Attention, the Brain, and the President

“Attention” has been in the news more than usual lately. Among the many mental features of President Trump written about every day is his short attention span. Besides the obvious issue in taking in the necessary inputs to confront the complex problems that merit his action, inability to pay attention is a sign of how his brain works. Attention is name for the complex processes by which the brain takes in and processes inputs from the senses. Attention determines what kind of world shows up and, consequently, how we act and the kind of person we are seen to be. According to Iain McGilchrist in The Master and his Emissary:… Read More

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Bulls, Deniers, and Pragmatism

I am just back from this trimester’s last intensive weekend of the Marlboro College Graduate MBA in Managing for Sustainability. I had an opportunity to spend a long, pleasant evening with Ron Nahser, who came to deliver one of the classes. Ron was formerly Provost or some other senior official at the Presidio MBA program, one of the few like ours. We spent much of the time talking about pragmatism, a favorite subject of his, and a new and active interest of mine. I have been thinking about the importance of pragmatism to sustainability. I believe it is central and essential. I also have been reading in anticipation that I… Read More

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Seeing Nature’s Design in Snow

I came down to Washington DC yesterday to visit family and go to a Bat Mitzvah, and figured I would leave my blog alone for a few days. An epic storm changed my plans. Here we are Saturday noon and it is still coming down. I haven’t seen anything like this since the Blizzard of 78 up in Boston. It looks we are stuck in the house until, hopefully, Monday when I am due to return. The photo shows a big broken branch resting on my daughter’s car. Yesterday the grocery stores looked like an army of looters had swept through with many shelves completely devoid of anything. Nothing much… Read More

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Happy to Be Teaching Again

This weekend, I’m back at Marlboro College teaching in their MBA in Managing Sustainability Program. It’s the end of the journey for the first cohort to enter the program two years ago. I listened to five of the group present their capstone project reports.One of their cohort is over in Copenhagen and presented her work earlier. Now this is not MIT where I taught for some time before retiring, but the quality of the work was quite on par with many of the Master’s students I worked with while I was there. What I learned in a short time working with this program, and earlier with a similar program at… Read More

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Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall

This time of year in New England is full of contrasts. One day the leaves are green and the next bright red. We are up in Maine for the last time until next May. Yesterday when I put my boat to bed for the winter, the ocean simply glittered and the air was crisp as a Macintosh apple (A real one). It was one of those days that makes leaving so hard. Today it has been pouring without a constant stream. The dampness permeates everything. Our cottage can’t hold its own against a combination of late autumn cold and downpours. Days like this soften the sadness and ease the closing… Read More

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Sustainability at the Academy of Management

I am away from Maine for a few days to attend the meeting of the Academy of Management (AOM). For the uninitiated, the Academy is the Pantheon of business school faculties. The annual meeting is a big gathering, attracting over 7000 attendees. This year is special because the Academy has chosen sustainability as its theme. This in itself is a big deal as sustainability and its predecessor, environmental management, have long struggled to get out of the academic closet. One of my former students, Andy Hoffman, had a major role in headlining this subject and organizing the sessions for the entire audience. Most of the sessions are organized by the… Read More

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Still in Lisbon

Still in Lisbon, but winding down. Our industrial ecology conference has to be scored as a success, at least based on all the wonderful Portuguese hospitality and food and wine. Lots of the latter substance. For all of you that attend professional society meetings, you know how they go. A few gems that make attending worthwhile. Making new and seeing old friends, as usual, turns out to have the highest value. As I mentioned, the theme of the conference is transitions to sustainability. The keynoters have been very interesting. The meeting opened with a report by Leith Sharp, who, until very recently, managed the Harvard University sustainability program. This program… Read More

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(Re-)living & Loving Lisbon Life

As I may have mentioned earlier, I am spending some time in Lisbon at a conference of the International Society for International Ecology. My wife and I added a few days at both ends to reacquaint ourselves with Lisbon where we spent 6 months back in 1999. I had a Fulbright to teach here. Much of the City seems the same, including the pickpockets that lifted a camera and wallet from my wife’s purse yesterday. I like that sameness, except for the aforementioned incident, as I always found the life here closer to flourishing than that back home. The streets are always full of people, shopping, working, or just having… Read More

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Off to Lisbon

After weeks of hiding behind the clouds, the sun has decided to show up. Just as we are about to leave for Portugal. This trip will give me a good chance to catch up with my colleagues from Europe, Asia and elsewhere in the world. Their concerns about the state of the world tend to be much the same as what I hear in the US, but their responses tend to be different. Industrial ecology, the subject of the conference I will be attending, has had more influence in the rest of the world. The concept of extended producer responsibility, a form of the polluter pays principle, is rooted in… Read More

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