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US foreign policy has exacerbated poverty in Latin America


During the liberal insurgence in Latin America, charismatic leaders spoke eloquently to the desires of the working class majority in their respective countries. They desired to give the poor greater rights, to expand education, and to nationalize industries among other things. Their rhetoric connected with the people and following their elections, there was an uptick in newly formed government funded social programs. Unfortunately, Cold War politics reared its ugly head and the United States perceived these nationalistic actions as communism. The United States used economic and social powers to put pressure on these democratically elected leaders, fuel rage within the upper classes, cripple economies, and pave the way for the rise of oligarchic regimes. Many perceived stability from this change in leadership; however, it eventually resulted in decades of violence and human rights violations. Now, Latin America stands at an important moment in history. Most countries within the region are growing but they are still grappling with inequality and heightened poverty. My paper is directed at U.S. policy makers and offers suggestions in order to improve foreign policy within the region and support those who have been marginalized historically by both the United States and their countries’ governments.

Addressing the Childhood Obesity Epidemic


The childhood obesity epidemic is a social, economic, and public health challenge (Wechsler, et al, 2004).  It constitutes a critical threat to the health and well-being of our nation, as rates have risen dramatically over the past decades.  The United States now has the highest rate of childhood obesity among all developed nations (Kluger, 2008).  Its mitigation requires a multi-disciplinary strategy, as it has become a serious public health concern, not only in the U.S., but also worldwide.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that, over the last thirty years, the number of overweight children has doubled, while the number has almost tripled among adolescents (Ogden and Carroll, 2010).  The main issue is that children and adolescents are eating unhealthy high calorie, high fat, processed foods, and are not getting enough physical activity.

Children, in contrast to adults, are treated as unable to weigh the future consequences of their actions.  Children may have a poor understanding of the long-term health consequences of overeating or lack of physical activity.  In the case that they have adequate information, they may assign minimal importance to problems in the distant future.  Therefore, government actively regulates the decisions of children more strictly than those of adults.  Additionally, when children are enrolled in the public school system, the government acts in loco parentis; thus, it is important to consider the relationship of school policies, especially regarding nutrition and physical activity, to the childhood obesity epidemic (Acs and Lyles, 2007). Continue reading

Increase Funding for Public Education


The public education system in America is underfunded and this is bound to cause repercussions for future generations and the future of America.   Continue reading

Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude


“The pursuit of happiness” is a saying that is ingrained in Americans as one of the unalienable rights of man. Stemming from the United States Declaration of Independence, this term has been around our country for quite some time. What is this happiness that we are inclined to pursue and how do we generate it? Well, throughout this semester, I have been studying those questions, among many more, while completing my psychology independent study on Positive Psychology. This subject topic stems from the belief that psychology, which essentially studies human mind and its functions, place too much emphasis on the negative workings of the mind. Therefore, this new area of psychology was born to focus on how to model those who lead happy, successful lives. Thus, positive psychology seeks to make normal life more fulfilling.

Based on much of the research that I came into contact with over the semester, cultivating an attitude of gratitude is one of the easiest ways to become a happier individual. Gratitude is an interesting emotion, as it is not neurologically hardwired into our brain, yet the comparisons we innately make when cultivating gratitude help us be thankful for and satisfied with our position in life. The process of experiencing gratitude must intentionally be sought after, and, just like any learned skill, practicing gratitude allows one to experience the feeling easier.

(start at 3:30)

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Vote Today, Shape Tomorrow


Voting is one of the most empowering components of living in a democracy. It provides you the opportunity to share your opinions and impact the future of our country.  Unfortunately, many take this privilege for granted. It seems as though many in our country believe their vote is futile and doesn’t mean much. Anyone who watched the 2000 Presidential Election results in Florida or the 2012 Republican Iowa caucus would likely disagree.  Despite the elements of our government that frustrate us, the fact is that voter absenteeism only furthers corruption. Voters must take action to change the culture of Washington. Little change will occur when disgruntled voters aren’t making their voices heard. The overwhelmingly lopsided victory of President Barack Obama in 2008 proves the power that voters have when they are frustrated and desire change. Hold your leaders accountable for their promises.

The blog prompt this week asked that we develop a way to improve the world in 60 seconds. In my opinion, a careful selection of who leads the United States can have a profound impact not only domestically but also internationally. That is why it is important to engage in the political process and understand who you are voting for.  Politicians can ultimately determine laws that protect or restrict personal freedoms and civil liberties. The President selects judges and justices who determine the legality of critical issues like civil rights, religion, and abortion. A President you vote for today may choose a judge that will determine social policy in the US for decades.

That being said, US politicians also impact other countries around the globe. These individuals make vital decisions with regards to foreign aid, defense, and trade. They determine who we will engage violently but also who we will support in peaceful operations. US foreign policy towards other countries can impact populations for years. This fact is evident in regions like Latin America. (See Guatemala)

So, learn about the candidates. Find a candidate, regardless of party, that falls in line with your personal beliefs. Then, go out and tell others about the election. Vote in every election (local, state or federal) to honor those who fought for this right. Don’t stop there. Start a campaign or movement knowing that the impacts of your efforts are limitless.

Profit at the Bottom of the Ladder


For my white paper, I plan to focus on poverty in America with a specific lens on the working poor. Through examining statistics about the working poor and poverty in America in general, I hope to get a better understanding of what causes poverty. I want to examine the socioeconomic, demographic, and educational components that together are consistent among individuals who comprise the working poor. While I don’t necessarily expect to fully explain what causes poverty, I hope to gain a better understanding of the wide variety of factors which come into play.

This week we were asked to take a trip to the library to identify sources which would help us in our research for the White Paper. I found a book that was particular helpful with regards to my focus on the working poor.  Profit at the Bottom of the Ladder by Jody Heymann is a book which discusses the stories of businesses which have taken and alternative approach to business and employee treatment. Heymann examines twelve companies from nine countries with workforces which range from as small as 27 to over 100,000. These businesses are very different from one another and serve a diverse range of customers. Despite the significant differences between the businesses, each company has proven to do well financially, successfully implement a strategy that places emphasis on high quality working conditions for low-level employees, and has developed a wide range of other employee centered policies which have made them desirable places to work. Their financial successes have balanced the needs of various parties including owners, shareholders, and all employees of the firm. Some of the firms included are Costco, American Apparel, and Xerox.

Heymann thoroughly examines each example and makes the clear argument that it is beneficial for companies to invest in all employees at all levels. She also draws clear links to data to prove that this practice can be profitable for the companies, despite the investment. She utilizes specific references to prove that the rewards gained from the additional workforce investment outweigh the costs.  The section of the book which I read discussed the companies of American Apparel and Jenkins Brick. In this chapter, the values of incentive policies and appealing salary scales were noted. The explicit link between these types of policies and increases in employee motivation and productivity are made. Furthermore, the heightened lower-level salaries results in recruitment of the most dependable employees. This section of the book also described the case studies of Autoliv Australia and Isola. In these examples, policies involving flexible scheduling of time off and extended leave created a greater sense of loyalty amongst employees along with increased job satisfaction. Both companies determined that more generous policies surrounding sick leave and time to care for family was very important to their respective staffs. After the policies were implemented, the companies experienced lower turnover rates, fewer missed days of work, lower costs, and wrongful use of sick days. The conclusion was that such policies lead to greater employee loyalty and connection to the firm.

Now, you might be wondering how this book applies to my topic of poverty amongst the working poor. This topic is largely “Society” focused. In order to bring in “Government” and “Business” into the picture, I need to offer valuable suggestions to policy makers at the federal level in addition to upper level executives in business. This book directly addresses the “Business” piece. It offers effective solutions to companies which will result in more productivity. Meanwhile, the policies mentioned lead to a better quality of life for ALL employees, even those at the “bottom of the ladder.” Many of those individuals comprise the working poor in America. All in all it was a successful trip to the library!

A little digging


After searching the library database with key words such as “Japanese Whaling”, “Eco-terrorism” and “Sea Shepherd”, I found two hits for books.  The first book was “Sea Shepherd: My Fight for Whales and Seal” by Paul Watson (President of the Sea Shepherd Conservation group).  I found this book first and flipped through it, but it failed to provide much more than a narrative of his early experiences as a conservationist.  Although the information is interesting, I do not think it will be much use for my white paper.

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Research is Invaluable


Having chosen childhood obesity as the topic for my white paper, I have had no trouble finding information as there is a wide variety of research and literature on the subject.  In the library, I was pressed for time, but I uncovered several books in the sciences and medicine stacks within a matter of minutes.  The title that I found most interesting was “Generation Extra Large: Rescuing Our Children from the Epidemic of Obesity”.  Given last week’s discussion regarding Generation We, I found the labeling of our same generation as “Extra Large” was worthy of comment. 

Nevertheless, the book that I actually chose to look at more in depth for this particular blog post was entitled “Obesity in Youth: Causes, Consequences, and Cures”.  I decided that this book might be the most helpful as it was the most recently published (2009) of the books I discovered in my less-than comprehensive search.  I assumed that this book may have more reliable data and statistics and therefore it would be more helpful than the others in contributing to my white paper. Continue reading

Successful Value Chain Management


Onslaught of Green

Consumers are finding it more and more challenging to differentiate goods and services that are advertised as environmentally friendly. According to a 2010 study by TerraChoice, an independent testing and certification organization, there are 73% more green products on the market today than in 2009.1They also revealed that roughly 95% of green products are being greenwashed to some degree (based on their seven sins of greenwashing).1 While this study focused on home and family products, the purchasing power of greenwashing is evident across many industries. Greenwashing can be defined as the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.2 Additionally, Wikipedia defines green washing as a term describing the deceptive use of green PR or green marketing in order to promote the perception that an organization’s policies or products are environmentally friendly.3,4 While most organizations do not outright greenwash, any exaggerated behavior is inappropriate: greenwashing is “an extremely serious matter…it is insidious, eroding consumer trust, contaminating the credibility of all sustainability-related marketing and hence inhibiting progress toward a sustainable economy,” stated in a report by Ogilvy & Mather, a huge advertising firm.5 The Federal Trade Commission does provide guidelines for environmental marketing claims, but these are not enforceable.6,7 It has been the responsibility of corporations to not jump on the green public image bandwagon, spend resources on environmentally sound practices, and inform the public about the truthful environmental impacts of buying and using their products.

Fundamentals

A helpful document for corporations is Ogilvy’s guide on brand management: “From Greenwash to Great: A Practical Guide to Great Green Marketing (without the Greenwash).” The guide presents a framework that speaks to an honest green story starting from inside the company, not from a marketing idea that is created and spun for consumers.8 A company that has started in an honest place is Levi Strauss & Co. The company was founded in San Francisco, California in 1853 and created the very first pair of blue jeans in 1873.9 The Levi’s brand has become one of the most widely recognized brands, positioned as the original and authentic jeans brand. It’s merchandising and marketing seeks to reflect the brand’s core attributes: original, definitive, honest, confident, and youthful. It is obvious the company is proud of its history and heritage: “People have worn our products during the seminal moments of social change over the past 150 years.”10 The company has a long lineage of corporate social responsibility: shorter work weeks were implemented to mitigate the massive lay-offs happening during the Great Depression; factories were racially integrated prior to the Civil Rights Act; was one of the first companies to take action in the fight against HIV/AIDS, as well as remaining committed to the pandemic; established a set of Global Sourcing and Operating Guidelines; and joined the Federal Labor Association (FLA) efforts to improve working conditions around the globe.11,12,13 According to Ogilvy’s brand management guide, environmental improvements and benefits need to be measurable, verified and significant to the product’s real footprint.14 Beyond their corporate social responsibility, Levi’s is considered a pioneer in sustainability, making efforts to minimize their environmental footprint in all levels of their operations. Continue reading

Analyzing the Use of Assassination or Targeted Killings as a Legal Foreign Policy


             In 1648, just after the Thirty Years War, the state system was developed in Europe. The international behavior of the competing European states was regulated by a simple theory consistent with the general thinking of the time: the “balance of power.” The system was used for three hundred and fifty years. At that time people belonged to unified nations and they elected a leader who was expected to support the best interests of the constituents. (Asch, 1997) With the advent of communications technology and quicker transportation; however, the world’s mindset became that of billions of people as opposed to cohesive powerful nations. With the world changing rapidly and violence on the rise, the US as the world leader must change the way we cope with threats toward our nation. Nowadays we are often at war with an individual or group of individuals, not a nation. Why wage war with innocent citizens when their brutal dictators are the true enemies? The United States desperately needs a new, legal foreign policy strategy and by eliminating Executive Order 12333 section 2.11 to allow assassinations, it can better combat our adversaries abroad.

            Back in 1648 it was vital to maintain a system that was mutually beneficial to all members of the global community. It created a legal understanding between the nation-states. (Asch, 1997) Unfortunately the present threat to our nation does not represent a country but rather rogue colonies of terrorists. Allowing assassination as a legal foreign policy will ultimately be a less violent method of combat. Nevertheless there will be those who argue that such a policy would break international law. Upon researching these laws; however, one will realize that there are no explicit restrictions on assassinations. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is a United Nations treaty often used against assassinations. It was entered into the force on March 23, 1976. Once the senate ratified the ICCPR in 1992; however, it took a very weak stance on the issue. In congressional resolution S4781-84, the senate stated that “the provisions of article 1 through 26 of the covenant are not self exalting”. This means that if our congress was to pass legislation against the ICCPR then that legislation would supersede the prior rule. Thus congress could take action today to legally permit this strategy. The second treaty used against assassination is the Hague Convention of 1899. This was among the first statements of laws on war crimes. In addition to being outdated, when one examines Section IV of this convention, it is obvious that the United States is already in violation of this treaty. This section prohibits the launching of projectiles and explosives from balloons. (Masters) Seeing that this convention is already being ignored, it is not a valid argument against assassinations. Finally, the Geneva Convention Protocol 1 prohibits attacks that rely on “Perfidy”. This vague statement is manipulated quite often by governments that simply redefine the enemies targeted by their attacks.

What one must realize is that now more than ever, Executive Order 12333 section 2.11 is being manipulated to satisfy our country’s goals. The Bush administration usurped this order after the murders of Uday and Qusai Hussein were carried out. (Bazan, CRS3) Repealing this order would allow our nation’s leaders to legitimately consider the policy. Former White House press secretary Ari Fleisher once stated “the cost of one bullet, if the Iraqi people take it on themselves, is substantially less than the cost of war”. I must agree with his words and say that although this proposal might seem inherently violent, it will actually result in fewer deaths. When a few special soldiers are seeking out one or a few corrupt leaders as opposed to bombing an entire region, naturally there will be fewer civilian and troop deaths. The estimated toll of civilian deaths in Iraq is over 100,000 people. (BBC News) This proposal would avoid unnecessary wars in countries where our enemies are the dictators and not the citizenry. The US will spend billions later to repair the dismantled nation of Iraq when we could have avoided the destruction by targeting individual leaders of the Taliban with undercover Special Forces.

US funding of its operation in Iraq 2003 to 2011

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The Cost of Safety: Ethics and the Airline Industry


INTRODUCTION

Today, regional airline carriers account for more than half of all domestic flights in the United States, as major airlines have been outsourcing more of their flights.  According to the U.S. government Accountability Office, the regional airlines are responsible for the last six fatal commercial airline accidents (Dillingham).  Thus, their business operations, especially with respect to safety standards, implicate a variety of ethical dimensions and perspectives.

THE STORY OF THE REGIONAL CARRIERS IN THE AIRLINE INDUSTRY

Over the past thirty years, a major transformation has been occurring in the United States airline industry.  It began in the late 1970s when the U.S. government deregulated the airline industry, which inevitably led to increased competition among the major airlines to offer lower airfares (Cunningham, et al).   In response, the airline companies created the regional industry and developed a new business operating strategy called the hub and spoke model as a way of lowering costs.  Basically, the major airlines created central hubs in large cities or metropolitan areas and began relying on small regional carriers or commuters to feed their domestic network system (Wei & Yanji).  (See Appendix A) Continue reading

Employers Creative Use of Facebook


Social media and social networking sites are becoming more and more popular in today’s world as a means of communication and marketing. The most used social media site that has emerged is Facebook which is used by all groups of society. Approximately 45% of employers (who the exact employers are is inaccessible due to confidentiality issues) are using Facebook as a means for screening potential job applicants (Rosen). Employers have recently started asking candidates for their username and passwords as part of the job hiring process (Castillo). If candidates say no, they are immediately eliminated from the job pool which is detrimental in a time when unemployment rates are relatively high. The process of employers viewing candidate’s profiles and now even requesting their user name and password has brought up ethical and legal questions concerning privacy rights. While employers “believe they have the right to obtain as much information as possible about applicants” by using social networking sites, many others feel it is an invasion of privacy (Byrnside, 458). The legality of the issue is being explored in the courts but the ethics of the employer is still in question. By utilizing Robert Nozick’s Entitlement Theory to understand the ethical issues that stem from this dilemma, I feel as though the employers are not entitled to access candidate’s Facebook profiles. Continue reading

SOX causes Companies to go Dark


Since I am an accounting major, I have gained a major interest in government policies that may affect my future. I also have enjoyed learning about many accounting frauds that have taken place (especially since some companies went to great lengths to cover up what they were doing, check out ZZZZ Best for example). One of the major policies that has been passed and we have discussed in class is the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002. The article that we read for class analyzed the effects of the act shortly after it was implemented. As a result, I want to see if any results and analyses have changed.

 SOX was implemented after the Enron and WorldCom scandals. It was the government’s quick response and solution to the mistrust the public was gaining of big corporations.  SOX implemented many regulations on auditors and companies in order to make sure no more economic disasters would occur in the future (the financial crisis of 2008?). For my white paper, I want to explore the actual effects of SOX on society, companies, and auditing firms. Continue reading

Why do the FAT CATS keep getting fatter?


One of the subjects that we have briefly touched on during our time in class is CEO compensation and income inequality. We read a brief by AG Lafley who argued that it is time for CEOs to take a stand. He acknowledges in the article that “amounts and forms” of CEO pay are “unacceptable and inappropriate.” He believes that failure to take action will ultimately result in governmental action. Lafley offers several suggestions. His four main points are “reward with equity, restore integrity to equity grants, eliminate post-employment provisions not pegged to performance, and implement more-detailed analyses.” Essentially, Lafley wants to increase CEO incentives to perform well, maintain CEO equity in the firm, remove forms of pay like automatic stock options, and value executive compensation appropriately, including all forms.

I was intrigued by this subject and wanted to research it more because it stands in stark contrast to what I am planning to write about for my final white paper. My first argument draft focused on poverty in America and its impact on children and minorities. I plan to combine this dialogue with a focus on the working poor as well. Eventually, I want to recommend suggestions to federal legislators to assist those who need the most help. Providing information in my paper about the wealthiest Americans would portray the alarming shift of wealth in our country by giving examples of those who are benefitting most.

I conducted some initial research through Google and discovered a Businessweek article which stated that in the 1980s, the CEO of a major corporation made 42 times the average hourly worker in the company. This number has skyrocketed to a remarkable 531 times the average hourly worker in recent years. Many questions have been raised about whether executive compensation is truly connected to the financial performance of their company.  Recent social movements like Occupy Wall Street have shown that the general sentiment is that it is highly unlikely that all or most of the growth of a company is due to just one person. No reputable studies have connected high levels of CEO compensation to company performance. Nevertheless, it continues to increase the gap between CEOs and those front line employees who are heavily relied on to deliver growth. It is predicted that the current pattern will result in less employee motivation.

I conducted a cited reference search and came across an article titled “Exorbitant CEO compensation: just reward or grand theft?” which was written by David O. Friedrichs in October 2008. This article thoroughly discusses CEO compensation and provides a significant volume of data to back up its claims. It makes the  argument that exorbitant CEO compensation should be considered a white collar criminal offense. It even goes so far as to evaluate what changes would be needed legally to criminalize excessive pay. While this article may represent an extreme side of the debate, it provides a good starting point for me as I begin to brainstorm federal legislative changes which need to be made in order to decrease the gap between executives and those who fall below the poverty line.

Hartman’s Article Cited by Thesis 20 Years Later


I chose to explore Edwin Hartman’s article “Donaldson on Rights and Corporate Obligations” for this week’s cited reference search blog post.  Just to recap, the article discusses Donaldson’s belief that certain fundamental human rights generate correlative duties for the corporation, including 1) the duty to avoid depriving people of their rights, 2) the duty to help protect people from such deprivation, and 3) the duty to aid those who are deprived.  Hartman introduces a fourth category of duty to the list, which he refers to as the duty to avoid helping to deprive. He argues that the corporation is not obligated to contribute to protecting anyone from deprivation, but it needs to make sure that no action it takes helps the depriver succeed in depriving.

Since the article was published in 1991, I thought that it would be interesting to see what other publications have cited it since then.  Using Google Scholar, I found that Hartman’s original article had only been cited by 3 other publications.

The one I chose to examine more closely is “La responsabilidad moral de la empresa. Una revisión de la teoría de Stakeholder desde la ética discursiva”/”The moral responsibility of the business. A review of the Stakeholder theory from discursive ethics”.  It is a doctoral thesis presented by Elsa González Esteban and directed by Dr. Domingo Garcia-Marza of the Universitat Jaume I de Castellón.  It was published in 2011, so it is rather recent information.  In total, it has 576 pages and it is written in Spanish.  Continue reading

Stakeholder Pressure Keeping You Up At Night?


For the blog posting this week I chose to use a “piece of knowledge” on Freeman. An optional reading for our session 4 class back in February was Edward Freeman’s Stakeholder Theory of the Modern Corporation.  Ever since taking Management 101 the concept of stakeholders has interested me: how to identify who is a stakeholder, are their various levels, how does one encapsulate the needs of stakeholders and somehow make that align or fit within what the mission of the overall corporation is, etc.

I searched Stakeholder Theory and Freeman within the Web of Knowledge database. Since Stakeholder Theory of the Modern Corporation itself is within another piece of work, I browsed around a bit, checking out other pieces of work by Freeman regarding stakeholder theory. I spent some time searched within those for different terms, such as Wal-Mart, but did not come up with many results nor any I was particularly interested in. I eventually narrowed my focus onto Stakeholder Theory and “the corporate objective revisited” . This has been cited 76 times within the Web of Knowledge database! In settling on this document, I began sifting through the  76 items cited; I wasn’t really thrilled with this set of resources either. I eventually found an article that, from it’s abstract at least, appeared really interesting: Social Sustainability in Selecting Emerging Economy Suppliers by M. Ehrgott, F. Reimann, L. Kaufmann, and C.R. Carter. The source of the article is Journal of Business Ethics. I did a cited reference search on this article as well, but it has only been cited 3 times within Web of Knowledge.

The abstract provides great insight into what the study was about Continue reading

They knew we were American by our teeth


Last spring semester I took part in the 1.5 credit program course Conflict and Peace in Northern Ireland.  This program course during the spring prepared the class for a short-term study abroad program known as Bucknell in Northern Ireland (BUNI). The program is a collaboration of Bucknell, International Conflict Research Institute (INCORE), and the University of Ulster-Magee College. This service-learning program focuses on the histories and cultures of people in Northern Ireland. From mid-May to early June, we stayed in Derry/Londonderry. We briefly visited the Republic of Ireland as well. Despite the constant overcast and rain showers, it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen! (my pictures don’t even do it justice)

    

 

Political capitals of the countries Ireland an...

Political capitals of the countries Ireland and Northern Ireland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Please note that Northern Ireland is part of the UK. It is not united with the rest of Ireland (the Republic) which is independent of British rule. As you may know, society in Northern Ireland is recovering from a period of sectarian conflict. The worst part of this conflict is referred to as “The Troubles” (late 1960s-1990s). This conflict between Catholics (Nationalists/Republicans) and Protestants (Unionists/Loyalists) was the spark of much violence in Northern Ireland during their history. When we, as Americans, think of these time periods, we see them as so long ago. To society in Northern Ireland, their history is still very much alive, like it was only yesterday. Continue reading

Hoping for a Brighter Future


During Spring Break of my junior year, I participated in the A.C.E.S. Bucknell Service Trip to the Dominican Republic.  The experience was truly eye-opening as it was the first time that I had witnessed extreme poverty firsthand.  Some of the areas that the Bucknell group visited were more developed, especially the Colonial District and places closer to Santo Domingo.  However, other small villages were extremely poor.  The communities where we did the medical clinic and the food drive were rather shocking to me.

The medical clinic was set up at a school and all the participants, including doctors, nurses, and our student group, were volunteers.  Many people, both young and old, came seeking medical attention.  I remember being in the “dentist” classroom and seeing the instruments lined up on a table.  Some volunteers were sterilizing them in bowls of soap and water.  One part that I will never forget was holding up a young girl’s head to support it while she had a tooth pulled.  She sat in a wooden desk chair and no Novocain was used.  I had to look away when her mouth began bleeding and I sensed that she was in pain.  After, all I could do was smile and tell her that she was very brave.  I recall thinking to myself, “Wow, this is their health care.” Continue reading

¡VIVA GUATEMALA!


Last week during Spring Break 2012, I was lucky to visit the Lake Atitlan region of Guatemala. I am working on an interdisciplinary project with a group of Mechanical Engineers to help bring affordable eye care to rural regions of developing countries. Essentially, our goal is to establish a sustainable business in Guatemala (our first stop) that can provide affordable eye care to those who currently can’t afford the high prices. Our business would not conduct surgery but rather focus on diagnostics and prescriptions. Our colleagues in Mechanical Engineering are helping to provide the tools necessary to make diagnoses at an affordable price.

After visiting Lake Atitlan, I was struck by the strong indigenous culture and physical beauty of the region. Lake Atitlan has become one of Guatemala’s top tourist destinations. It is located in the department of Solola in the Guatemalan highlands. The lake is immediately surrounded by volcanoes and mountains which makes travel to the lake a bit more challenging. The three volcanoes which circle the lake are San Pedro, Toliman, and Atitlan. The lake itself was formed about 85,000 years ago as a result of a huge volcanic eruption which created a depression in the landscape. That depression filled with water and became the freshwater lake that we know today. There are several villages that border the lake. I was able to stop in five of them during my stay: San Pedro, Santiago, Panajachel, Solola, and San Juan. Panajachel is the most touristy of the lake villages and has about 14,000 residents. Despite the commercialization, Mayan culture and traditions remain a strong influence in the other towns around the lake.

I want to revisit Guatemala because I feel that I have a lot more to learn. More time in the Lake Atitlan region would be beneficial; however, there is a lot more to see. Cities like Antigua would add to my understanding of the culture. In addition, I was disappointed that I didn’t get to see any Mayan ruins. Cities with the ruins, Tikal and Yaxha, are on the other side of the country. Also, our team only spent one day in Guatemala City, visiting hospitals and universities. Additional time in the capital to visit with politicians, lawyers, and micro-finance initiatives would be incredible.

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Feeney Finds Out


The TV episode I chose to examine from a business, government, and society perspective is from the show Boy Meets World.  I am sure many of you are familiar with the sitcom comedy-drama, as it aired for seven seasons on ABC from 1993 through 2000, but for those of you who aren’t, I will sum it up.  Basically, the show chronicles the experiences and everyday life lessons in the world of Cory Matthews, your typical teenage boy from Philadelphia as he grows up from a young boy, through middle school, high school, college, and later married life.

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BLOG INSTRUCTIONS

Blog 5 before session 6 What (interest) or Who (person) Inspires You? For this week’s prompt, the Blog Council wants you to examine how this class relates to your own interests. So, please write about how this class relates to some of your own intellectual or other learning interests. We are NOT interested in how it relates to a specific career goal. Plan B: same idea, but based on a person. See whole post for details.

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