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Social Science

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Torture Interrogations


In my White Paper, I focused on educating the reader on the practices of torture and its use in prisoner interrogations, providing evidence supporting and condoning these practices, and ultimately suggesting policies to aid Army executives on the subject of torturing. The use of torture has been documented well throughout history, primarily used as a form of intimidation and aggression from one group to another. However, this ancient practice has turned into an information-gathering tool from incarcerated prisoners in modern times. These torture interrogations hope to physically and psychologically breaking down helpless prisoners to the point that they relay vital information to their torturers.

Evidence points to the United States Army as utilizing such techniques to gather intel from captive terrorists. While many countries admit to using torture interrogations, the fact that the United States uses similar strategies is nothing short of appalling. Though the United States is involved in a difficult War on Terror, the country who holds individual’s rights above all else should focus on leading by example with the way she treats her prisoners. Therefore, it is shocking that the United States has been implicated in numerous torture interrogation scenarios, such as Bagram Prison, Guantanamo Bay, and Abu Ghraib.

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Unreasonable At Sea!


Hi all,

Not related to a blog assignment, but I just wanted to share: my abroad alma mater, Semester at Sea (which I think I’ve managed to talk about in 95% of my blog posts and comments), is teaming up with a project called the Unreasonable Institute to further global learning and entrepreneurs.

The Unreasonable Institute is a ridiculously cool program which I just found out about a few hours ago, when someone from my SAS voyage posted this video on their pairing on our Facebook voyage wall. From their website:

“We are solving the world’s biggest problems by arming the entrepreneurs who can take them on with the mentorship, capital, and network to make it happen.

Each year, we unite 25 entrepreneurs from every corner of the globe to live under the same roof for six weeks in Boulder, Colorado. These entrepreneurs receive training and build long-term relationships with 50 world-class mentors, ranging from the former Managing Director of Investments at Google.org, to the CTO of HP, to an entrepreneur who’s enabled over 19 million farmers to move out of poverty. In the process, they also form relationships and build their businesses with 20 investment funds, receive legal advice & design consulting, and pitch to hundreds of potential investors and partners.”

These 25 chosen entrepreneurs are deemed the “Unreasonable Fellows” and are picked through an intense selection process; each entrepreneur must be nominated by one of UI’s 140 partners, and go through a 3 stage selection process. And – get ready! – next year, the Unreasonable Fellows will be joining the spring voyage of Semester at Sea to sail around the world and spread their knowledge all over! Their program is named Unreasonable At Sea; they call it transnational entrepreneurship. The Fellows will sail to 14 countries to meet with top government officials, pitch their ideas in front of hundreds of investors, and meet with each country’s top entrepreneurs as well. And I can personally attest that the 600 students who will be joining them on that voyage are all intelligent, driven, and wildly creative; the chances that someone’s idea will not grow, improve, or spread is likely extremely low. This is a truly remarkable spread of global technology and knowledge.

If this does not somehow manage to integrate everything we’ve been talking about in the past few weeks AND the most life-changing, amazing experience ever, I just don’t know what else would fit that list of superlatives. (Excuse me for being sappy, yesterday was my 1 year anniversary of my return to the States after SAS, and I’ve been sad about it all day.) Watch the video here:

Enjoy!

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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Let Students Drink…Legally


The video posted above outlines the debate for lowering the drinking age in the US from 21 to 18.  College campuses are rampant with students drinking illegally – and all are at risk.  The number of alcohol related deaths has increased in recent years, and we have seen a crackdown on campuses regarding student safety.    Even on Bucknell, fraternities have been kicked off and put on probation because of drinking violations, among other things.  Stringent guidelines have been put in place at Bucknell to “register” parties, and yet these rules have backfired, as students have destroyed the downtown area known to Lewisburg locals as the “ghetto.”

Lowering the drinking age to 18 would make the act of drinking less of a taboo action for young people and allow them to be more knowledgeable about alcohol and its consequences by the time students left for college.  More experience and more acceptance of it at home would result in an increased knowledge about the dangers of alcohol.  There are certain drawbacks to the law, but the benefits far outweigh the costs as college campuses would be safer with more students understanding how to safely consume alcohol at a younger age.  Money would not be wasted on town/campus police patrolling students’ homes for parties and illegal drinking.  The current law of having to be 21 to drink is not effective, as we see those younger than 21 drink extremely frequently.  College wouldn’t be thought as a place to go to drink because many would be able to legally drink before attending.  A person can vote, sit on a jury, and go to war for their country at the age of 18.  Why can’t they have a beer?

Turning Student Debt Into Opportunity


A college education is expensive.  And necessary for many careers.

Many students, facing faster-than-inflation cost increases and sluggish growth in government loans, take on more and more private debt to finance their education.  The average debt per borrower is now over $25,000 across all types of institutions, up from $19,000 ten years ago.  65% of students who entered Bachelor’s level-granting schools in 2008 graduated with debt.

Those indebted students forgo many of the choices and benefits of a broad education due to an obsession with “will it pay off” thinking.

Meanwhile, too many graduating students focus only on jobs with the highest salary for them to pay off their debts rather than careers that they are passionate about or that we need more of.  For example, there are dire shortages of nurses and teachers.  Many young entrepreneurs are unable to start a business due to debt obligations.

Three problems: 1) excessive debt; 2) obsession with “jobs” while choosing college courses; 3) misallocation of human capital into society’s labor needs.

One solution: student debt repayment should be based on ability to pay instead of absolute amount.

Pay what you can, not what you owe.

How would it work?  All qualified college loans would be repaid using a sliding scale formula.  If you make less than a threshold, depending on your family size, you pay nothing.  Once you are above the threshold (maybe 150% of poverty level), then you pay 10-15% of your income to your debts with a hard cap of around 20%.  Currently, the Obama administration started this for federal grants.  However, the private, for-profit sector still dominates.  Pay what you can plans should cover ALL loans.   Whatever losses it incurs can be absorbed by the federal government.  The upside will be more people finishing college, better educational choices while in college, better job fit after graduation, and all the economic and social benefits of these improvements.

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

Eastern Travels


I have always wanted to visit India. The different lifestyle, culture, and geography of the area has intrigued me since I was in high school. I have not been lucky enough to interact with many people who have ventured over to the country, but my passion for visiting this area is simply based on experiencing a completely different area than I am accustomed to. My travels have taken me to many different areas in the Western hemisphere, but despite the many economic and social situations present in these locations, none of them have presented totally opposite ways of life. As a Seattle times article questions best, “Where else could you find yourself driving in a three-wheeled open-air taxi in four lanes of traffic clogged with cars, cows, camels, elephants, motorcycles and rickshaws; riding a camel into the desert; walking barefoot on the marble floors of the Taj Mahal; floating along tropical lagoons in a houseboat and hiking in the mountains, all in the same three-week trip?”

My interest in the Eastern Hemisphere first originated from learning about the Eastern Religions. I was taught that crowds of Indian Hindus would take to the streets, chanting their prayers loud enough for the entire city to hear. This intense devotion to religion manifested itself in little alcohol to drink and a thorough dedication to spirituality. The religious aspect of India also manifests itself in beautiful Hindu temples and Buddhist monasteries, images that most of us have seen in National Geographic magazine covers. 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

Are We Okay? Well, I Think I Will Be…


Reading the prompt, my immediate thought was, oh I know where this is going. We are still racist. We are still sexist. Women are treated as inferiors, but feminism is a trigger word for debates and piss-poor attitudes. And I will certainly agree that we are not all equal, not in terms of race or gender, religion or sexuality, socioeconomic backgrounds, etc. As you can tell from the posts, we’ve all seen it ourselves. I could tell you the typical stories of being advised not to travel without men whilst abroad, of higher auto insurance rates for men (read an article on anti-discriminatory insurance rates in the UK here), of being afraid walking outside at night. But I’ll leave that to my classmates. Instead, I’ll use this time to talk about horses! (Are you sensing a theme in my conversation habits yet?)

I am a three-day eventer – a good basic explanation of eventing can be found here. I have ridden for 14 years, across just about every riding discipline you can imagine, and finally settled on eventing 7 years ago. I’ve ridden all four collegiate years on Bucknell’s equestrian team, serving as secretary and then captain for the years before I went abroad, and now serving as (the unofficial) show team manager. I also ride three days a week at another barn in Milton, and while I’m home, I am at the barn every single day. Horses are truly my life. Laugh all you want, but when you find the one thing that motivates you to get out of bed every morning, that gives you hope for your future when everything seems to be going wrong, you know what I’m talking about. So what does this have to do with our blog post? Continue reading

My Polly-Pocket Perspective


When I first discovered what we were supposed to be writing about this week, I was not excited. That hasn’t changed. Therefore, I apologize in advance for any lack of enthusiasm that will be exposed too from this post. My main lack of excitement for this subject is simply because I think people get too focused on it. This subject distorts people’s vision of the world, and the negativity involved in this area is too frustrating. This subject is too concentrated on subjective experiences, preconceived notions, generalizations, and assumptions that I prefer not to dwell on it. And it is easy for me to restrain from worrying about gender and racial issues mainly because I am a white male, so I admit that my own perspective is riddled from the lack of subjective experiences I have had. Also, I do feel awful for those individuals who have experienced the sting of false racial or gender biases. However, focusing on the philosophical side of such an issue innately turns me off.

To put it simply, I don’t care. I don’t care if someone is black, white, yellow, or green, male, female, or androgynous, or tall or small or skinny or fat. Each and every one of us is living our own life, with different backgrounds, experiences, demographics, interests, and talents. Therefore, we should all make the best effort possible to appreciate one another for what we bring to the table. Do we have to like everyone? Nope. But how can you truly rationalize to yourself that you have any negative (or positive for that matter) opinion about who an individual is simply based on his or her appearance? Continue reading

I Hate Being White


Race is not a biological category.  There is no Black “race” nor White nor Asian nor Native American.  One way you can tell is that in my lifetime the numbers of races keeps fluctuating.  Growing up in the South in the 1970s and 1980s, we would hear about the “White man, Yellow Man, Black Man, and Red man.”  This, mind you, was in the context of treating all “colors” the same.  Well, what in the hell are the new waves of immigrants, the “Latinos,” then?

This post is a very raw, un-researched post on my part. Continue reading

Are women incapable or do men just thrive on control?


For the post this week, rather than offer a particular personal experience tied to gender or race in America, I decided to talk about certain aspects of gender roles that have always bothered me.  To be blunt, I don’t like the idea of men doing stuff for women.  And while I will be the first to recognize that it is changing somewhat with our generation when you compare it to the extremes of the past, I still believe that there remain unresolved issues.  For more on changing gender roles, click here!

First, I don’t like the concept that the man is supposed to pay the bill when on a date.  Why can’t you split it or each pay for your own meal? (This is actually referred to as “go Dutch”.)  Second, I don’t like the notion that men are supposed to drive women places.  Let me guess…you’ve never thought about it, right?  You see females driving cars all the time.  But, how often do you see a man (of legal driving age) in a car that a woman is driving?  I don’t understand why women have to be driven around.  What’s the big deal?  And finally, I disagree with the practice of men opening and holding doors (cars included) for women.  While I will admit that it’s nice to have someone open the door for you and many women will view such an act as very “gentlemanly”, I believe that the underlying message is inherently wrong.  Continue reading

Samasource: Ending Poverty By Global Outsourcing Differently


This week’s prompt allowed me to discover an intriguing business concept as well as its leader – Samasource, founded and led by Leila Janah. Samasource works as a go-between for a company that needs some sort of technological work and a woman, youth, or refugee living in poverty. Essentially, Samasource intends to end poverty by providing the underprivileged with jobs, and therefore, an income. Well, duh, you might think – not exactly a novel concept when you get right down to it. Yet Samasource has found a clever and productive way to go about its mission. Continue reading

¡Apréndete idiomas nuevos!


One thing you may not know about me is my passion for the Spanish language. I have taken Spanish courses since I was in eighth grade, and it is my second major here at Bucknell. Last spring I studied abroad in Granada, Spain, one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. One of the things that attracted me to the Spanish language was how widely used it is, especially in the United States. In fact, Spanish is the second most used language in the U.S, and there are more Spanish speakers in the U.S. then there are speakers of Chinese, French, German, and Italian combined. I always thought that knowing a second language would be helpful, and I even considered learning Chinese (I’m pretty sure manicurists  talk about me the whole time I get my nails done- how cool would it be to know what they are saying?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(This picture shows the percentage of people in each of the states that speak Spanish)

 

Going abroad was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I have never felt so insignificant as I did when going to all of those amazing cities of cultural and historical importance. It is crazy to think about all of the different cultures there are in the world and how they are so drastically different from one another. Take Granada, for example. My host sister went to work at 9 am every morning and returned at 3 pm for lunch (the biggest meal of the day) and a siesta (nap) right afterwards. This is not to say that every working person has this same luxury, but I found it fascinating how slow the pace was in relation to the morning “rush hour” here in the U.S. It often bothered me how slow everything was there, but I learned that it is this way because Spanish people actually take the time to appreciate every encounter they have much more so than we do in the U.S.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(La hermosa Alhambra de Granada)

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Clean water – Don’t take it for granted!


I found the story of Seth Maxwell, one of the 2011 Do Something Awards Finalists, to be particularly inspiring.  Seth, a 22 year-old college graduate from Los Angeles, CA, learned from a friend that almost 1 billion people lack access to clean water and that water-borne illnesses account for more than 80% of all global disease.  He found this information troubling and immediately decided to do something about it.

He began what became known as the Thirst Project in March of 2008.  Seth, along with eight of his friends, was committed to making a difference.  They invested all their cash – about $70 in total – and purchased 1,000 bottles of water.  They distributed the free water on Hollywood Blvd. and began educating the public, through informal conversations, about the clean water crisis.  In a single day, they raised awareness and more than $1,700 in donations! Continue reading

Psycho-Ethics


I am supremely interested in the manner psychology affects the way that we construe situations and events. In this realm, my primary area of interest is social psychology, a part of psychology that causes more problems in the business-world than solutions. Social psychology focuses on the psychological impacts that a group has on one individual. Within this domain, there are many phenomena that contribute to the material that we cover, but I will focus on a couple core theories that directly relate to our cases thus far. These phenomena are obedience, groupthink, and deindividuation.

A psychological concept that is relevant to Enron’s demise is obedience. Obedience is represented by one’s willingness to disobey his or her personal values when in the presence of an authority figure asking him or her to do so. Such a phenomenon occurs even when there will be no repercussion to the individual if he or she does not comply with the authority’s demands. Stanley Milgram portrayed this concept in action by performing a study in which a subject was asked to shock a confederate of the experiment whenever this confederate answered a question incorrectly. The machine that the subjects used to shock the confederate counted up in 15 volt increments to 450 volts, past where the label above the voltages indicate a “Danger: Severe Shock” sign. As the confederate continuously got answers wrong, the subject was told to punish him incrementally by doling out higher, more dangerous shocks. Despite the labels above the voltage, cries from the confederate, and the subject’s own inhibitions, twenty-six out of forty subjects continued with the experiment until the highest shock was given to the confederate. Such an example shows the extent to which an authority figure controls underlings, regardless of their respective values and beliefs. This experiment is shown below: Continue reading

The Hershey Company: How Sweet Are Those Kisses?


Ahhh, Hershey’s. How much more relevant could they be on this day of excessive chocolate consumption? Lamentations on Single’s Awareness Day aside, Hershey’s is a company with a very high profile, both domestic and abroad. You can find a Hershey’s product calling out to every young child in the checkout aisles of grocery stores the whole world around, or in every baking aisle in a store, or dancing across our TV screens in one chocolatey form or another. Additionally, they’re considered a local company for Bucknell students – collaborations with the Milton Hershey school are not uncommon, nor are trips to the beloved Hershey Park.

But what does Hershey Co. do besides help us expand our waistlines and indulge our guilty pleasures? My investigation began on the Hershey Company website. Continue reading

Moby Dick and PSU


Just a quick note:  Professor Gruver of our own SoM has an op-ed on-line and with the Harrisburg Newspaper (I think).

He talks about leadership,
Moby Dick, and Penn State.

Enron, “Asshole,” and Research Process


“You appreciate it?” was Richard Grubman’s response to Jeff Skilling dodging his persistent questions about the financial health of Enron on April 17, 2001.

Next, Skilling called him an “asshole” on a conference call with investment managers and analysts. I had heard about this infamous and perhaps symptomatic of the problems with Enron moment for years.  I decided to see if I could actually hear it.

  1. First, I’ll say something about that the conversation.
  2. Then, I’ll discuss research process. Continue reading

The Politics of Sex: Where Does Obama Stand?


The issue of politics affecting a citizen’s private sex life is something that I find very intriguing. Whether it’s silly, outdated laws banning certain sexual acts – according to FOX News’ “Sexpert”, only missionary positions for residents of Washington D.C.! – or laws stating who you can and cannot marry, there is no denying that the issue of our government interfering with our sex lives has only grown more complex.

As Proposition 8, California’s ban on gay marriage, was ruled unconstitutional today (see a neutral news article from the NY Times here), I could not help but find an article I found from a blog about Sexuality and Society  especially relevant. Continue reading

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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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