What do Alaska, California, Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Washington have in common? Each of these states contributed at least one student to our amazing Spring 2011 cohort. That cohort arrived on Saturday and has already begun to distinguish itself for its collegiality and enthusiasm.
After a fun and engaging afternoon of leadership exercises (Are you willing to fall backwards from a tabletop into the interlocking arms of people you just met? How do you lead a blindfolded comrade through a “minefield”? Can you get eight people through a “spiderweb” without touching the web under time pressure?), we shared dinner and then settled in for our first academic session of the semester. The subject was an emotional one: students watched live CNN coverage of the attacks of September 11, 2001 and then discussed the significance of the day. After a healthy conversation that addressed the video from several angles, we left students with a question to ponder: What skills and knowledge do you need to lead in a post-September 11 world? At SEGL, we want students to become active participants in their own leadership development, and asking questions like this helps them take charge of their own learning.
What is our essential nature? Are humans essentially good? Evil? Selfish? Selfless? On Monday morning we began our Ethics and Leadership class in earnest with “The Infamous Skittles Scenario,” an interactive simulation that challenges students with these questions. The simulation attempts to duplicate the so-called “state of nature” (the hypothetical condition of humans prior to the introduction of social norms or rules) that social contract philosophers like Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau discuss. You can read the introductory explanation sheet we gave students here. After the simulation and a follow-up conversation, we gave students an overview of Western ethical philosophy: Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, and John Stuart Mill.
Today we begin our first case study–on the rise of China and its implications for the environment–and welcome our first guest speaker of the semester: U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern. Mr. Stern is the lead member of the Obama Administration working on climate change issues, and we are excited he will be working with SEGL students for the first time.
Please see below for pictures of our opening three days.