ISG planning notes/guidelines of 7 June

For all those of you who perhaps think I am trying to kill you with reading.
No, I am not. But I do have the job of bringing you up to speed in this complex and really very important area of technology, economy and society (we’ll really start to dig into that on Thursday), and I would be a poor teacher indeed if I did not at least push you toward as much excellence as we can muster in our three short days together. Our topic is not one that allows me to just chat and spoon feed. You have to grab the spoon and feed yourselves.

But I do try to make it a bit more productive, even hopefully at times pleasurable for you. First of all you have before you all this great wealth of course materials that are gathered here. But more to it than that, you will find in a few useful lines of first background on every item that appears in the References section of our Dashboard, as you pass our cursor over them.

Required Reading:
Let’s take the Required Reading list as an example. Here is what I would go about it if I were 26, living in Paris and with a lot of other things on my mind — but still determined to get full value out of the course for which I am paying good money. I would scroll down to the entire RR section, which at this point has something like 30 items posted there. As I scroll, I would scan the summary entries, get a first feel for the turf, and take note of the ones that I feel will be most useful to look at more closely. (I would also try for a certain balance of topics, bearing in mind the three main pillars of our course.)

I would know (hope) that my professor is probably not going to kill me if I only get, say, half way through reading the items on the list. But since my time is short I have to pick and chose. I also will note that there is some double counting there, so I would select my final reading list so as to be efficient.

So through this process I will go through no less than three levels of cognition on each topic– the title, the summary, and where I chose to dig deeper the full entry. All three are good to have.

But let’s not forget the fourth and deepest level of cognition that you should aspire to. The one you build yourself. As you move beyond the first entries. The topics that you decide are possibly going to be important for you in the future. In my case I imagine that I would tilt toward anything along the lines of carbon taxes, different ways of measuring productivity and well being, and other economic instruments and tools – but after all I am an economist. Your pick will be your own.

I would definitely follow the same pattern here. My first cursor tour will already be very useful to give me a feel for the main events that have over the last fifty year basically defined the entire field and flow. And I would certainly pick out a couple of them, knowing that there are key shaping events on that list that I really should have a feel for.

Prominent Persons:
Much the same but I rather think I would linger my cursor only over those that have been singled out by asterisks. I am pretty sure that I would dig in and read the full blurb only on the couple that really strike my eye.

The other references in this section:
I think I would treat it like a storehouse in which there are many different things, many of them interesting, but I would I am sure just wander around and pick what looks tempting here and there. I would not kill myself with reading, but I would not turn my back on something that I probably should have some feel for as a future leader in the business community.

And remember this. This is an asset for you that will not just go way after the course is over. It is part of a long term project that I have to create what I call “invisible colleges” on these key issues — so I hope that even once the course ends you will keep it bookmarked and come in for a look from time to time. A continuing resource on sustainable development, business and society.


In conclusion, let’s bear in mind that there are two opportunities for you to build on what you learn from these references. The first will be your two chosen topics for the 5 minute Quick Reports on Friday. And then the area that you chose to investigate in depth for your term paper.

But let’s get back to work now, and leave all that for Thursday and beyond.

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