Thoughts about Sustainability and Career Path

I am planning to be an accountant or a business related career. I will apply what I learned in this class to help make more ethical and moral decisions. I want the company I work with to take the environment with more consideration. I will be able to think of models that are regenerative instead of degenerative. I want to see if we can make economical sustainability happen in my lifetime. I will support sustainable actions and bring up sustainable ideas but I probably will not actively pursue as a leader. I am likely to follow sustainability in healthcare, technology, and the environment. I will not take on a second field at this time.

Sustainability is the ability to provide for the needs of the people today without jeopardizing the needs of the future. I did not know anything about it before this course, but I was really convinced about sustainability being the right thing. We need to have regenerative systems in place because the degenerative systems have cause lots of damage to our society. Nature is a really good role model to follow because it has been sustainable for millions of years. There is resistance to sustainability because of corporate interests. They want to maximize consumption. I think the highlight for me was whenever I learned something I didn’t know before. There was the video with Dan Pink and I learned motivation was not related to money. I think systems thinking was the most useful information. We can make better decisions once we think about how everything affects each other. The least useful was nothing in particular.


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Thoughts about the Nature of Economies, Chapter 5 & 6

The way Jane explains habitat maintenance in “The Nature of Economies” makes a lot of sense. The current economy is the way it is now because of us only focusing on competitive success. We need to understand it with also the habitat maintenance perspective. The current economy is like the Kudzu plant, it draws resources for consumption until the capital runs out and the entire market built on it collapses. All animals and plants that have survived for long periods of time succeed at habitat maintenance. Classes today would not teach you that overweening success can lead you to extinction. We need to appeal to our morals to stop the negative spiral of our economic habitat.

In chapter 5 of “The Nature of Economies,” they talk about vicious circles. The example with the cod industry fishing all the cods out of supply reminds me of our current state of oil. The cod fishery invested more and more money to catch the dwindling number of cods. If we don’t want to end up collapsing like them, we need to invest more money into sustainable methods of energy. The car-suburban sprawl vicious circle sounds like a problem that needs fixing before it is too late too. I take the bus and am depressed at the current state of our transit system. We need to make sure positive feedback loops are only used in things that promote sustainability and instead of the unsustainable. 

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Thoughts about the Nature of the Economy

Jane Jacobs’ Cities and the Wealth of Nations and The Nature of Economies really gave me a new perspective on the economy. In chapter two of Cities and the Wealth of Nations, I learned that cities might make a better model of economic behavior than nations. The assumption that nations are the structures for understanding economic life would have a hard time explaining what happened to the hamlet of Bardou. The import-replacing concept seems to have lots of potential for making sustainable cities. Cities would reduce their imports of that good and replace it with innovated methods of producing that good with their own materials. They remain flexible with their methods to withstand the changes from distant cities. We use nations as our foundation for economic decisions and now we have cities so focused on foreign trade that they become fragile to their circumstances. We have to question our basic assumptions in order to create new ideas that satisfy human needs.

In chapter four of The Nature of Economies, I learned how businesses grow, diversify in their production and start exporting to out of their area. They grow however they can and copy good ideas. The growth then affects other industry and the city as a whole becomes an exporter. This self-refueling of the exports and gaining new imports are an interesting idea of growth. Jane also shows that diversity should not be forgotten when expanding a city’s exports. The lack of diversity removes the ability for a city to adapt and with that it’s ability to survive. These ideas show a good direction of how our economy should head for the benefit of everyone.

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Thoughts about Copyright and Implicit Association

The documentary on media’s control over our culture was interesting. I never think about the thought that only a couple of companies control a majority of the media that millions of people consume. They can easily shift the public’s view over issues by changing what they show. It is strange that you have to pay such a huge fine for royalties and copyright infringement. The video is right and the act of doing so will severely limit creativity and development of our culture. We have to build off our past in order to improve things and provide greater variety. I was extremely surprised that happy birthday song was copyrighted. This wouldn’t be a problem if we were focusing on the benefit of humanity instead of maximum consumption.

I scored that I strongly associated with European Americans. I think it is because I have been around more European Americans than African Americans. I believe it is fairly accurate and that it is important for me to address because it would create an inaccurate bias on my first impression of people. The media also played a strong part by implanting the implicit associations in my mind. I might be able to reduce it by being around African Americans more and learning more about their culture. No race or culture is inherently good or bad.

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Thoughts about Snap Decisions and Motivation

I think that Gladwell from the Warding Harding Error is right that we should accept decisions if they produce the results we want, but we should still research why. If we just accept it as mysterious than we would only be looking at the purpose and not the process. I think each part is very important. It is hard and maybe irresponsible to make important decision affecting many people based only on gut feeling. If they were wrong, it would adversely impact their lives and it could have been prevented. It is also important to know that there are things we haven’t understood yet and that our unconscious mind takes in information faster than our conscious so we should tentatively accept snap decisions. Daugherty made the wrong decision to support Harding as president with no data to support him.

Dan Pink in Drive was very informative. It is always good to question our underlying beliefs to see if they’re right. It is easy to believe things for the wrong reasons. The video taught me that people do worse when money is involved with creativity. They do worse because they narrow their mind and become unable to see the big picture. I think it makes sense the intrinsic rewards of mastery being a strong form of motivation. It gives us a sense of purpose and feel that we are making a difference. It is interesting that we run the world for the purpose of money even though it is scientifically proven that money stifles creativity and purpose.

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Thoughts about Emergence and Alternative Reality Gaming


Emergence was a completely different perspective on the world we know. The thoughts about a central command explains how animals function, but that way of thinking was too simple. It makes sense that complex structures can be made out of simple agents as long as they follows rules. It is amazing how mold colonies can look like they’re making complex decisions when examined in a big picture view. When we look at each agent, they only do simple actions based on the rules built into it. I agree that we can easily find this model in many of our systems today. I hope we continue to design new techniques in this manner because nature does it best. The structures will be very adaptive.

The alternative reality games article from also fits in the emergence structure. Each player is a simple agent and the rule they had to follow was not using oil. McGonigal was trying to observe how each simple agent responded. There was no central command to tell them to do things in a particular way. It was only missing complex structure when looked at in a big picture view. Her second example with the Microsoft video game advertisement showed that there is complex structure in alternative reality gaming. The players were reacting to stimulus and acting in a complex manner as a group. They only followed the rule which was to solve the mystery. There is great potential in collective intelligence.


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Thoughts about bio-mimicry and the economy in ecological terms

Janine Benyus’ bio-mimicry videos, 12 Sustainable Design Ideas From Nature and Biomimicry in Action, make a good point that nature already has the solution to many of our design problems. The videos bring up many examples where nature has done the processes we need in a much better way. I think it is a good idea if we can successfully copy nature and employ these techniques into our design process. If we really can copy the process without using carcinogenic material and creating waste, it would be amazing. I thought it was really amazing that there were so many examples of organisms that we should mimic. The lenses and fiber optics that we design are still being done much better by nature. She makes a very good point that creatures who could not adapt to nature are already extinct, so we are learning from plants and animals that have survive to today.

Jane Jacobs, in chapter two of The Nature of Economics, is right that, when you look back enough, everything is connected through generality. If we can understand the system and the connections between the subjects, we develop a new perspective of why the systems we have in place are not working. It was a very good comparison when they said the economy was like a gene pool. We develop more and more techniques for manufacturing products, but we also lose old techniques that are no longer in use. We need to continually increase the gene pool in order to continue to survive. Everyone is creative, so there should not be the oppression of any ideas or else we will limit the possibilities of our growth.

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Thoughts about Science and Sustainability

The video Science for the Future and the Future of Science really explains how growth and technology lead us to where we are today. The world is being consumed and people have to find new places to live because the they lived in can no longer sustain them. We put in an unsustainable amount of calories to create a small amount of calories. We have created a world where we have to do the same things as other companies if we want to stay competitive as a company. They will continue to ruin everything that is around them to be more efficient and killing people and nature with its byproducts. The world continuing in this direction will develop an even greater wealth gap and the situation will degrade because the poor will only seek fulfillment from having children.

The first chapter in The New Science of Sustainability makes a good point in trying to make things better by setting a goal. People may not have strong reactions when their goal is to save the planet, but people have to react if it is about saving human civilization. The only way for human civilization to survive is for it to develop in the direction of sustainability. We should try our best to change the system before many people get hurt in the collapse of the current system. There are many problems emerging that are growing bigger and bigger. We need to live in a way where we fix the causes of problems instead of the symptoms from now on.

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Thoughts about the Story of Stuff and Systems

The video “Story of Stuff” really makes sense. Consumerism is creating a world where it will be difficult to survive in the future. All the toxic materials will easily create an uninhabitable environment for human beings. The peer pressure to keep up with our peers’ material possession is really prevalent when you look at the people around you. It is really depressing that people work harder to earn more money only to buy more material possessions, that they won’t be able to enjoy because of the decreased leisure time they sacrificed working. We are using an incredible amount of the world’s resources and we should change the way we live our lifestyles before the world becomes irreversibly damaged and we can no longer live on it.

I feel that more people would be aware of systems if they knew the current state of the world and how it personally affects them. As long as it doesn’t affect their personal lives, people will continue to act apathetic and will not take any actions because they’re too busy with their own lives. I share those qualities. I feel that if we can reach a regenerative system, it will be a more ideal society than it is today. We should pursue a better life for ourselves without sacrificing the future generation. Systems thinking is a step forward in better understanding the world around us.

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Thoughts about Sustainability and Learning

I have no experience in sustainability. It gave me a new perspective of looking at how wasteful society is. Businesses should look at sustainability when making decisions so that they are not harming their surroundings for the future. I think sustainability in accounting is a good thing. The improving transparency and increasing accountability will make sure people accomplish their duties. It seems very tough to balance the priorities of costs and benefits to environmental, social and economic factors.

The video Teaching 2.0, Doing More With Less was very informative. It seems like a very good idea to progress education in the direction of online medium. The use of online material will be more accessible at a lower cost. You can reach out to a greater number of students than being physically present. Introverted people will have less difficulty communicating with the instructors. Everybody should have the right to learn. I hope that things continue so that in the future as long as people have access to the internet, they can learn as much as they want.

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