Exploring Our Personal Stories: Professor Brock Spencer on Books@Work

Exploring Our Personal Stories: Professor Brock Spencer on Books@Work

We recently had the chance to speak with Brock Spencer, who recently retired as the Kohnstamm Professor of Chemistry at Beloit College where he taught environmental and interdisciplinary courses in addition to a range of chemistry courses. Brock has been involved nationally in NSF-funded projects to develop and disseminate an inquiry-based approach and instructional materials to better engage students in their introductory chemistry courses.

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Who Reads Shakespeare?

Who Reads Shakespeare?

This American Life’s “Act V” tells the story of “one of the most evocative productions of Shakespeare done anywhere in 2002,” not on Broadway or the West End, but at a high-security prison in eastern Missouri. Arranged by an organization called Prison Performing Arts, the prison staged one act of Hamlet every six months. “Act V” portrays the prisoners’ preparation for and production of Hamlet’s final climactic act.

So how can prison inmates, many of whom have never finished high school, stage a production of one of Shakespeare’s most philosophical plays?

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Weekend Reading: July 2017

Weekend Reading: July 2017

In the Harvard Business Review, novelist and advisor to technology entrepreneurs and investors Eliot Peper argues that business leaders should be reading science fiction – and shows us why “companies like Google, Microsoft and Apple have brought in science fiction writers as consultants.” What makes a genre that we so often associate with futuristic worlds or spaceships so useful to someone in the C-suite?

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Beware the Bullet Point: Critical Thinking and Well-Told Stories

Beware the Bullet Point: Critical Thinking and Well-Told Stories

At first, some are skeptical of the role literature can play in corporate settings. After all, a novel (or short story or play) can take a long time to make even a single point about human experience. In Hamlet, for example, Shakespeare expends 30,000 words to provide a window on the pitfalls of decision-making. Wouldn’t a short article (or even a PowerPoint presentation) more efficiently summarize the salient factors that produce good or bad decisions for work teams? But what might we miss?

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Changing Philosophies: Creating Open and Inclusive Workplaces

Changing Philosophies: Creating Open and Inclusive Workplaces

Recent research leaves little doubt that open, connected and inclusive organizations consistently outperform peers in employee wellbeing, innovation and workplace productivity. But the culture required to maintain openness and inclusion assumes an authentically collective mindset – a mindset that differs considerably from the individual focus that dominates Western society. How do we override centuries of Western thinking and open ourselves up to new philosophies of human relationships at work?

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Reading Mindfully: Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl”

Reading Mindfully: Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl”

Jamaica Kincaid’s short story “Girl” appeared in the New Yorker in 1978 and later went on to become one of the most anthologized short stories of all time. Brief and powerful, “Girl” reads as a “how-to” list for living relayed from mother to daughter in a mere 650 words.

As you read, consider: Do the expectations of parents or family members help or hinder you? Or both?

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The Power of Experience

The Power of Experience

One of the most amazing discoveries to come out of Books@Work is the power of participant life experience. Unlike a traditional classroom-based seminar, in which the professor and text have something to teach the students, the power of our model is that it fosters the unique collision of three important elements: professor expertise, text and participant experience.

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Books@Work Goes to College: Our Wellness Programs with University Staff and Faculty

Books@Work Goes to College: Our Wellness Programs with University Staff and Faculty

When we think of workplace wellness, we tend to think of physical health: weight loss challenges, gym reimbursements, on-site flu vaccinations, or fitness trackers. There are clear benefits to keeping a workforce healthy and strong, like fewer sick days and lower healthcare costs. But a large research university that recently completed two Books@Work programs sees wellness in a whole new light.

Is physical health really the only factor that affects employee well-being – or is there more to wellness than we think?

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Weekend Reading: June 2017

Weekend Reading: June 2017

Happy Friday! We’ve scoured the web for thought-provoking articles and essays for you to enjoy during our first full weekend of summer.

The Beatles convinced us that “we get by with a little help from our friends” – but is there actual science to back that up? Over at the New York Times, Jane E. Brody reports on recent studies out of Harvard, Duke, Stanford and more that stress how critical social interaction is for our mental and physical health.

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Being Asked to Dance: The Key to Diversity Is Inclusion

Being Asked to Dance: The Key to Diversity Is Inclusion

Most leaders know that diversity and inclusion go hand-in-hand. But like many concepts in the business world, “diversity and inclusion” has become a buzzword phrase, something that we speak of frequently but may not fully understand.

In a talk at the AppNexus Women’s Leadership Forum in 2015, diversity consultant Vernā Myers brilliantly described the difference between diversity and inclusion: “Diversity is being invited to the party,” she said. “Inclusion is being asked to dance.”

So why is inclusion so hard?

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