Thursday, October 29, 2009

Is the U.S. Killing Its Innovation Machine?

What does innovation require ... in your company? in your community? in your state? in your country? Are you seeing evidence of decisions and behaviors to support sustainable, ethical innovation?

Is "innovation machine" the right metaphor, the right frame, for helping us innovate better?
[November 2009 - Harvard Business Review - Adi Ignatius, Editor in Chief] Can the U.S. continue to thrive as a center of innovation if it can’t manufacture the products it invents? In "Restoring American Competitiveness," a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, Gary P. Pisano and Willy C. Shih, contend that that answer is no and warn that outsourcing has undermined the country’s high tech sector. Is high tech in trouble? Does it matter if R&D and manufacturing capabilities have migrated to Asia? What should business and government leaders do to ensure that the U.S. retains its competitive edge? As the U.S. tries to remake its auto companies, become a player in emerging industries, and revive its ailing economy, few issues are more important. For the next several weeks, an impressive roster of experts will discuss these questions in the HBR online symposium: “Is the U.S. Killing Its Innovation Machine?” I encourage you to read what they have to say and to offer your own ideas.

Tai Chi exercise reduces knee osteoarthritis pain in the elderly, research shows

[29 October 2009 - EurekAlert!/Arthritis Care & Research] Regular sessions improve physical function, depression and overall health. ... Researchers from Tufts University School of Medicine have determined that patients over 65 years of age with knee osteoarthritis (OA) who engage in regular Tai Chi exercise improve physical function and experience less pain. Tai Chi (Chuan) is a traditional style of Chinese martial arts that features slow, rhythmic movements to induce mental relaxation and enhance balance, strength, flexibility, and self-efficacy. Full findings of the study are published in the November issue of Arthritis Care & Research, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology. More

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Creating Cognitive Dissonance in the Classroom

In Ben Johnson's blog at Edutopia, he writes (17 September 2009): "Cognitive dissonance is created by a dedicated teacher who challenges the students' beliefs about their own capacity to learn." In the Creative Community Building program at the University of Connecticut, we seek to create such experiences in the undergraduate classroom (face-to-face and online). Consider signing up for any of three Spring 2010 courses to be offered in Storrs and Hartford, Connecticut, as well as online:
  • Creativity + Social Change - Tuesdays in Hartford, Connecticut
  • Community Organizing and Social Movements - Mondays in Storrs, Connecticut
  • Introduction to the Co-Operative Movement: History, Philosophy and Prospects for the Future - Online

Creative Workers as "The New Untouchables"

What examples do you see in your community's schools, where creative thinking is being encouraged, taught and applied? Where are your kids most creative -- in school or out of school? What opportunities for being creative do you provide to your kids at home?

Before we can teach for more creativity in school -- which we absolutely should be doing -- we need to help teachers, administrators and parents rediscover their own creativity so that they can recognize and encourage it in others.
[20 October 2009 - New York Times - By Tom Friedman] That is the key to understanding our full education challenge today. Those who are waiting for this recession to end so someone can again hand them work could have a long wait. Those with the imagination to make themselves untouchables — to invent smarter ways to do old jobs, energy-saving ways to provide new services, new ways to attract old customers or new ways to combine existing technologies — will thrive. Therefore, we not only need a higher percentage of our kids graduating from high school and college — more education — but we need more of them with the right education. As the Harvard University labor expert Lawrence Katz explains it: “If you think about the labor market today, the top half of the college market, those with the high-end analytical and problem-solving skills who can compete on the world market or game the financial system or deal with new government regulations, have done great. But the bottom half of the top, those engineers and programmers working on more routine tasks and not actively engaged in developing new ideas or recombining existing technologies or thinking about what new customers want, have done poorly. They’ve been much more exposed to global competitors that make them easily substitutable.” ... So our schools have a doubly hard task now — not just improving reading, writing and arithmetic but entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity. More | Public Responses to This Column: "To Promote Creativity, Let’s Start in the Schools"

Public Space ... For Ads or Art?

Who controls public space? Should it be filled with ads? Or art? Or both? What examples exist in your community where commercial signs and messages have been banned?
[25 October 2009 - New York Times] A Battle, on Billboards, of Ads vs. Art ... It was a bizarre cat-and-mouse game, played on Sunday across scores of makeshift billboards in New York. One group of artists and activists spread across Lower Manhattan, transforming innumerous wheat-pasted posters — the ones that readily sprout over scaffolding -- into their own canvas. They would whitewash the posters and then create their own work, or allow anti-advertising advocates to spread their own messages. But just as quickly as they whitewashed and put up art, workers arrived to put up new posters where the artists had obscured the old ones. More

Monday, October 19, 2009

Neuroscience 2009 highlights new research on exercise, music and the brain

[19 October 2009 - EurekAlert! / Society for Neuroscience] Research presented today at Neuroscience 2009, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world's largest source of emerging news about brain science and health, provides a better understanding of the brain, nervous system, and related disorders. Specific research released today shows:
  • The benefits of exercise on both the brain and body, and, more specifically, underscores the positive influence of regular physical activity on Parkinson's disease, depression, premenstrual syndrome, and memory.
  • New tools are enabling researchers to identify neural similarities and differences between species. The findings may help to explain faculties, like language, and diseases, like Parkinson's, that are unique to humans.
  • New insights into male behavior support the idea that many gender differences lie in the brain and are influenced by both genes and environment.
  • Scientists are developing novel ways to bypass the blood-brain barrier, a network of blood vessels that prevents more than 95 percent of all chemicals from entering the brain from the bloodstream. Researchers describe new methods for transporting drugs across the BBB as well as ways to enhance the brain's own immune response, which is separated from the body's immune system by the BBB.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

New Center At Yale Will Explore What Makes The Human Brain Unique

[15 October 2009 - Medical News Today] Leveraging more than $25 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Yale School of Medicine has created a new research center to study how our brain evolved uniquely human traits. Its founders hope that the center will identify new treatment options for many forms of mental illness, including schizophrenia, autism and bipolar disease. More

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Be happy and extend your lifespan

[5 October 2009 - Telegraph - UK] Scientists have proved that being happy can help you to lower the risk of disease and live longer. And the good news for pessimists is that you can learn to think positively. ... The good news for those not of a Pollyanna disposition is that happiness can be learnt. "There are wonderful programmes around to teach positive attitudes and resilience," says Prof Felicia Huppert, director of Cambridge University's Well-being Institute. "As early as the Seventies, scientists developed a programme called Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which has so far been applied to many thousands of patients and found to have significant effects on medical conditions. "Wellbeing is being promoted in schools and at work, where enlightened employers are carrying out wellbeing audits to make sure people are feeling appreciated and fulfilled." More