Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving

The Message of Interstellar, Birdman, and Dear White People

by • November 15th, 2014

Mentoring for the Earth, Utne Reader, Mar-Apr 2014, p. 70.

The declining ability to grow food foretells the end of humanity in Interstellar much as it does in actual climate science. Food doesn’t enter Birdman, and is only racialized in Dear White People. Now, stretch with me, will you?

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Peak Connectivity and Social Resilience

by • July 14th, 2013

What if we gamed Twitter?

The “intersection” in this blog entry on social resilience involves computer science and brain science. Combining the social aspect of resilience with the human-computer interface and education has potential to enhance sophisticated problem-solving around the globe. For instance, what if we gamed Twitter?

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Developing Leaders: Dynamics and Dilemmas

by • August 6th, 2011

Springfield youth were asked to come up with ONE WORD to describe everyone in their randomly assigned group.

A Taste of College:
Youth Leadership Development Retreat
Amherst MA
Whenever I work in teams, I always mention the significance of following. It is rare, however, to be able to carry that conversation forward. I hope this time is different. Following is something all good leaders do: they understand when to follow someone else’s idea […]

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ghosh on closure

by • July 1st, 2009

Sea of Poppies
Amitav Ghosh (2009: 391)

“It was not because of Ah Fatt’s fluency that Neel’s vision of Canton became so vivid as to make it real: in fact, the opposite was true, for the genius of Ah Fatt’s descriptions lay in their elisions, so that to listen to him was a venture of collaboration, in which the things spoken of came gradually to be transformed into artefacts of a shared imagining.”

Index: references to Ghosh in Reflexivity

talking turkey, making tools (US Thanksgiving with Fulbrighters and other Americans in Brussels, 2008, includes a quote from an essay by Ghosh on the perils of comparing the November terrorist attack in Mumbai to 9/11 in the US)
Comps (Question #4: “dissertation area”) (already two summers ago!)
The Hungry Tide (a beautiful and inspiring novel)
Ghosh on Interpreting (quotations from The Hungry Tide)
What Saar would teach (a quote from Ghosh that illustrates, by metaphor, the kind of discourse diagnostics that motivates my being)

Originally posted June 13, 2005

“I would produce my secret treasure, a present sent to me by a former student – a map of the sea-floor, made by geologists. In the reversed relief of this map [the students] would see with their own eyes that

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Push of Chang, Pull of Cronen

by • March 29th, 2008

A vigorous debate between two faculty members dominated conversation about Marc Crépon‘s “What We Demand of Languages,” an extended footnote to Derrida’s Monolingualism of the Other.

I had been worried about arriving late to the Center for Communication Studies event, however Briankle Chang and Vernon Cronen were deep in discourse, ranging from the mistake of theology (not a feature of all religions), the influence of the Platonic opening, Aquinas’ linkage of physics with the New Testament, to structuralism as the antidote to transcendentalism, and whether “topos” is a place that contains all topoi and all vocabularies or a place that can be talked about in infinitely many ways.
I always learn more from faculty interactions with each other than from monologistic pedagogy!
A colleague translated Crépon’s article from French. Srinivas Lankala explains:

“Crépon summarizes Derrida’s argument, provides references to the argument that Derrida did not provide, and extends the argument to new areas:

the question between what language is and what language means in terms of politics of nationalism or politics of identity
the definition of identity
the definition of the self

“One important thing called into question is the notion of a singular cultural identity: identity is formed in advance by language &emdash; the whole question of

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“the rift of difference”

by • December 25th, 2007

…the difference, according to Heidegger, is pain.

“Diviners,” writes Dennis Tedlock, “Stay close to ‘the rift of difference,’ as Heidegger calls it, even a small difference. They leave us between two points, or at both of them, and sometimes three.” (1983:254)

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more of this

by • October 6th, 2007

In keeping with Kenneth Burke’s mission to purify war, the use of social science to shift problem-solving from violence to conversation is a welcome development.
Burke says, “language… [is] the ‘critical moment’ at which human motives take form” (from GM 318, in Kenneth Burke: Rhetoric, Subjectivity, Postmodernism by Robert Wess).
Army Enlists Anthropology in War Zones, a feature story from the NYTimes, has demonstrated the “ability to understand subtle points of tribal relations,” enabling soldiers “to focus more on improving security, health care and education for the population.”
This kind of humanitarian army is the cooperation that our world needs. We must learn to eat with our enemies. Liberal leftists (I assume?) are criticizing the experimental military program for institutionalizing yet another way to coerce local peoples to accept occupation. My initial lean, however, is that the military does not “‘yet have the skill sets to implement’ a coherent nonmilitary strategy,” as explained by United Nations’ official Tom Gregg (download a Real Audio interview by CBC radio, June 2007). One of the critics, Roberto, J. González, might characterize himself as an empowered critic of western domination. He is of course correct that the military machines have

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researching the edges

by • October 1st, 2007

I have always felt that the action most worth watching is not at the center of things but where edges meet.

Anne Fadiman. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down.
1997. (Preface, p. viii.)
The Review linked above does criticize Fadiman for overromanticizing some aspects of Hmong culture, history, and customs; what reviewer Mai Na M. Lee calls “the bigger issues.” In particular, she criticizes Fadiman’s conclusion that Hmong are “differently ethical.” The phrasing itself is curious, requiring some serious parsing. The way I read the phrase, Fadiman is asserting that ethics are as foundational and valued among the Hmong as within any people. The use of “differently” (instead of the starker label of “different”) – refers to the ethics being performed or based “in a different manner.” It seems to me this opens up comparision on the basis of more, rather then less, similarity. Dr. Lee did not read the phrase this way, interpreting its meaning as more distancing (differencing?) than joining.
Dr. Lee has the benefit of context; I have not yet read that far. There is a Bakhtinian movement discernable here: the counterplay of centripetal and centrifugal forces in the utterances of

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by • May 27th, 2007

My stance vis-a-vis the UMass Amherst administration’s decision to grant an honorary degree to President Bush’s ex-chief-of-staff, Andrew Card, was pre-established before the event was known. I was hired to interpret the graduate commencement ceremony at least a month before the decision about Card was announced.
I witnessed the swell of protest activity from a distance, observing. I did sign the petition, but my active participation was constrained by my paid role, by my work. Of course, I could have done many things, and probably could have “gotten away” with many things – but to do so would have compromised the deep commitment of professional interpreters to provide linguistic accessibility in the most impartial way possible.
Still – the challenge of how consumed some quality planning time between my teammate and me. We were fortunate to be aware of the scope of the planned protest and thus were able to strategize effectively. It so transpired, therefore, that my partner interpreted what she could make out of speech concerning Card, and I interpreted the protesters chanting. A satisfactory, ethical, and impartial arrangement. In fact, the protest was so loud and persistent that audience members watching the

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“the end of Ordibehesht 1386”

by • April 25th, 2007

I had to ask my partner in crime about this. Strong Minor Bridge The Brilliant explains:
“Ordibehesht is a month in the Persian calendar, and 1386 is the current year (2007 in our Gregorian era). And Ordibehesht overlaps parts of our April and May. Ordibehesht ends on May 21 – so that’s “the end of Ordibehesht 1386.”
Yes, I’m still trying to get to Iran and isn’t it cool they use a solar calendar? 🙂

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