with others in the course, as well as
(b) – Contribute to the creation or enhancement of an online platform and/or interface that can be used for mutual understanding and meaningful collaborative engagement

The multi-disciplinary, multi-cultural nature of the participants who will img_1465.JPGmake up this course offer the opportunity for us to develop a richer understanding of the issues and contribute to creating effective solutions/applications which will continue to be applied beyond the term of the course itself.

This course has a limited enrollment, targeting top students from each of the participating institutions.

If you are interested in participating, please send an email stating: who you are, where you are from, where you live now, and why you would like to participate in this course to Dr. Clint Rogers (clint.rogers2008(at)gmail.com).

Course literature

Rosenberg , Marshall B, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, Arun Gandhi – 2003 – 242 pages

Reference literature

* Asante , Molefi Kete; Miike , Yoshitaka; Yin , Jing; The Global Intercultural Communication Reader
* Axelrod, Robert, http://www-personal.umich.edu/~axe/research_papers.html
* Axelrod, Robert, The Evolution of Cooperation, New York: Basic Books, 1984. 241 pp.
* Engdahl , F. William A CENTURY OF WAR (Pluto Press Ltd.)
* Green , Robert, 48 Laws of power, Joost Elffers, 2002
* Klare, Michael Rising Powers, Shrinking planet, Holt Paperbacks, March 2009
* McLean , Patricia; Ransom, Laurie; Building intercultural competencies: Implications for academic skills development, December 2004, http://www.isana.org.au/files/20051017165552_BuildingInterculturalCompetencies.pdf
* Pfeffer, Jeffrey, Management with Power, Politics and Influence in Organizations (Paperback), Harvard Business School, 1994, 08-758-4440-5.
* United Nations Cyber School Bus, http://www.un.org/cyberschoolbus/peace/frame.htm
* University of Jyväskylä, Introduction to Intercultural Communication, http://moniviestin.jyu.fi/vanhat/viesti/ics/6
* Ury, William, Getting past no, Amazon.com

Harlem Children’s Zone

Harlem Children’s Zone

Geoffrey Canada, social activistI just listened to an episode of NPR’s This American Life, that told the story of Harlem’s Children Zone. Founded by Geoffrey Canada, HCZ has the stated goal to eliminate poverty in Harlem for all children. Not a reasonable percentage – but all of them.

He starts with “Baby College,” where he teaches parents of infants and toddlers to say encouraging things to their children, and to not hit them.

He has developed a system of charter schools taking children from pre-K to high school graduation.

Combine this with community programs, outreach, social activism, he  does it all.

And it seems to be working.

(He even got the best of Stephen Colbert!)

Canada’s approach isn’t without controversy. Basically he has decided that he will help the children in Harlem but his programs will only indirectly help their parents. Contrary to many social programs, he is not assuming that he needs to raise families out of poverty before he can improve the children’s circumstances. Instead he assumes that giving the children a chance – even as they experience poverty now – will eliminate hardships for the generation that follows.

Part of me wonders if there isn’t a lesson in that. Does meaningful change require hard choices? If you are unwilling to take risks, even risks that might tear your heart out, are you also closing the door to the reward you’re hoping for?

Read up a little on Harlem Children’s Zone, then let us know what you think.