Tag Archives: non-profits

Use Your Career to Change the World

The last few years have seen a crazy world take shape in front of us. Between climate crisis, the pandemic, economic upheaval, wars, racial inequality, gender issues, and political turmoil, it makes one wonder how to best contribute to building a better world for the future.

After all, it feels good when we make a positive impact. It can be a small change such as contributing a few dollars to someone in need, or it can be a larger change such as starting a new program or organization for social justice or community service. And of course our jobs and careers can also contribute to making positive changes, either through donating money or using our time to make inroads to solving issues.

A movement called “Effective Altruism” formed in the late 2000s by Oxford University philosophers uses science and data to determine how people can use their time and skills to do the most good in society. When the movement first began it focused on lucrative careers so as to generate more money to contribute to important causes. But that has morphed into other approaches to doing good with our careers. This has been particularly true in the past few years during the pandemic as workers consider their purpose and meaning of their work.

This led to the nonprofit called “80,000 Hours” which evolved from Effective Altruism to help people design careers where they can do good things in the world. Why 80,000 hours? On average, today’s workers are likely to spend 80,000 hours working over a 40-year period (40 hours/week x 50 weeks/year).

But how does someone find the right career to pursue? What is our best opportunity to have a positive impact in the world? 80,000 Hours gives advice to job-seekers who are looking for high-impact jobs that address the social problems that concern them. Perhaps it is working at a start-up company focused on a new medical intervention, or a technology company focused on climate change.

The four main factors for defining your impact are:

  1. Help solve a more pressing problem.
  2. Find a more effective solution.
  3. Find a path with more leverage.
  4. Find work that fits you better.

Think about it.

What issues drive you? Where can you do the most good?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. This is a slightly softer activity that the usual ones about creating a new marketing program. But, it is very relevant to today’s students.
  2. Discuss the importance impacting local and global issues for the future benefit.
  3. Poll students: What are their concerns for the future? With what issues would they like to get involved?
  4. The following two organizations and websites can take some time to review. Set aside some class time to allow teams to review the articles and approaches.
  5. Show the website for Effective Altruism: https://www.effectivealtruism.org/
  6. A video explanation: https://youtu.be/nwhoSX9AFXU
  7. Show the website for 80,000 hours: https://80000hours.org/
  8. A video for 80,000 hours: https://youtu.be/1xsR0XBwyo4
  9. Divide students into teams and have each team prepare a summary of what was learned from these websites.
  10. Consider a discussion board or assignment that focuses students on the topic of how to use their skills.

Sources: Varagur, K. (Oct. 10, 2021). Can your career help change the World? Wall Street Journal.

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Wing Drones Can Now Deliver Girl Scout Cookies

When you get a cookie craving do you go to the store? Poor you. If you lived in a Christiansburg, Virginia, a community that tests commercial delivery drones, you could get Girl Scout cookies delivered directly to your front lawn!

Christiansburg has been testing Wing drones since 2019. Wing is the drone subsidiary of Alphabet (Google’s parent company). The main delivered products are rather mundane, such as pastries, tacos, and coffee. But now – Wing will be delivering those tasty Thin Mints (my personal favorite) and more. Wing worked with the local Girl Scout troops who said they have had a harder time selling cookies during the pandemic. And, let’s face it, delivering cookies is an excellent way to garner public support for commercial drone services.

Wing’s drones can carry items up to 3.3 pounds that fit into a special aerodynamic package. The drones don’t actually land in your yard; drones hover over a designated delivery area and lower the package to the ground using a string. Customers then retrieve the package from the delivery area. The drones fly lower than 400 feet and cannot be near airports. Items range from foods, flowers, medicine, and more. In addition to the U.S. location, Wing is also delivering via drone in select locations in Australia and Finland.

Now, how many boxes of cookies do you want?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Have them think of all the products that could be delivered by drones.
  2. In order to be successful, companies must be able to physically get a product into the hands of the customers. Discuss how a distribution channel works.
  3. For Girl Scout cookies, what distribution channels are used now?
  4. How can the channel be expanded? What approach could be used?
  5. Show videos of Girl Scout cookie delivery: https://youtu.be/DFfsepDkTkA
  6. What can a drone deliver? https://youtu.be/HVDZgTJ8JLA
  7. View Wing’s Website for additional information and videos: https://wing.com/
  8. How does drone delivery change the experience? Positive or negative?
  9. Finally, what types of companies will benefit from the use of drone deliveries?

Source: Associated Press; USA Today; other news sources

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The World Needs a Better Toilet

In the United States we seldom think about the importance of toilets. Good hygiene and working sewage is just something that the average citizen assumes will always be there, and always work. However, this is not true for the rest of the world where hygiene is a critical health and wellness issue.

More than half of the world’s population – roughly 4.5 billion people – live without access to toilets and the safe sanitation they provide. Estimates are that globally, unsafe sanitation costs the world’s population $223 billion (yes, billion) a year in higher health care costs, lost productivity, and lost wages. It is an issue that The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is taking very seriously, pledging $200 million over the past seven years to help reinvent toilets, and pledging another $200 million more to get companies to understand the problem – and business –  of human waste.

At the Reinvented Toilet Expo, held last fall in Beijing, companies showcased new toilets that could recycle water, separate urine from other waste, and even with solar roofs. Mr. Gates told the audience that human waste contains 200 trillion rotavirus particles, 100,000 parasitic worm eggs, and other harmful organisms.

This might not be an easy subject to discuss, and a lot of bad jokes will undoubtable be told in class, but it is an issue that affects the world, and one that product innovation can help to solve.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the business of waste, sanitation, and fixtures.
  2. What happens when sanitation is poor? What are the impacts?
  3. Show Bill Gates video: https://youtu.be/M9nRsJinHhM
  4. View Gates Foundation site: https://www.gatesfoundation.org/
  5. View Toilets for People for an example of a business: https://www.toiletsforpeople.com/
  6. Have students research other companies with a similar mission and objective.
  7. What social issues matter to the students?

Source: Wee, Sui-Lee (6 Nov. 2018). In China, Bill Gates encourages the world to build a better toilet. New York Times.

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