Video: Against the Norm: Body, Citizen, Constitution, State

In this series of short talks, renowned thinkers from the University of Chicago’s new Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge discuss new paradigms for our bodies, government and society.

 

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In Stevanovich Institute lecture, Jared Diamond examines evolution of religion

Jared Diamond discusses the evolution of religion in a lecture at the Stevanovich Institute in Chicago. Diamond is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Guns, Germs and Steel. Also included in this article from the University of Chicago, Shadi Bartsch-Zimmer, the Director of the Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge interviews the author.

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In Stevanovich Institute lecture, Jared Diamond examines evolution of religion

Pulitzer Prize-winning author discusses research, ‘curious beliefs’ of humans

Jared Diamond lecture
Prof. Jared Diamond delivers the inaugural lecture for the Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge, held April 20 at Kent Hall.
Photo by
Jean Lachat

 

In delivering the inaugural lecture of the Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge, renowned scholar Jared Diamond pondered the evolution and impact of religion in human society.

“Religion offers lots of power. Religion wasn’t invented from scratch, religion didn’t suddenly appear,” he said. “Religion was something that evolved gradually over the course of modern Homo sapiens.”

In his April 20 address, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel combined astronomy and philosophy to explore the functions and origins of religion in society—asking the same kinds of broad questions that the Stevanovich Institute examines regarding human knowledge.

“His ability to speak, both to academics and to the public, the range of his research beyond disciplinary boundaries, and his support of cross-cultural understanding are skills we admire and hope to emulate,” said Prof. Shadi Bartsch-Zimmer, the institute’s director, who introduced Diamond to a packed lecture hall.

A professor of geography at the University of California, Los Angeles, Diamond’s academic research studies society through a variety of lenses. In his lecture, Diamond outlined the core tenets of religion in society—the belief in a divine creator, moral codes and an afterlife. Observing that all human societies have some kind of religion, he concluded that religion must have had functions and advantages that allowed it to persist this long.

“Religion must have evolved gradually over the last 70,000 years,” Diamond said. “Religion is a byproduct of the enlarged human brain, which gives us an enormous advantage by allowing us to deduce what’s called agency, to deduce cause and effect in other humans, to deduce motivations in other humans, and to deduce cause and effect in animals.”

He examined the historical advantages of human religion in the contemporary world, in which Diamond said people increasingly seek explanation of the world from science rather than religion, and where inequality is increasing and religion is a less acceptable justification for war.

Diamond asserted religion’s oldest functions include explaining the world, reducing anxiety in the face of danger, and providing comfort, hope and meaning when life is difficult. A more secular society added other functions—a leader claiming divinity for legitimacy and demanding obedience, creating moral codes and behaviors, and justifying war.

Diamond even pondered what extraterrestrials traveling to Earth might observe about human society. “Put yourself in the position of a visitor from one of those planets, like the Andromeda Nebula,” he said. “These humans have some curious beliefs as well as habits.”

The talk concluded with questions from the audience, ranging from the possibility of life on other planets to Marx’s critique of religion. Diamond emphasized the strength of religion, particularly when asked about repression of religion.

“When societies have attempted to repress religions, as in Communist Russia, religions have gone underground,” Diamond said. In other words, even the possibility of an atheistic society is negated by the tenacity of religious belief.

Formally established in 2016, the institute brings together faculty, graduate students, and visiting scholars to work across disciplines. The Stevanovich Institute also offers classes to students, produces a biannual journal and hosts a variety of events. Next fall, the institute will be moving into a newly renovated space and hosting an inaugural conference on Nov. 16-18.

 

Article found here: https://news.uchicago.edu/article/2017/06/05/stevanovich-institute-lecture-jared-diamond-examines-evolution-religion

Loyola University Chicago MBA students create study abroad course in Croatia

Four ambitious Quinlan MBA students created their own study abroad course using the Ignatian Pedagogy framework—a model for teaching and learning with emphasis on experience, reflection, and action—as a guide for their time abroad.

In June 2016, students Abby Annala, Magi Zlatkova, Emily Schroeder, and Amanda Schaumann and management professor Mike Welch spent 12 days in Croatia. There, they consulted with two major Croatian companies and provided market trend research, industry analysis, and information on the American consumer.

Professor Welch advised the students and worked with them to apply the Ignatian Pedagogy framework to their time in Croatia.

“I really admired how the students took ownership over the course and their learning,” said Welch. “They successfully used the Ignatian Pedagogy framework to maximize their time in Croatia and provide their client with an actionable business plan.”

The students also relied on the international connections and insight of information systems professor Nenad Jukić. A native of Croatia, Jukić introduced the group to one of their clients and helped them navigate Croatian culture and customs.

Gaining insights in Chicago

Classwork began well before the June trip. Months beforehand, the students began working with their first client, Kraš, a Croatian company specializing in chocolate. The students researched the company to determine its market share in Croatia, while also analyzing American market trends from the confectionery industry. The result was a SWOT analysis of potential U.S. distribution and operations.

“Our detailed SWOT analysis showed Kraš how serious we were, and it made them open to scheduling Skype meetings with us and sending additional documents to help us better serve them,” said Annala. Ultimately, the students chose to write a business plan for opening a Kraš retail storefront in Chicago.

For an additional perspective on retail operations in Chicago, the students visited World’s Finest Chocolate and toured its local manufacturing facilities. This was made possible thanks to Anthony Gargiulo (MS ’87), a Quinlan alumnus and vice president of human resources at World’s Finest Chocolate.

Hands-on experience in Croatia

Once in Croatia, the students met with representatives from Kraš and their second client, Stemi.

“During the company visit, we met with several members of the supervisory board of Kraš in the marketing, exports, and manufacturing departments,” said Schroeder. “The meetings were extraordinarily useful for us to gain a deeper understanding of the company and the cultural differences of operating a business in Croatia versus in the U.S.”

The students also visited several Kraš retail stores and toured its facilities, which came with the added perk of eating freshly made chocolate.

Their second client, Stemi, is a start-up company focused on educating women and children about STEM. Stemi requested insights on the American education market and consumer, as they are looking to market a build-your-own hexapod robot to American consumers.

The robot kit teaches STEM in a fun and interactive way, as it challenges the consumer to assemble its various parts. However, the students identified a major challenge for marketing the robot to American consumers: a 10-month wait to receive it.

Providing value to their clients

While in Croatia, the students provided Stemi with research on the U.S. education market. They also advised Stemi to shift its marketing focus from individual consumers to educational institutions, such as schools and libraries. These institutions are more likely to wait up to 10 months to receive the hexapod robot.

Following the trip, the students provided Kraš with an actionable business plan to help the organization bring retail operations to Chicago. The plan relied on knowledge gained pre-trip, their experiences during the trip, and group reflection.

“I’m very proud of what we accomplished in Croatia and our deliverables for Kraš and Stemi,” said Zlatkova. “At times it was challenging for us to balance both full-time school and work, on top of creating a study abroad course from scratch, but in the end it was all worth it!”

Group reflection

An important part of the class—and of Ignatian Pedagogy—is reflection. After each meeting, the students created time for focused group reflection and discussion. This time enabled them to brainstorm ideas and work together to meet the expectations of their clients.

“Each of us on the trip came from a different field of study, which meant we all came away from each meeting with a different perspective,” said Schaumann.  “Having the opportunity to reflect throughout the trip helped me to develop a broader business understanding.”

Sharing the lessons learned

In August 2016, the students presented at the Focus on Teaching and Learning Conference, a Loyola conference on effective teaching and learning practices. They discussed their experiences and how this model can replicated by business students and others interested in international experiential learning.

The students all agree that creating their own study abroad course and spending 12 days in Croatia working with international clients were life-changing experiences for them, both individually and as a group.

“This has been a self-actualizing experience,” said Annala. “Our time in Croatia allowed me and my classmates to directly apply skills from the classroom to solve a real-world business problem for a company.”

Picked up story from http://www.luc.edu/quinlan/stories/archive/mba-students-create-study-abroad-course-in-croatia.shtml.