Entries in "values"

July 24, 2007

addressing unfair compensation in US companies

What were the managers at Goodyear Tire and Rubber thinking, when they continued to keep Lilly Ledbetter's salary lower than her 15 other peers, who were also front-line supervisors doing the same work, for years and years and years?

Apparently, they were thinking that the government would be on their side, because Ms. Ledbetter had not smelled the rat quickly enough. She did not receive any hints from coworkers until late in her career that she was not receiving fair compensation.

A jury found evidence of pay discrimination, and awarded Ledbetter back pay and damages. Goodyear appealed that judgment and it was reviewed this year by the United States Supreme Court, where it was overturned on a technicality by a 5-4 vote. The majority justices were Alito, Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas.

On June 20, CA representative George Miller introduced a bill to remove that technicality for all future workers; it has already been approved by the House Education and Labor committee. His cosponsors in the House of Representatives included Andrews, Berkley, Capps, Clarke, Davis of IL, DeLauro, Farr, Hinjosa, Hirono, Hoyer, Kucinich, Loebsack, Maloney, McCarthy of NY, McCollum, McDermott, Nadler, Norton, Sanchez of CA, Shea-Porter, Slaughter, Van Hollen, and Woolsey. A press release from the Education and Labor Committee last month provides more details about the bill.

On July 22, MA Senator Edward Kennedy introduced the bill in the Senate as well. Cosponsors of the bill include Senators Boxer, Clinton, Dodd, Durbin, Harkin, Leahy, McCaskill, Murray, Mikulski, Obama, Snowe, Spector, Stabenow, and Whitehouse.

If your district representative and senator are not both on those lists, then I join with Law Blogger David S. Cohen in urging you to call the congressional members for your district and state to urge passage of the bill. If you happen to run across a chance to ask any other presidential candidate a question, ask them where they stand regarding pay discrimination -- with employers in covering up, or with employees in seeking protection within a reasonable time period after learning about potential discrimination.

More information about the case and the proposed law is available at CorrectTheCourt, along with an easy web form for contacting your legislators. Of course, a phone call or "snail mail" letter may have more impact than a form-based email.

Kudos for Lilly Ledbetter for continuing to combat injustice and to stand up for future generations who might face unfair compensation in US companies.

June 19, 2007

competing in the war for talent

Susan Cantrell has written an insightful article in the latest Sloan Management Review highlighting four rules for retaining desirable employees in this age of tight competition among employers for knowledge workers and service professionals. Worth a read! I especially like her points about making HR policies more flexible, though of course that can always raise suspicions among employees about a lack of equity.

June 14, 2007

work and life as two balls....

... one of rubber, one of glass. A great metaphor, from Sandra Pianalto, in her speech to the graduating class at John Carroll last month:

Imagine that in one hand you hold a rubber ball and in the other hand you hold a beautiful fragile glass ball. The rubber ball represents your work life. The fragile glass ball represents your personal life - your family, your health, your friends.

What happens if you drop the rubber ball? It will bounce. Someone will pick it up for you, or it will just stay put until you are able to pick it up again.

But if you drop the glass ball, it may smash into a million pieces. If you are lucky, it will only crack - but either way, it will never be the same again.

Don't allow your justifiable concern with your career to cause you to drop the precious ball that represents your family, your friends, and your health.

I want to end today by wishing you, our graduates, not just a successful career, but a successful life. Take a few risks - bounce that rubber ball if you need to. Learn from everyone you meet. Be kind. And be happy. Do these simple things, and we will all be astonished by what you accomplish.

June 13, 2007

Handbook of Transformative Cooperation: New Designs and Dynamics

Our handbook (which I co-edited with Ron Fry and David Cooperrider) is to be released next week, according to its Amazon listing. (The other good news is that Amazon is quoting a price almost 30% off Stanford University Press' list price.)

Here is a list of chapters and contributors:

Continue reading "Handbook of Transformative Cooperation: New Designs and Dynamics"

June 11, 2007

let 2008 be the summer when unpaid FMLA ends

I just came across a post I made a little over a year ago, which I rather grandiosely entitled "let this be the century when sexism ends." Similarly, I hope that next summer, the 15th anniversary of the original Family and Medical Leave Act, will be the summer when we see the act revised so that all working Americans are protected from job loss if they need to take time off because of temporary health issues, or to care for others with health issues. Why are so few Americans protected by this important act? Read this poignant first-person reporting by Margaret Lowry to learn the basics.

In 2004, California implemented a statewide improved version of the FMLA, which provides partially paid leave for the first six weeks of a medical or family leave of absence from work. The California Family Medical Leave Research Project at UCLA has documented some of the benefits of this expansion of protection, although the scholars are troubled at how few workers are aware of their new rights. The report also documents the high number of workers who needed to take a leave before the new CA law went into effect, and were unable to do so, because of the financial consequences of taking even a short unpaid leave.

In December, the Department of Labor issued a request for comments on the FMLA, and received many responses. The National Coalition to Protect Family Leave presents many arguments in favor of strengthening the law. Some businesses argue that the law is already too broadly applied, and ask the government to support limitations on who can be approved for leave -- see this article in the San Antonio Express-News online.

Sherrod Brown serves on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety. I certainly hope that he has some interns at work on analyzing the comments received at the Department of Labor. It would be wonderful to see a well-reasoned revision to the original 1993 FMLA act introduced in congress in the coming months. Perhaps before its 15th birthday arrives, the act could be given the gift of meaningful power to help all workers who need to take leave for serious health issues or to care for others dealing with serious health issues.

April 09, 2007

discussing race in the region and the nation

This Thursday, as part of Case's fifth annual Research ShowCase, I will be attending a panel discussion from 10:30 - noon on "Race and the Nation" which includes a nationally prominent speaker, five panelists (three MDs, two PhDs, and one DDS), and a great moderator -- Dee Perry, from WCPN.

There are several other interesting panel sessions on Wednesday afternoon and throughout the day on Thursday, and all events in the showcase are free an open to the public! Please join us, at the Veale Convocation Center, accessible from Adelbert Road near the University Circle RTA station.

March 19, 2007

changing family dynamics? demand for flexible work increasing?

I commented last month on the push for workplace flexibility among fathers, and whether it is actually occurring or not. This morning, I found an entire issue addressing motherload, the overload that mothers face, in the American Prospect. (This is not a magazine that I normally read -- does anyone know something about it?)

The issue includes articles by Scott Coltrane (What about fathers?) and by Linda Hershman, What a Load, who indicts our nation's lack of progress in gender equity, and lays the blame firmly at the feet of fathers, who she says are getting a free pass.

Continue reading "changing family dynamics? demand for flexible work increasing?"

November 20, 2006

Concern for the triple bottom line: From margins to center

On Saturday, I participated in a conversation about how to strengthen locally-owned businesses and deal with the challenges represented by national chain competition. (I invited my blog readers to participate in Unchained America day, which was the reason that the conversation at Phoenix Coffeehouse on Lee Road took place.)

One of the assertions I made during that conversation was that the values of the Millennial generation suggest that they are going to care more about the social and environmental impact of the businesses where they shop and work. This press release outlines the results of a survey supporting my assertion. Here's a quote:

"66% will consider a company's social/environmental commitment when deciding whether to recommend its products and services."

Another piece of data, more anecdotal, would be the article about giving circles like the Cleveland Colectivo, which I believe is made up of Millennials and some younger Generation Xers.

Want more background on the Millennial generation?


I would be curious for any suggestions about where to find information on the positions of millenials regarding their preferences for shopping at, or working in, local vs. corporate businesses.

November 10, 2006

a noble profession

Which is the most noble of professions? Certainly, medicine is a top contender -- and one of the reasons is the Hippocratic Oath. In the next 100 years, though, it's possible that management will give medicine "a run for its money", so to speak. Here's a quote from my colleague, Julia Grant:

"all business schools are under an imperative to try to get better at teaching strong ethics, at teaching strong business values that do have to do with creating a better world. Business cannot be just about profit."
(from Peter Krouse's October 28 article in the Plain Dealer, "Honor among managers")

The dean of Thunderbird, the Garvin School of International Management, told the story of Thunderbird's new oath during the BAWB conference in Cleveland last month. Some are skeptical about the ability of a voluntary oath taken by students at one management school to change the practices of managers around the world. Normally, I'm known for my skepticism. In this instance, though, I believe it's more important to match the high intent of those students with practical actions which will reinforce their intent.

I'm lining up beside those recent Thunderbird graduates who signed their oath, and beside any Weatherhead students who will draft and then sign our own version. I will do whatever I can to make management practice more ethical, day by day, so that we can truly say, 100 years from now, that management is a noble profession.

September 09, 2006

vacation role model

Jim Twohie gave an interesting commentary on how little Congress works, and how much we work in America. (He was the Fresh Look speaker last night on the CBS evening news -- you can read or view his comments on the CBS website.) He names Johnny Carson his vacation role model.

Do you have a vacation role model? What helps you find a balance between the American work ethic and the French rest ethic?

September 03, 2006

employers vs. women, or employers supporting working families?

Equal rights for women have come a long way in the United States, since the Declaration of Independence over 240 years ago. Even in the 86 years since the ratification of the 19th amendment to the constitution, inequities between men and women have narrowed. No longer are women expected to quit their jobs when they marry, or when they become pregnant. Between 1960 and 1999, the percentage of of working mothers with infants had risen from 27 percent to almost 60 percent. And yet, huge inequities between mothers and other workers, and among women of different backgrounds still exist.

In an effort to draw attention to such inequities, last year WorldWIT initiated the Breastfeeding at Work Week, which highlights actions employers can take to level the playing field for mothers and others in the workforce, and encourage new mothers to continue breastfeeding their infants after they return to work. Since I am a strong advocate for breastfeeding, and for supporting working women in equitable ways, I am writing this blog entry as my first effort to honor Breastfeeding at Work Week for 2006.

Perhaps you have read about some of the challenges that mothers who wish to continue breastfeeding face, when they return to work. Recently, Jodi Kantor wrote in the New York Times about the differences between new mothers in white collar and working class jobs in terms of their access to support for pumping breastmilk at work. Kantor noted that "federal law offers no protection to mothers who express milk on the job", despite the efforts of Congressional Representative Carolyn Maloney, who has repeatedly introduced legislation which would create such a protection.

Why wouldn't Congress want to protect a woman's health after childbirth, and specify that new mothers who return to the workplace must be protected from harrassment? Read on for some historical background, and some predictions for the future.

Continue reading "employers vs. women, or employers supporting working families?"

September 01, 2006

food for thought

NB: This blog entry was redistributed with permission in the CoolCleveland eNewsletter, also available online.

Yesterday I attended Convocation, drawn by the promise of ritual and the prospect of hearing Michael Ruhlman, author of Case's Common Reading for this year, speak. He wrote The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection more than 5 years ago, and so I hoped that his speech would go beyond the book into more elaborated thinking about what it takes to become an expert in one's chosen field. He did not disappoint.

He addressed head-on a criticism he has probably heard many times about his writing on cooking: Isn't it frivolous to write about fancy food in a time when there is so much serious stuff happening in world politics? His answer started with this assertion:

"Great cooking, in the end, has such power because it allows us to connect with our past, our future, and all of humanity, if we let it. I believe that America's insatiable appetite for food and cooking know-how is really the beginning of a spiritual quest for the bigger things: a search for meaning, order and beauty in an apparently chaotic and alienating universe."

President Eastwood looked quite comfortable listening to Ruhlman's speech up until that point, but when Ruhlman made his next main point, suggesting that sharing what he learned about master chefs brought into relief how all of America has become a culture of mediocrity, the President started to look a little nervous...

Continue reading "food for thought"

July 08, 2006

what is an organization?

David Pollard says it is "an instrument for doing something a particular way."

This is a great definition, very similar to the one I use in my introductory classes in organizational behavior. (I talk about an organization as a group of three or more people, working toward a common goal or set of goals, in a consciously coordinated way, on a more-or-less continuous basis.)

Pollard goes on with a provocative argument:

Organization does not mean order or structure. When we say "let's get organized" we are not saying let's decide how to structure ourselves, we're saying let's make ourselves an instrument to do something specific. The fact that the first step in so many new organizations is establishing a hierarchy shows how well we've been brainwashed to believe that 'anarchic' self-management is impossible, when it is the natural order. This is perhaps why Open Space is so subversive and unaccepted in the political and corporate mainstream -- if frees people from the false belief that they need someone else to impose order and structure on them in order to be an effective organism, an instrument of action.

What do you think? Can groups of people organize themselves organically, without hierarchy? Do you question that assumption that self-management is impossible in larger groups, or do you accept it unthinkingly? Do you believe that you can be effective outside of an authority structure imposed by others?

Be sure to click through and read the rest of Pollard's entry on the meaning of words, including community, family, freedom, and wisdom.

June 30, 2006

book in development: impacts of gender equity

I just read my copy of the newsletter for the Gender, Diversity, and Organizations division of the Academy of Management, which mentioned a very interesting new book which is in the development stages. It's called Living Life: Stories of Women, Men and Changing Roles in the 20th Century. The premise of the project is that stories about the progress of gender equity need to be told so that we can both cherish and protect these gains.

Click through on the book title to read more! There is an online survey that you can complete to share your stories with the project directors.

April 26, 2006

reinventing jobs, careers, and the w

"Reinventing Jobs, Careers, and the World of Work"

It's a good sign when three posts emerge in the same morning of blog reading, all ready to be packaged up in a theme. It probably indicates that all the cultivation I have been doing of online relationships -- reading blogs, adding some to my Bloglines so I can read them again later, commenting, making my own posts -- is starting to yield fruit for intellectual enjoyment.

Click through to read on if you'd like to learn more about Diane at Zaadz, Miriam Peskowitz, and David Pollard, and how the different social movemnts they help to advance are converging.

Continue reading "reinventing jobs, careers, and the w"

April 10, 2006

how do you track your progress toward your goals?

No time for part 2 of the Anne Lamott blog today -- sorry. Things are humming in my life, but I'm hoping to find time tomorrow to write up my thoughts, before the vividness of the experience fades!

In the meantime, let me briefly mention that I have been experimenting lately (as you can see from the righthand column of my blog) with an online service called 43 things. On Thursday I will introduce it to my students in class, as a way of helping them to make sense of why the plans they set up for themselves last December may not have worked as intended -- and of helping them to stay focused on their goals, keep track of their progress, and give themselves credit for their accomplishments.

I really like the 43things system, even though it's less structured than a Getting Things Done approach or a Covey Seven Habits approach. For students who are online all the time, often from different computers, I think that using this kind of organizing might work even better than keeping a paper planner.

I'd be curious to learn how my readers track progress toward their goals.

  • Do you use a paper planner?
  • Do you keep your calendar on your computer?
  • Is it online so that you can access it from several different computers?
  • Or do you sync your computer with a Palm or other handheld, or with a cellphone or something?
  • How do you schedule things into your planner in a way that allows you to give priority to important but not always urgent tasks?
  • When you feel yourself getting into a cycle of fighting fires, how do you choose to respond so that you retain a sense of efficacy?

April 08, 2006

A spiritual experience in Amasa Stone Chapel - part 1

The first thing I did after dropping my daughter off at preschool on Friday morning was to drive to Borders to pick up copies of the books by Anne Lamott, which I hoped to have her sign after her keynote appearance at the end of Case's Humanities Week. All day I was giddy with anticipation.

I walked over to the chapel just before 3:30, and as a Case community member I was allowed to enter. I was chagrined to discover that they had books for sale in the vestibule, and had worked with Joseph-Beth to arrange these sales. I knew that I was going to need to do penance for spending money on Anne's books at a "non-independent" bookstore... and sure enough, during her conversation with Tim Beal, Anne reminded us more than once to go look someone up at Amazon, but buy our books from an independent bookstore. In penance, I'm posting a link to this about.com listing of independent bookstores in Cleveland, which includes my favorites, Appletree books and Mac's Backs. I promise to buy all the books that Anne recommended during her visit, and to buy them from one of these stores.

(click through to read more)

Continue reading "A spiritual experience in Amasa Stone Chapel - part 1"

April 07, 2006

more musings on role models, in fiction and in history

The twelfth Carnival of the Feminists is up at Ragnells (ah, I mean, Star Sapphire's) blog, called Written World. It includes a link to my earlier post on Kim Possible and Wonder Woman (and ElastiGirl), along with several other posts on the same theme...

Continue reading "more musings on role models, in fiction and in history"

April 02, 2006

a song for a hopeful spring Sunday

Today at the UUSC, we sang this beautiful lyric by Lloyd Stone (1934) to the melody of "Finlandia" which was originally written by Jean Sibelius in 1899:

This is my song, Oh God of all the nations,
A song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my sacred shrine.
But other hearts in other lands are beating,
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

Continue reading "a song for a hopeful spring Sunday"

April 01, 2006

female role models, then and now

When I think back to the influences that made me into a feminist, one of my first memories is of watching Wonder Woman with my younger sister. (We never read the comic strip series but watched the tv series which starred Lynda Carter. In case you want to estimate my age, let me out myself -- I was ten when this show finished production.) I still remember running around the backyard pretending that I had bullet-deflecting armbands and could protect the world from bad guys. All too quickly, though, I learned that not even quick wits and a sharp tongue could always protect us from the painful criticisms that teenagers can inflict on one another.

Now, my daughter watches Kim Possible, and I've noticed that the message being sent about what it takes to be a "super woman" has not changed that much over the years.

Continue reading "female role models, then and now"

February 21, 2006

problem solvers wanted

In a faculty meeting yesterday, one of my colleagues argued that we could measure our degree of success in developing our students' skill levels by assessing the difference in their salaries before they entered a degree program and after they left. He asked a rhetorical question, something along the lines of this: "Isn't anything we do that will have value for students going to get translated into more money for them after they leave here?"

I could not help myself. I bellowed, from the last row, "NO!"

I feel quite strongly that an MBA is not just a ticket to corporate success. It should also be a ticket to superior problem-solving skills, and an understanding of how businesses can be used as vehicles for solving world problems. When I ask my students what their top 5 values are, relatively few of them say "getting rich"... most of them talk about things like honoring their family, enjoying time with friends, and pursuing meaningful achievements. The value of our degree programs must lie in the extent to which we develop the skills that students need to live noble lives, acting in accord with their values.

James Cascio at Worldchanging makes an impassioned argument that environmentalists need to be working on solving the poverty problem, and I would argue that businesspeople should be working with them. CK Prahalad argues in "The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid" that pulling those in poverty out and into a class of entrepreneurial consumers is the next great challenge for business. I would argue that pulling all of us into the status of sustainable producers and consumers is fundamental to the question of whether our global society will remain healthy, or implode within my daughter's lifetime.

CK Prahalad's book argues that working at the bottom of the pyramid is profitable. I'd assert that even if it yields lower lines of financial return than other types of work, it's still worth pursuing. There are more important things in life than making more money, and solving the problems of poverty and environmental degradation are two of those most important tasks for my generation and those that follow.

More information about companies pursuing this strategy is available here and here and here, and I'd appreciate receiving links to other similar collections of information, as well.

February 20, 2006

Global Discover Contest

The Weatherhead School of Management’s Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit (BAWB) has partnered with Net Impact to develop the Global Discover Contest, which invites people to offer suggestions on new ways for business to live in mutual benefit with the earth’s ecosystems and world’s societies. The deadline is April 1. Learn more at this URL.

December 16, 2005

My research focus

For the record:

My work centers on how relationships enable productive organizational and social change.

I have published seven peer-reviewed papers connected to this overarching interest, and in the next year or so two books of contributed chapters will appear which I edited with colleagues.

The most significant papers include the following:

Ashford, Susan J.; Rothbard, Nancy P.; Piderit, S. K.; & Jane E. Dutton. 1998. “Out on a limb: The role of context and impression management in issue selling.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 43(1): 23-57. Citations tracked by scholar.google.com.

Bilimoria, Diana & S. K. Piderit. 1994. “Board committee membership: Effects of sex-based bias,” Academy of Management Journal, 37(6): 1453-77. Citations tracked by scholar.google.com.

Piderit, S. K. 2000. “Rethinking resistance and recognizing ambivalent attitudes toward organizational change: A multidimensional view.” Academy of Management Review, 25: 783-794. Citations tracked by scholar.google.com.

Solow, Daniel; Vairaktarakis, George; Piderit, S. K.; & Ming-chi Tsai. 2002. “Managerial insights into the effects of interactions on replacing members of a team.” Management Science, 48(8): 1060-1073. Citations tracked by scholar.google.com.

It appears that I may get my ticket punched to play another round in the publish-or-perish game. So now it's up to me to decide whether to ante up for the next hand of cards, or to fold, cash in my chips, and find another game to play.

What'd'ya think, folks, should I try to remake my good-ole Cal Ripken self into a Jim Thome? And can I do it without moving to Philly?

August 03, 2005

Education is a human right and we have community responsibilities

Two pieces combined to strike a mournful chord in a minor key as I read this morning's Plain Dealer. The first was the front-page headline, Cleveland voters reject school levy, and the second was an op-ed piece on page B9, Just enough cash to live opulently (which was reprinted from the Scripps-Howard News Service, with the original headline "Forbes' working stiff and his millions" and written by Paul Campos at the University of Colorado.

The first piece explains that with a pitifully low turnout (11 percent of registered voters) a small number of West Side voters who opposed the school levy drowned out the voices of Cleveland's schoolchildren and their needs. The reason given? They did not receive notice from the levy campaign of the reasons for requesting the levy. MaryBeth understands, but I'm not feeling that charitable this morning. Did none of those opposed voters consider purchasing a Plain Dealer at any point in the past month? Or visiting a local public library and reading it for free? Did any of them calculate how much it would cost to mail campaign materials to every household in the city of Cleveland, and compare that with the paltry budget for the campaign? Since when do people need an engraved invitation in order to vote in favor of a public good? Yep, you can tell, I'm really ranting and raving about this.

According to article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages." But apparently we have been neglecting teaching this value to enough Clevelanders that now, only 15,008 of them were willing to take the time to go to the polls and vote "yes" on the 8 mill levy. Without the revenue from the levy, the school board will need to address a projected $30 million deficit for next year.

How can this be? Well, the second piece may help to explain things. Paul Campos comments on a Forbes magazine article which calculates what it would cost to live in comfortable opulence in different US cities (such as Columbus, Ohio. Professor Campos criticizes the article authors for assuming that individuals at this enviable standard of living would only dedicate 1 percent of their income to savings, and for omitting all federal taxes and charitable donations from its calculations. Perhaps it's unfair to criticize Forbes for this one article. After all, they also publish items like this -- the most powerful women humanitarians. Still, it's hard to find those kinds of pieces amidst Forbes' overwhelming emphasis on financial wealth. Furthermore, Forbes definitely seems to be aiding and abetting the individuals in our society which is increasingly dominated by values that seem to have more to do with "keeping up with the Joneses" (or with the Gateses) than with fulfilling their community responsibilities. I share Professor Campos' concern that our society is overly materialistic, with the effect of transforming "human beings into talking monkeys -- that is, creatures who are genuinely satisfied to live lives dedicated to acquiring an endless stream of shiny new toys." There should be more to life than the pursuit of comfortable affluence.

My response to the despair I felt when I read the headline about Cleveland's failed school levy is to commit to action. If the best I can do is to find a local charitable equivalent to DonorsChoose (which concentrates its efforts in other cities, although they are currently engaged in a matching funds drive which will allow them to commit to further expansion), then that's what I'll do. If I can find the time to volunteer, then I will, even if it means that I'm spending less time at my daughter's private preschool. (We donate to the scholarship fund there as well.)

I may not be willing or able to live like Paul Farmer right now, but I will do what I can to demonstrate my belief that education is a human right, and we have community responsibilities to support public education. If you have suggestions for how I might act on my convictions, will you please let me know?

August 02, 2005

Deye mon gen mon

"Deye mon gen mon" is Haitian saying which translates as "beyond mountains there are mountains" and the saying is explained in this way: "as you solve one problem, another problem appears, and so you go on and try to solve that one too."

Mountains Beyond Mountains is a book by Tracy Kidder which tells the story of Paul Farmer, a doctor who works at Harvard and the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and at Zamni Lasante, a clinic he founded in the mountains of Haiti.

This book was selected as a common reading for the Case community for the coming academic year, the fourth year of our common reading program. My colleagues selected this book to inspire, I am sure; Case is involved in a variety of ways in fighting poverty and disease, and recently won a multi-million-dollar grant to do research on fighting tuberculosis, and there is much work left to be done. First-year students were invited to submit essays in response to several prompts, and upperclass students were invited to address equally tough questions.

I will be taking the book with me on vacation for a slow rereading, since it was almost too intense to absorb on my first read, back in June. [I did eventually write up an answer to an essay question; see my post from several months after this one, on my areas of moral clarity.]

By the way, this idea of a common reading is not Case's innovation. Duke students were invited to read the same book last summer, and this year Case students will be joined in spirit by members of the LaRoche College community in Pittsburgh, by campus residents at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and by first-year students at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, among others.

July 18, 2005

internet soap operas and academic integrity

I have not been involved in new student orientation this year, for the first time in several years, and it feels strange to be denying myself the pleasure of advising incoming first-year undergraduates about course selections. So it is that I learned by reading my RSS feed of Planet Case that incoming students like Colin Slater are being introduced both to Blog@Case and to conversations about academic integrity by watching tv or movie excerpts (48 Hours for Colin, and Cheaters for one of the other new students who commented on Colin's post).

I came across Colin's post on Saturday, and when I came back to it this morning, it was after reading this old Wired article from May 1997 about the internet soap opera that was the early years of the WELL. The article is looooong, with hints of the essence of more recent internet phenomena like Meetup, Livejournal, and delicious, and it made me long for the same kind of rich insider history to be written about the Cleveland Freenet, which was a part of my online initiation back in the late 80s when I was a Case undergraduate. (There's a brief history of CFN here.) What I realized is that the history of another online community is being made as you read and comment -- the history of Blog@Case, which allows a management professor to welcome a new freshman to campus without even meeting him in person.

One of the premises of the early life of the WELL community is that electronic conversation flows better when the people engaging in the conversation online occasionally meet in person also. I hope that Colin and I will run into one another on campus sooner or later... we might discuss academic integrity, or what it takes to make a healthy blog community. Perhaps he'll share his opinion on Bruce Katz's statement (commenting on his firing of a prominent WELL employee) that "I do not believe that everyone knowing everything about everyone is a necessary condition for community." I expect that the incoming class of 2009 can teach older generations like mine a fair amount about the finer points of participating in the blogosphere and other online communities.

I am pleased to learn that we are introducing our newest students to the principles of academic integrity via a conversation, rather than a simple statement of expectations. This choice makes clear that there is more to academic integrity than avoiding plagiarism or cheating. It suggests that students are our partners in upholding a key value of our academic community -- the value of honoring the contributions that others make to our learning, by giving credit to them for the ideas they have authored, and not claiming authorship for ideas that are not our own. I hope that students will also learn that part of demonstrating academic integrity is refraining from expressing ideas as your own if you do not actually believe them. Holding onto a dissenting opinion and elaborating on it in a constructive way is part of how knowledge grows... saying what you think the teacher wants to hear just to get a good grade is not.

June 30, 2005

the merits and drawbacks of laziness

Dave Pollard defends laziness and argues in favor of natural enterprises which do not require long work hours (while also criticizing corporate media for pandering to their audiences with bias). I found his argument shocking at first, so at odds with the Catholic values in which I was raised, which glorify hard work.

As I read his words again, though, I began to question those unspoken values. Why is it better to work long hours? There is more to life than a choice between hard work and idle hands. Relationship building takes time, and relationships must not only be built within work organizations, but all across the community. So, I invite you to read Dave Pollard's essay and consider the merits and drawbacks of laziness.