Monday, October 29, 2007

Why Design Matters ... in the Classroom

[28 October 2007 - Thinking 2.0] Dean Shareski has created a Design Matters Keynote for the 2007 Flat Classroom Project. This is a remix of his presentation for the K-12 Online Conference in which Shareski challenges the fact that “creativity and design are often seen as frivolous or at best icing on the cake of learning” and presents reasons why design is an integral part of effective communication. He gives specific techniques on how to improve design when it comes to using multimedia and technology so that projects are of excellent quality. More

17 Rules For Designers

[29 October 2007 - How Blog] Designer Stefan Mumaw (co-author of the wonderful creativity book Caffeine for the Creative Mind) just sent a list of 17 rules for designers compiled from suggestions he received in response to one of the creative challenges he emails to friends and colleagues every morning. More

Towers Perrin Study Finds Significant "Engagement Gap" Among Global Workforce

[22 October 2007] Study Draws Definitive Connection Between How Engaged Employees Are on the Job and Financial Performance: Report Also Highlights How Companies Can Begin to Bridge the Divide and Create More Engaged, High-Performing Employees ... Employees do not believe their organizations or their senior management are doing enough to help them become fully engaged and contribute to their companies' success, according to a new global workforce study conducted by Towers Perrin, a global professional services firm. Just 21% of the employees surveyed around the world are engaged in their work, meaning they're willing to go the extra mile to help their companies succeed. Fully 38% are partly to fully disengaged. The result is a gap -- which Towers Perrin has dubbed the "engagement gap" -- between the discretionary effort companies need and people actually want to invest and companies' effectiveness in channeling this effort to enhance performance. The study found that companies with the highest levels of employee engagement achieve better financial results and are more successful in retaining their most valued employees than companies with lower levels of engagement. More

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Positive Outlook Is Overrated

[22 October 2007 - NPR - This I Believe] Psychologist Barbara Held believes that there are many ways to cope with the pain of life. She says that -- no matter what the self-help books say -- people should feel free to be themselves, even if that means being negative. More

Friday, October 26, 2007

Creative Teaching

My mentor and colleague Berenice Bleedorn had a letter published in Edutopia magazine ...
[October 2007 - Edutopia, The Magazine of the George Lucas Education Foundation] LETTER: The story on the Alaskan school district ("Northern Lights," September 2007) was especially satisfying. At the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis/St. Paul, I introduced and taught creative studies in both education and business master's programs for seventeen years. The academic focus of my teaching was based on the work of E. Paul Torrance, a leading international authority on creative studies. In the article, it was clear that enlightened educators were bringing about curriculum and instruction Torrance tried to promote to the powers that be and to establish officially the system of creative teaching and learning that was finding favor with teachers all over the world. Much of the reform in educational practices that is surfacing independent of the bureaucratic establishment reflects the Torrance basics for education described in his publication The Incubation Model of Teaching.
Berenice Bleedorn
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

From Innovation to Advantage

[16 October 2007 - Harvard Business Online - Excerpted from "The Future of Management," by Gary Hamel with Bill Breen] Management innovation tends to yield a competitive advantage when one or more of three conditions are met: the innovation is based on a novel management principle that challenges some long-standing orthodoxy; the innovation is systemic, encompassing a range of processes and methods; and/or the innovation is part of an ongoing program of rapid-fire invention where progress compounds over time. More

Friday, October 19, 2007

Steven Dahlberg Among Case Foundation's Top 100 Finalists

[19 October 2007] The International Centre for Creativity and Imagination is pleased to announce that Steven Dahlberg's proposal -- on behalf of his Willimantic, Connecticut, community -- has been selected from nearly 5,000 grant applications as a Top 100 Finalist in the Case Foundation's "Make It Your Own" Awards program.The proposed project is for:
"Weaving a New Willimantic" ... A former thread-mill town weaves a new creative fabric -- where people's ideas matter, where we engage our creativity together and where we co-create our community's common good. We will use inclusive dialogue processes to coordinate current citizen-centered projects and to include more voices.
[18 October 2007 - Case Foundation] The Make It Your Own Awards is about people connecting with others in their community, forming solutions, and taking action. After receiving nearly 5,000 grant applications, our diverse team of reviewers has narrowed the pool down to 100 semifinalists. So, who made the cut? Check them out here. And coming soon, some exciting new tools that will allow you to offer input and spread the word about these great projects. More

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A place to call home: New residences planned for retirees who can't get enough of MIT

Often the "civic engagement" conversation focuses on how to involve more baby boomers in volunteering in their communities. However, the more important question is how to engage people of all ages in meaningful activity -- including volunteering, learning, politics, entrepreneurship, etc -- in their communities. Efforts such as these at MIT to maintain and engage the creative strengths and talents of its retirees is a great example of civic engagement, creative engagement, and creative community development. ...
[16 October 2007 - MIT News Office] Members of the Institute community who plan to stay involved in life at MIT after they retire have a new housing option, the University Residential Communities at MIT, located just blocks from the main campus. Tunney Lee, senior lecturer and professor of city planning, emeritus, and Jack Dennis (S.B. 1953, S.M. 1954, Sc.D. 1958), professor of computer science and engineering, emeritus, are among 36 people who have already reserved units in the Kendall Square residence, known as URC. Lee came to MIT in 1971 and retired in 1992. A specialist in urban planning for high-density settings, he taught in Hong Kong, then returned in 1999 to MIT, where he continues to teach two courses a year. Lee says he wants to remain close to what he calls an intellectually stimulating and challenging environment, one that has yielded many strong bonds of friendship. More

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

New Center for Creativity and Aging Inaugurated at Ithaca College

[8 October 2007 -  Ithaca College - Ithaca, New York] Giving new meaning to “retirement,” Martha Graham danced until she was 75, Picasso painted into his 80s, and Antonio Stradivari was making his world-famous violins at 92. In order to better understand and explore the relationship between creativity and aging, especially as it applies to the arts, Ithaca College will open the Linden Center for Creativity and Aging on Thursday, Oct. 11. Lasting from 5 to 6:30 p.m., the ceremonies will include remarks by President Peggy R. Williams and others, as well as a performance by an intergenerational jazz duo. Housed in the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute, the new center was established with an endowment from alumni couple Jay ’72 and Judith ’73 Linden.
“As life expectancies increase, Americans are increasingly expected to live active, stimulating lives into their golden years,” Jay Linden said. “Judi and I wanted to establish this center in the hope of encouraging interesting research on the relationship between the creative arts and an enhanced quality of life among older adults. We also think it’s important for students to understand the opportunities that the aging of the population creates for them in fields such as communications, business and health sciences.
“We wanted to establish the center at our alma mater because Ithaca College is uniquely suited for this enterprise,” Judith Linden added. “With its strong programs in music, theater, media and the arts, along with the distinctive strength of the Gerontology Institute, the college is well positioned to serve as a national resource for scholars, students and community partners to explore research and activities around creativity and aging.”
In addition to studying the impact of remaining vibrant while growing older, the Linden Center will develop community-linked programs involving elders exploring creative arts for the first time as well as engage students with elders through mentoring programs and other activities.
“Many people are now living into their 80s and 90s with reasonably good health,” said John Krout, professor of gerontology and director of the Gerontology Institute. “Because of this new demographic, we have a cultural imperative to explore and better understand how older people can continue to flourish creatively and remain engaged in and contribute to their communities. The Linden Center is unique because very few academic centers are engaged in studying creativity and aging with a focus on the humanities.”
The Gerontology Institute already has ways to engage elders and students together, Krout noted. Art shows featuring older artists, a comprehensive programmatic partnership with Longview that includes an Intergenerational Choir, and courses such as Creative Arts Methods for Older Adults are a few examples of the foundation the Linden Center will build on. Another exciting program is the Enduring Masters series, conducted jointly with the School of Music, which brings older musicians to campus to perform and give talks and master classes. The center will foster collaborations with local arts agencies to assist leaders, educators and performers in increasing the opportunities for would-be senior artists.
“There is a growing recognition among those who study aging that involvement in creative activities such as the arts can contribute significantly to well-being across a person’s life span,” said Krout. “The fact is, an older person doesn’t have to be Picasso to embark on new creative pursuits or continue lifelong creative endeavors. With the U.S. Census Bureau foretelling an enormous growth in the elder population by 2030, the Linden Center will be on the forefront of looking at the potential positive impacts of this historic national trend.”
Longtime advocates for Ithaca College, the Lindens have generously supported their alma mater since their graduation with several special gifts, including the Jay Linden Sales & Marketing Scholarship , and the Judi and Jay Linden Scholarship in Gerontology. Both are involved in creative fields themselves. Judith is the executive director of Midori & Friends, a nonprofit music education organization founded by the internationally renowned violinist Midori. Jay is executive vice president of NBC Universal’s Strategic Partnership Group, which works with advertisers to develop integrated media programs that address their key business objectives. More

Big Box Evaluator Website and Tool

[10 October 2007 - The Orton Family Foundation - Middlebury, Vermont] Announcing the release of a tool that helps you learn about the impacts of big box retail stores. ... The Orton Family Foundation enthusiastically announced its release of the Big Box Evaluator tool, designed to help communities and individuals learn about the impacts of big box retail stores.  The unbiased tool is designed not to take a stand on big box development, but to help citizens make informed decisions based on each community's specific characteristics and values. Available free to the public at, the web-based interface allows users to learn about commercial and retail development in general, but also to input specific information from their communities and receive customized reports on economics, values, planning and municpal services, and ways to improve the development process. Citizens in communities facing proposals for big box development can select the type of town that most closely resembles their own, and the type of development proposed (neighborhood store to large "supercenter").  Users can then enter specific information and personal values in four categories (Economy, Environment, Society, and Visual), ranging from expected tax revenues to amount of signalized intersection work required, runoff mitigation requirements to the importance of community character. The Big Box Evaluator creates a customized report for each user based on the specific inputs, with information like projected municipal costs and revenues, change in average wages, and annual price savings for family.  Users are also given a list of action items based on the input values, which store developers can consider in order to help meet the community's concerns. The Orton Family Foundation is a Colorado- and Vermont-based operating foundation supported by profits from the Vermont Country Store. More

Monday, October 08, 2007

Richard Florida's Spiky Creative Cities Linked to Creative Strengths

[8 October 2007 - Applied Imagination blog - By Steven Dahlberg, Editor] At the 2006 Gallup International Positive Psychology Summit, economist Richard Florida talked about his "world is spiky" theory and the clustering of creative people in particular cities and regions (thus the "spikes" when viewed on a 3D map).

University of Michigan psychologist Christopher Peterson had an a-ha moment during that speech and began to wonder whether character strengths matter to where you live. Peterson is a professor of psychology and has created a classification system for human strengths and virtues. He spearheaded the development of "Values in Action" (VIA), a key assessment tool from the positive psychology field for measuring character strengths.

Following Peterson's insight from the 2006 Summit, he and colleague Nansook Park examined the collected VIA responses (along with respondents' zip codes) and Richard Florida's creativity scores (based on talent, tolerance and technology of cities) to look at whether people who live in different cities (with more than 300,000 people) have different strengths of character. They reported their initial findings last week at the 2007 Gallup International Positive Psychology Summit:
  • There is a direct relationship between character strengths - such as appreciation of beauty, creativity, curiosity and a love of learning - and a city's creativity rating. These particular character strengths are individual-focused, head strengths.
  • There is an inverse relationship between character strengths and a city's creativity rating. That is, creative cities are low in the character strengths that connect people.
So, for instance, New York is high in creativity with creative people doing creative things. However, this creativity happens more individualistically and with a lower presence of the strengths that help people connect to each other. (How many times have we heard that the great metropolis of New York City is a lonely place, where it is difficult to meet people?) Peterson also said the more creative the city, the lower the presence of meaning and the greater the search for meaning.

Watch for the full paper about this coming from Peterson and Park.

Positive Psychology is Dead ...

[8 October 2007 - Applied Imagination blog - By Steven Dahlberg, Editor] Okay, positive psychology is dead as we've known it ... maybe. Martin Seligman, the father of the positive psychology movement, announced on October 5 that it's "no longer about positive psychology," but about "positive social science. ... this is the tent I'm after now."

Speaking at the Gallup International Positive Psychology Summit, Seligman described this as an epistemological and methodological shift that incorporates not only the psychology field's study of strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive, but also the study and practice of positive approaches in fields such as anthropology, economics, history, sociology, political science, among others.

He suggested that positive social science is made up of these five pillars, which focus on the good life, a life worth living, flourishing, and well-being:
  • Positive emotions, including engagement and happiness.
  • Positive traits, including strengths and virtues and pursuing excellence.
  • Positive relationships.
  • Meaning and purpose.
  • Accomplishment.
As Summit participants and others begin to consider this shift, some have suggested that positive psychology isn't so much a discipline unto itself, but an extension of other-related fields such developmental psychology, personality psychology, social psychology, behavioral psychology and creativity. Others have argued against the use of "positive" at all, favoring something that includes both negative and positive aspects of people's lives and behaviors - something more integrated or holistic.

All of which raises the question: Is positive psychology not a new, stand-alone discipline, but rather a label - an umbrella - that has allowed academics and practitioners doing "positive" work across many disciplines to come together under some common language?

This debate seems destined to grow, given the comments made during a 10-minute Q&A following Seligman's announcement at the Summit. And ironically, just before this announcement, Seligman's colleague, Ed Deiner, launched the new International Positive Psychology Association.

Meanwhile, The Gallup Organization's CEO Jim Clifton announced that Gallup's positive social science emphasis will be on "the new science of behavioral economics," which includes measuring global well-being in the Gallup World Poll.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Leading Scientists Gather to Discuss the State of Global Well-Being

For the next three days, I'll be reporting from Gallup's Positive Psychology Summit in Washington, DC. -- Steve Dahlberg, Editor, Applied Imagination blog
[4 October 2007 - GALLUP NEWS SERVICE - Washington, D.C.] Gallup's multinational research reveals subjective perspectives of all aspects of life ... Leading scientists from around the world, including Nobel Prize laureate Daniel Kahneman; Alan Krueger; Angus Deaton; Ed Diener; and John Helliwell are gathering this week at Gallup's Washington, D.C., headquarters to discuss groundbreaking findings on the state of global well-being. Gallup's measures of global well-being reach beyond traditional indicators such as GDP, poverty rates, healthcare expenditures, literacy levels, and life expectancy rates to incorporate subjective self-reported assessments from people in more than 130 countries on virtually all aspects of life. Gallup researchers find clear correlations between overall well-being and subjective assessments of law and order, food and shelter, work, economics, and health, as well as socioeconomic indicators that go beyond GDP -- including measures of military spending, brain drain, and governance. Together, these findings suggest that measures of subjective well-being might help to predict the future of economies and societies as a whole. This behavioral approach to economic forecasting appears to be gaining traction. In September 2007, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said in an interview, "If I could figure out a way to determine whether or not people are more fearful or changing to more euphoric . . . I don't need any of this other stuff. I could forecast the economy better than any way I know." Gallup systematically gathers these behavioral measures by asking respondents to assess qualitative aspects of their life, both overall and during a specific time period. The resulting global Well-Being Index reveals many findings worthy of further investigation and analysis. Income, for example, appears to play a limited role in defining the emotional state of a country. Gallup found that high-income countries such as Slovenia, Greece, Portugal, Italy, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Hong Kong each demonstrate levels of Net Affect that are below average. On the other hand, low-income countries such as Zambia, Vietnam, Nepal, India, Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, Niger, Senegal, Mali, Nigeria, Mauritania, and Laos each display Net Affect that are above the average. Gallup monitors measures of subjective well-being by continuously polling around the globe across samples representing more than 95% of the world's population. By collecting and analyzing these measures, Gallup provides world leaders with better tools to examine and predict the future of economies, the performance of governments, and the momentum of the world's population overall. Gallup plans to release further findings on a contract basis and on More