Dr. Sheena Iyengar, The Art of Choosing, The Hotchkiss School, Friday, Sept. 7, 2012 7:30PM
Event Date : 06/17/2012
Chaos reigns. Confusion abounds. Information overload how can I cope? It isn’t the theme of a new Woody Allen movie. It is the real life world in which we all have to make choices about what we buy, how we dress and what information we really need to know. It is also the specialty of our next Forum speaker and author of The Art of Choosing.

Through entertaining and illuminating stories and examples, Dr. Sheena Iyengar shows how complex our decision-making processes truly are. Are more choices enabling or crippling? Does careful planning always help us make better decisions? How do our environments affect our preferences? Her examination of consumers’ choices exposes the psychological realities that drive the marketing world.

Sheena Iyengar, Ph.D. is the inaugural S.T. Lee Professor of Business at Columbia Business School, with a joint appointment in the Department of Psychology at Columbia University. She is also Director of the Global Leadership Matrix (GLeaM) initiative and Research Director at the Jerome A. Chazen Institute of International Business at Columbia Business School.

Dr. Iyengar earned a doctorate in Social Psychology at Stanford University. She has a BA in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and a dual BS degree in economics from the Wharton School of Business. She won the Presidential Early Career Award for Social Scientists. She was a Whitebox Advisors Visiting Scholar at the Yale School of Management International Center for Finance.

Her book The Art of Choosing won the Gold Medal in General Business/Economics from Axiom Business Book Awards. It was a Top Ten Business and Investing Books of 2010 at Amazon.com. It was on the Best Business Book of The Year Shortlist 2010 Financial Times/Goldman Sachs. She is a Fellow of The Society for Personality and Social Psychology, a Fellow of the TIAA-CREF Institute and an Academic Member of the Behavioral Finance Forum.

James F. Hoge, Jr. "The Rise of China and the Challenge to America", Friday, Oct. 26, 2012, 7:30PM, Housatonic Valley Regional High School
Event Date : 06/08/2012
Our attention is focused on the election November 6th, whether there will be a change in government and, if so, what changes that would mean. Two days later the Chinese Communist Party Congress will meet for its once in a decade change of leadership. Factional infighting is marking this political transition. What changes are made in Beijing are also very important for us.

James F. Hoge, Chairman of Human Rights Watch and former editor of Foreign Affairs magazine says the U.S.-China relationship is vital to the prosperity and security of both countries, the Asian region and the globe

The Chinese economy is the second biggest in the world and could surpass the United States in the next 10 to 15 years. China passed the U.S. as the world’s biggest car market three years ago and in three more years Chinese Consumers may buy more cars than those in the U.S., Germany and Japan combined. China holds more than 20 per cent of all foreign-owned U.S. Treasury securities.

“Both countries cooperate on a number of economic issues and some security ones. But the relationship is increasingly marked by tension, disagreement and competiveness,” Hoge says. “There is rising concern over China’s slowing economy, its growing nationalism and its neighbors’ alarm over Chinese claims to adjacent seas,” he says.

China recently put its first aircraft carrier into service. Although officials say it will be used for training purposes delivery of the ship comes at a time China and Japan are in a dispute over some islands in the East China Sea. There are also overlapping territorial claims between China and several Southeast Asian nations.

“The United States is publicly expanding its ties to other Asian countries and shifting military resources to the region,” Hoge reports. “Fresh tensions are being generated by the political transitions underway in both countries this fall,” he says. China is the target of trade threats. The United States has launched a wide-ranging trade complaint against China’s support for the export of car parts. China then filed a complaint at the World Trade Organization challenging the new U.S. law on tariffs designed to combat such export subsidies.

Race France To France Friday, May 18, 2012, 7:30PM, Seifert Theater, Salisbury School.
Event Date : 05/18/2012
Rich Wilson was one of 30 competitors who entered the 2008-2009 Vendee Globe, solo, non-stop, round the world sailing race. After 121 days of hurricane force winds, crushing fatigue and broken gear he was one of only 11 starters to complete the grueling 28,790 mile race. At 58 he was the oldest skipper in the race. He was also the only American and the only asthmatic. Along the way he endured broken ribs, a facial gash and compressed vertebrae. At one point he had to climb the 90 foot mast on his 60′ monohull Great American III to keep going.

Rich Wilson began sailing with his Dad at the age of 3. Over the years he has set three world sailing records: From San francisco to Boston by way of Cape Horn in 1993, New York to Melbourne by way of Cape of Good Hope in 2003 and Hong Kong to New York by way of Cape of Good Hope in 2003. In 1990 he suffered a disastrous double capsize in 65′ seas off Cape Horn. But he survived to successfully challenge the record for that route held by the great clipper ships. He is described as articulate, philosophical, humorous and modest. “Having been upside down in a trimaran 400 miles west of Cape Horn in 65′ seas, I know my place in the universe, and it is small,” he says. 

Wilson has led a diverse and accomplished life. He earned an A.B. Degree in Mathmatics at Harvard College and has Master’s Degrees from M.I.T. and Harvard Business School. He taught math in Boston, was a defense analyst on B-52s and cruise missiles, was a writer for the Dukakis presidential campaign and wrote Racing a Ghost Ship which won the 1997 Scientific American Young Readers Book Award. He was named “Super Achiever” by the American Lung Association.

Now a motivational speaker he is the President and Founder of sitesAlive!, an online, interactive, learning adventure series of 75 programs for K-12 education.

The Engineers of Victory Friday, April 20, 2012 7:30PM, Elfers Hall, Eastman Music Center, The Hotchkiss School.
Event Date : 04/20/2012
Paul M. Kennedy, J. Richardson Dilworth professor of British history at Yale University. Author of 19 books including The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, The Parliament of Man, and soon to be released The Engineers of Victory.

Who really won World War II? Was it Roosevelt or Churchill or Marshall or Eisenhower? It was none of the above according to British historian Paul Kennedy. They may have drafted the grand alliances or formulated the master strategies, but it was thousands of men and women assigned specific tasks who had to solve the problems of an incredibly complex worldwide endeavor and make feasible the efforts of millions of Allied soldiers, sailors and airmen. They weren’t the inventors of new weapons or systems. They were tinkerers. Like Steve Jobs in the modern era they had the imagination, vision and flexibility to learn from their mistakes and increase the value of existing technology to unheard of levels.

Because of their build up of military power in the 1930s the Axis powers gained stunning successes in the early years of the war. The Allies may have had greater resources, but when they convened the Casablanca conference in January 1943 the Allies faced enormous challenges. However, in the next 17 months the tides were turned in the greatest conflict known to human history. What Kennedy examines is how those successes were engineered and by whom. “In this sense,” he says “engineers” are not strictly meant here as people possessing a B.Sc. or Ph.D. in Engineering (although the founder of the Seabees, Admiral Ben Moreell, and the inventor of the mine-detector, Josef Kosacki, certainly did), but as those falling into the Webster Dictionary’s wider definition: “a person who carries through an enterprise through skillful or artful contrivance”.

Most of us have read about or seen movies about the breaking of the Enigma Code or the inspiration for the bouncing dam buster bombs or the creation of unusual tanks that could push through coastal minefields, barbed wire or hedgerows. But Kennedy says we have rarely stepped back and understood how their work surfaced, was cultivated or how these various eccentric pieces of the jigsaw-puzzle fitted into the whole. Think about the enormity of the tasks they faced. How to move millions of soldiers across oceans, how to plan five simultaneous landings on D-Day or create a powerful radar system that could be inserted in the nose of a long-range patrol aircraft and turn the tide in the Battle of the Atlantic.

This is the story Kennedy tells of how small groups of individuals and institutions, both civilian and military, succeeded in achieving victory in the critical middle years of the war. It is about what the military-operational problems were and who the problem solvers were, how they got things done and why their work constitutes an important field of study.

February 26, 2012: Human Terrain: War Becomes Academic Film Screening @ 11:30AM The Moviehouse, Millerton, NY
Event Date : 12/03/2011

‘Human Terrain’ is an expose of the U.S. effort to enlist America’s best and the brightest in a global struggle for the hearts and minds of its enemies. After winning the short battle of ’shock and awe’ in Iraq, but losing the long war to bring democracy and peace to the Middle East, the U.S. military began a controversial program to ‘operationalize’ culture as an instrument of irregular warfare. With the ‘Revolution in Military Affairs’ that produced hi-tech, low-casualty victories in Panama, Bosnia, and Kosovo tarnished by long and costly counter-insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army and Marine Corps enlist anthropologists, political scientists, historians, and other academics in ‘Human Terrain Systems’ for the global war on terror.

Filmmakers James Der Derian, David Udris and Michael Udris track this major shift in U.S. military policy as it ripples through American universities and civil society. Simultaneously a road-trip into the heart of the war machine and a critical investigation of academic collaboration with the military, ‘Human Terrain’ traces a new ‘revolution in military affairs’ after U.S. policies based on virtual technologies and virtuous ideologies fail to create peace, and foot soldiers are left to clean up the mess.

December 2, 2011: The Humanities In The Age of Disenchantment 7:30PM, Seifert Theater, Salisbury School, Salisbury, CT
Event Date : 12/02/2011
Anthony T. Kronman, J.D., Ph.D., Author, Sterling Professor of Law (Yale Law School) Visiting Global Professor (NYU) Teacher in the Directed Studies Program (Yale).

Why are we here? Anthony Kronman says our colleges and universities are ignoring life’s biggest questions and we all pay the price. Students today find an academic environment richer than any have known before. They will find courses devoted to every question under the sun. But the questions that are missing deal with the meaning of life, what one should care about and why and what living is for.

Dr. Kronman says that in a shift of historic importance. America’s colleges and universities have largely abandoned the idea that life’s most important question is an appropriate subject for the classroom. In doing so, he says, “They have betrayed their students by depriving them of the chance to explore it in an organized way before they are caught up in their careers and preoccupied with the urgent business of living itself.”

Our top universities have embraced a research driven ideal, he says. In the process they have badly weakened the humanities, the disciplines with the oldest and deepest connections to this question, leaving them directionless and vulnerable to being hijacked for political ends. “In the sciences the adoption of the research ideal has produced astounding results” he says. “Our knowledge of the natural and social worlds,and ability to control them, is a direct result of the modern system of academic research.” He describes political correctness as a stifling culture of moral and political uniformity based on progressive ideals. But he says, “Political correctness is only a symptom, a discouraging response to a larger sense of directionlessness in the humanities.”

“America’s entire leadership class now goes to college. Infusing higher education with a new and vibrant humanism will produce benefits not only for the future leaders of business and government but for society at large,” he says. It will give us, he says, “A richer and more open debate about ultimate values; an electorate less likely to be cowed into thinking that only the faithful have the right to invoke them; a humbler regard for the mystery of life in a world increasingly dominated by technocratic reason.”

September 16, 2011 Rainforest Conservation & The Search for New Jungle Medicine 7:30PM, The Hotchkiss School, Walker Auditorium, Lakeville, CT.
Event Date : 09/16/2011
Mark J. Plotkin, Ph.D. Ethnobotanist, Author and President of the Amazon Coservation Team.

Profile writers compare Mark Plotkin to Indiana Jones and some colleagues call him the Carl Sagan of the rain forest. Plotkin has followed tribal medicine men or shamans into the deep forests to learn about the herbs and vines they use. He has witnessed their amazing cures derived from bark, sap, and trail-side herbs. He is convinced the major threat to our species is from drug resistant bacteria, and that the source of almost all classes of antibiotics has been from natural resources.

Plotkin says we have to protect biodiversity and cultural diversity because we have a lot to learn from the thousands of years of experience passed on by the shamans. He talks about potential pain killers that may be developed from cone snails, snake venom, or frog skin poison, as well as treatments for cancer derived from marine organisms and new antibiotics from natural resources.

Mark Plotkin earned his academic credits at Harvard, Yale and Tufts. His books Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice and Medicine Quest make fascinating reading about the search for new medicines in the jungles, coral reefs, deserts and deep sea vents of the world.