Tag Archives: public service

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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Stories from a Vending Machine

 

There are many crazy vending machines that can be found around the world. Recently, we wrote about the world’s largest vending machine hosted by Alibaba and Ford in China – it dispenses Ford cars! And of course there are the more common vending machines that provide beverages, foods, supplies, electronics, and many more choices. But, here is one that is very unusual – a vending machine that dispenses short stories. Yes, short stories are available from vending machines that offers a selection of timed literature in increments of one, three, or five minute stories to be read and shared.

The story began in 2016 in Grenoble, France, with a company called Short Edition, a French publisher of short-form literature; to date, they have installed more than 150 vending machines around the world. And, now, the vending machines are available in more than 30 locations around the U.S. at restaurants, schools, universities, libraries, transportation hubs, and government offices.

The vending machines dole out literature and expose more people to the creative and stress-reducing power of the written word. Push a button and a story unfurls on a long strip of paper (kind of like a register receipt). More than 100,000 original submissions are stored on a computer catalog, and genres include children’s stories, romance, holidays, and more. Short Edition procures the stories by holding writing contests, often under specific themes such as “new beginnings.”

If you want one for your school, the dispensers cost $9,200 plus $190 per month for content and software. Most stories are shared and read by multiple people.  And the best part – the stories are free of charge to print and read!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students. Have them list all the different types of vending machines that they have encountered.
  2. Show video: https://youtu.be/1Rq0eDc52g0
  3. Short Edition Web site (in English and French): https://short-edition.com/en/
  4. Note that stories are available online from the Web site also. Select one in class to have students read and comment on.
  5. Divide students into teams. Have each team come up with a promotional tactic that could be used to promote the vending machine and gain readers.

Source: Holson, L. (16 April 2018). The vending machine that spits out short stories. New York Times.

 

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Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts

Listening to the recent news of the disaster in Texas from Hurricane Harvey, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the scope of the devastation and needs of those affected by the storm. Hurricane Harvey released more than 24.5 trillion gallons of rain, devastating communities and displacing thousands of families and businesses.

But, it is often in times of greatest need that people and companies join together to help those who need it most, without asking for anything in return. Companies are providing money, food, water, donations, and solutions around the area. Some examples:

  • Anheuser-Busch stopped beer production in Georgia to instead produce more than 155,000 cans of water to areas affected by Harvey.
  • Kroger Foundation committed to $100,000 to the Houston Food Back and is donating $5 for every retweet of #KrogerCares.
  • Google pledged $2 million and is also providing urgent information to those in impacted areas, creating a real-time crisis map to help those on the ground.
  • CVS pharmacy is moving its mobile pharmacy trailers into the area to help people with medications, in addition to monetary donations.

It doesn’t stop with companies. Many celebrities and athletes have donated money directly and through foundations to help Texas residents.

Does this surprise you? It shouldn’t. Roughly 89% of global citizens think companies should use their unique abilities and assets to lend assistance during a disaster.

It feels good to help.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss with students the social responsibilities that companies have to the public. What is their opinion?
  2. Should companies publicize their contributions?
  3. Divide students into teams. Have each team research online the level of support that has been donated by companies.
  4. One list can be found at https://youtu.be/hANXIPxN1ME
  5. Build a list on the white board of the companies, donation amount, and items.
  6. Discuss the role of crisis communication during dire times.

Source:  Texas Tribune, CNN, CNBC, New York Times, other news sources

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