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For big questions, a bigger forum

first_imgOne of the most challenging and lauded programs at Harvard isn’t part of the academic course curriculum.Coordinated through the Freshman Dean’s Office, the “Reflecting on Your Life” initiative invites freshmen to think about meaning and purpose. Featuring facilitators from across the University, the program typically meets for three sessions, at the beginning of second semester.The sessions fulfill no academic requirements, and yet, year after year, freshmen show up for three consecutive weeks to participate in small-group programming that delves deeply into their values, leading to conversations with peers that sometimes reveal gaps between thought and action.“The program gives students time to stop and think about what really matters to them,” said Katherine Steele, project manager and director for freshman programming, such as “what their values are and how those values shape the decisions that they make — from what’s important to them to how they spend their time, and even who they spend their life with.”Now, a grant from the Teagle Foundation is broadening the scope of the program, making it possible for Harvard to share it with colleges and universities interested in launching similar initiatives. The grant will also enable collaborations on best practices and programs to help students to consider the big questions: meaning, value, and purpose.After Richard Light, the Carl H. Pforzheimer Jr. Professor of Teaching and Learning, learned about the Teagle Foundation’s initiative to advance civic and moral education on college campuses, Steele worked with Dean of Freshmen Thomas A. Dingman to submit a proposal to help develop programs for the “civic and moral education of today’s college students.”The grant will sponsor the effort for three years, helping leaders at Harvard and elsewhere understand the impact of the various ways universities encourage dialogue about personal values and citizenship. But most importantly, Steele said, the grant should help promote programs that allow students to figure out how they want to live.“How do you affect moral growth? How does someone really solidify what they stand for? It’s about developing a stronger sense of who they are, and what they stand for. It’s about drawing the lines between what’s important to you and how you’re spending your time … and if the connections between those two things are missing, what can or should you do about it?”“Reflecting on Your Life” began at Harvard as a result of the in-depth, one-on-one interviews that Light conducted each year with students about to graduate. One answer was especially provocative, that of the student who told Light that Harvard had “forgotten to offer the most important course of all” — namely, how to think about living his life.“It was a revelation to realize that we were missing out on such a key and fundamental question,” Light said. “It’s often covered in an academic sense, but not necessarily from a personal, real-life point of view. What does it mean to live a happy, or useful, life? What about living a productive life? Are those concepts inherently different? If they are, which one do you choose?”Light approached Howard Gardner, the John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, for his perspective. Gardner, whose research has often focused on professional ethics, said that the discussion mirrored a trend he had observed among students over the years.“I’d become concerned about something I’d observed from our best and brightest,” Gardner said. “They wanted to do the right thing, but they felt like the most important thing was to be successful. So if they had to cut some corners in order to accomplish that, they felt like they needed to do so. The metaphor I like to use is that the ethical muscle was very thin.”For the past six years, according to both individual testimony and a formal evaluation, alumni of the program have left it feeling that they have a better understanding of themselves, their goals, and their values.“In the 19th century, one of the reasons you went to college was to think about values, purpose, and deep spiritual values — which was completely expunged in the 20th century,” Gardner said. Although the secularization of universities was positive in many ways, he said, a void was left.“Some students fill this with religion, science, or a strong familial unit, but for many students in today’s fast-changing world — particularly those new to college, and especially those attending a high-pressure institution, such as Harvard — they need, and deserve, our guidance and our help.”For Steele, the grant will provide an opportunity for students across a range of Schools to pause and take the time to ask themselves the hard questions.“Harvard students are so busy and so focused, but we’ve found that students really benefit from posing these challenging questions,” she said. “When we create an opportunity for them to do that, and have a structure where they can pose these questions, it can have a really profound effect.”last_img read more

Investors must ‘move beyond talking’ on climate risk disclosure – AODP

first_imgHe added that the writing was on the wall regarding transparency, and that leaders in the field were already fully disclosing all risks associated with climate change.“It’s time to accept the inevitable and embrace this change,” Poulter said.The warning came as the UK’s Prudential Regulation Authority warned that pension funds should not underestimate their fiduciary duty to consider the financial risks of climate change.In a report aimed at the insurance industry and launched by Bank of England governor Mark Carney, it outlined lawsuits brought in the US against pension trustees for failing to consider the financial risks associated with the “structural decline” of the coal industry.In a speech at Lloyd’s of London on Tuesday, Carney referenced the US lawsuits.“Cases like Arch Coal and Peabody Energy – where it is alleged the directors of corporate pension schemes failed in their fiduciary duties by not considering financial risks driven at least in part by climate change – illustrate the potential for long-tail risks to be significant, uncertain and non-linear.“These risks will only increase as the science and evidence of climate change hardens.”The AODP and ClientEarth previously warned that pension funds falling behind on climate-risk mitigation risked breaching their fiduciary duty. Institutional investors have been urged to back the “inevitable” shift towards even greater climate-risk transparency to protect investments against climate change risks.The Asset Owners Disclosure Project (AODP) said it was time for investors to “move beyond the talking” when it came to tackling the risk associated with climate change.Its chief executive Julian Poulter added that those leading the organisation’s index on climate-risk disclosure had proven investments could be protected “against a carbon crash and still make money”.“It’s time to focus attention on those laggards who are digging their heels in – some for ideological reasons and some out of negligence,” he said. last_img read more

Report: Reina set for Napoli medical

first_imgSky Sport Italia claim Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina is flying in for his Napoli medical on Wednesday.The shot-stopper has agreed to join on loan for one season and it’s reported the two clubs have already exchanged contracts.Personal terms have also been finalised, so Reina will undergo a medical on Wednesday or Thursday.He reunites with Rafa Benitez, who first signed him at Liverpool and is the new Coach of Napoli.Meanwhile, this opens the door for Morgan De Sanctis to join Roma for €0.5m.Napoli are active on the transfer market, as they are also reportedly on the verge of completing a €37m move for Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain.last_img read more

Eto’o, Song in Cameroon’s final 23 for World Cup

first_imgCameroon coach Volker Finke has included Samuel Eto’o and Alex Song in his 23-man squad for the World Cup.Finke kept the Chelsea striker and Barcelona midfielder in a final selection that showed no major surprises.Tottenham defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto and strikers Vincent Aboubakar and Maxim Choup-Moting also made the cut on Monday, FIFA’s deadline for World Cup squads to be registered.Finke dropped five players from the larger group he took to Europe for a training camp in Austria and friendly games against Macedonia, Paraguay and his native Germany.Among those to miss out were striker Mohammadou Idrissou and defender Jean-Armel Kana Biyik, whose father and uncle played at the 1990 World Cup in Italy when Cameroon became the first African team to make the quarterfinals.Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.last_img read more