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ENE Memo: October 10, 2011

From the Head: 10/10

Being the Best that We can Be

In the August 29 ENE Memo I mused on the topic of “Creating Preferred Futures.” I put forth a challenge for us to work actively on two critical questions this year: First, how can we foster rich, creative conversations that draw us together to tackle the “big questions,” and second, how can we be more considerate and constructive in our interactions with one another, so as to foster greater trust and respect and thereby empower each other to be the best we can be and provide a model for others. Taken together, these twin challenges might be thought of as helping each other to be the best that we can be, individually and collectively, in performing to our full potential to make a positive difference in the world.

It is my hope, my expectation, that together we are creating a supportive working environment in ENE – even a culture – that builds people up and helps them to achieve. I am therefore saddened when I hear reports of behavior where quite the opposite is true, where people are bullied in the workplace. Unfortunately, these are not isolated instances. Recently I have experienced such bullying also.

This sort of destructive behavior is a growing phenomenon, and there are many books on the topic. One such book is that by Teresa Daniel entitled Stop Bullying at Work: Strategies and Tools for HR and Legal Professionals. It captures a critical idea: what some consider shrewd, competitive professional tactics to get ahead, others experience as bullying. In a very thought-provoking review by Bonnie Osif, Assistant Engineering Librarian at Penn State, she opens with a quote from Daniel’s book as follows:

If what you call sabotage, I call competition,
What you call conniving deception, I call savvy ambition,
What you call abuse and harassment, I call shrewd gamesmanship.
What you call record-keeping, I call “Hoover files.”
And, that’s the workplace. It’s brutal. It ain’t for sissies.

The prevailing culture conceptualizes work as competitive; winning seems to be the goal. But how we “play the game” is also important. In one of the closing chapters of Choosing Civility, Forni suggests that “we play the game well when we play it to the best of our abilities, respecting both the rules of the game and our opponents,” and he concludes, “This is civility: the ability to internalize the notion that how you play the game is more important than the final score”.

 - David

News and Information: 10/10

ENE Research Seminar

There is no seminar this week, due to the FIE Conference.


10th International Conference of the Learning Sciences – "The Future of Learning"
2 – 6 July, 2012 • University of Sydney, Australia
Brought to you by ISLS, hosted by the CoCo Research Centre at the University of Sydney
Nov 1 Submission deadline: Papers, Posters, and Symposia

Science on Tap

Date: Thursday, Oct 20
Time: 6 – 8 p.m.
Location: Lafayette Brewing Co. (upper floor), 622 Main St., Lafayette (must be 21 or older to attend)

Science on Tap is a monthly program that provides Purdue faculty the opportunity to present research and scholarly activities in an informal setting. David Radcliffe's presentation, "50th Anniversary of Spaceflight: Lessons for Tomorrow," looks back at the early years of the Space Race and considers how the sometimes serendipitous byproducts of those endeavors gave us an early warning about current global challenges regarding climate, energy, food, water, infrastructure, and security. How engineering education and practice changed 50 years ago to meet the challenge of the Space Age, and how engineering education is being reimagined and redesigned today, based on scholarship and research, also figures into the presentation.

Independence and National Days around the World

Calendar: 10/10

Kudos: 10/10

Please send good news of achievements and recognitions that you wish to share.