Saturday, March 08, 2008

Sharing Knowledge


(image from plus.maths.org) The third (and final) Intensive of my second term at BGI has come and gone. Reflecting upon the first six months of my BGI MBA experience is something akin to sorting through pictures from a long vacation; "I did this?" I don't remember doing (learning) that." "It has gone by so quickly." "That assignment's due when?"

I've developed a better grasp on Economics; with Pareto Efficient outcomes, the labor extraction curve, the fall-back wage, cost of job loss, unit labor costs, etc. becoming less foreign to my digital mind. There is power in the use of the correct words and phrases in econ; care must be taken in being succinct and meaningful. Extraneous content indicates muddled thinking. A fascinating part of our discussion over the weekend was what corporations have been doing over the past 30 years to increase the cost of job loss, an activity that makes it more difficult for workers to move, and easier for employers to keep them at the lowest wage possible and exert control. It certainly sounds like a conspiracy, and there are some statistics that support the fact that
real wages for most Americans have been falling, most especially the lowest earners, since 1974. We also conducted a real-life demonstration of supply and demand; finding a market equilibrium selling fish. Then the government imposed a tax on the sellers of fish and watched the fireworks leading to a change in the number of transactions, the equilibrium price, and a dead-weight loss.

Over the course of the weekend, we had the distinct privilege of welcoming the following activists, business professionals, and all-around amazing people to BGI:

Winona, in a very approachable way, talked to us about her history of activism including chaining to power plant gates, marching all over the country, and running for office. What came out of her words for me is that it takes action of many types and on many levels to create change. Winona said a few things that bear quoting:
  • A cultural monocrop is dangerous and unsustainable (think Brave New World & We)
  • How you live your life is your spirituality
Care to think it over?...moving on...

Roger helped walk us through the challenges facing Unitus in the microfinance space. We worked on an Accounting case due for the Intensive, and did not know that Roger would be joining us. We spent a few hours working on creating metrics that Unitus could use to measure the social impact/effectiveness of their work. I learned that some of the things I take for granted, basic access to information like income levels are not familiar to people all over the world. Information like whether a family had a tin roof was a key indicator of progress out of poverty. These conversations among people of such a varied background leads to phenomenal learning opportunities.

Adam Seitchik made the journey to Bainbridge from Boston to help us understand what has been happening in the SRI world and what role BGI students may have in it. He was very approachable, and though his explanations were on the lengthy side, they were quite informative. I learned about the First Affirmative Financial Network, something that may help me become an investor that integrates social issues into their portfolio. Oh, and he helped start a rousing game of Quarters that will surely live on in the memories of BGI alumni.
As a testament to the attention BGI and sustainability is receiving from others in higher education, three members of Babson College including members of the Center for Entrepreneurship spent part of the weekend with us. Part of me was excited to see a "mainstream" biz school sharing laughter and learning with us, and part of me was a bit protective of the BGI experience. An interesting reaction to observe in myself.

So thinking of getting a green MBA?
Here's a small taste of the wit and wisdom of one of BGI's econ professors, Yoram Bauman. I would contest is translation of rule #4...though I am not sure why. You too could experience this knowledge and levity by applying to BGI.

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