Posts from "May, 2010"

Director of International Management at U Penn Explains Why Studying Language is Crucial


For starters, research indicates that effective language instruction must be culturally grounded. Acquiring a language involves learning the culture or cultures intimately associated with it. Although business students, for example, can operate in English in a large number of countries, a deeper understanding of the cultures there would enhance their performance as employees or entrepreneurs. Interactions and negotiations in English may be possible, but there is nothing like knowing the local language to become aware of the nuances and the sensitivities involved in everyday life or work situations.

We also know from research and experience that acquiring another language makes students better problem solvers, unleashing their ability to identify problems, enriching the ways in which they search and process information, and making them aware of issues and perspectives that they would otherwise ignore. I have often observed that students with exposure to two or more languages and cultures are more creative in their thinking, especially when it comes to tackling complex problems that do not have clear solutions.

Learners of languages, by exposing themselves to other cultures and institutional arrangements, are more likely to see differences of opinion and conflicts by approaching a problem from perspectives that incorporate the values and norms of others as well as their own. Knowledge of other languages also fosters tolerance and mutual understanding. Language learning is thus much more than becoming operational in an environment different than one’s own. It is a powerful way of appreciating and respecting the diversity of the world.

More here:

New York Times on What to do with a Humanities Major

In spite of some bad news (for example, announcing the closure of some classics and philosophy departments around the US), this article exposes the importance of the humanities to the marketplace. The key, the author argues toward the end of the piece, is to know what skills are valued, develop them to their fullest, and then work on bridging these skills to employment through various Humanities+ strategies (minors, internships, career workshops, etc.) that our college advisement center is working on.
Here’s an excerpt:

“There’s evidence, though, that employers also don’t want students specializing too soon. The Association of American Colleges and Universities recently asked employers who hire at least 25 percent of their workforce from two- or four-year colleges what they want institutions to teach. The answers did not suggest a narrow focus. Instead, 89 percent said they wanted more emphasis on “the ability to effectively communicate orally and in writing,” 81 percent asked for better “critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills” and 70 percent were looking for “the ability to innovate and be creative.”

State Department Now Accepting Applications for Spring 2011 Internships

The 2011 Spring Student Internship Program is now accepting applications.

Click here ( for more information and to start the online application process. Please note that the deadline to submit completed applications is July 01, 2010. You must be a U.S. Citizen and a student (a full- or part-time continuing college or university junior, or graduate student – including graduating seniors intending to go on to graduate school) to be eligible. Please read the program description and vacancy announcement for more information.

A National Crisis: The Decline of Leadership

Here’s an excerpt from an excellent article on the decline of leadership skills in American institutions by William Deresiewicz. It’s from a graduation lecture given at Westpoint and reprinted in the current volume of The American Scholar:

“We have a crisis of leadership in America because our overwhelming power and wealth, earned under earlier generations of leaders, made us complacent, and for too long we have been training leaders who only know how to keep the routine going. Who can answer questions, but don’t know how to ask them. Who can fulfill goals, but don’t know how to set them. Who think about how to get things done, but not whether they’re worth doing in the first place. What we have now are the greatest technocrats the world has ever seen, people who have been trained to be incredibly good at one specific thing, but who have no interest in anything beyond their area of expertise. What we don’t have are leaders.

What we don’t have, in other words, are thinkers. People who can think for themselves. People who can formulate a new direction: for the country, for a corporation or a college, for the Army–a new way of doing things, a new way of looking at things. People, in other words, with vision.”

Deresiewicz ties this lack of thinking and vision to the imagination- and attention-detroying power of modern technologies. Today’s youth are simply too distracted by cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc. to be able to sit down and concentrate. As an antidote, he recommends the deep and slow reading of great books…old books–the kind we study we in the Humanities:

“So why is reading books any better than reading tweets or wall posts? Well, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes, you need to put down your book, if only to think about what you’re reading, what you think about what you’re reading. But a book has two advantages over a tweet. First, the person who wrote it thought about it a lot more carefully. The book is the result of his solitude, his attempt to think for himself.

Second, most books are old. This is not a disadvantage: this is precisely what makes them valuable. They stand against the conventional wisdom of today simply because they’re notfrom today. Even if they merely reflect the conventional wisdom of their own day, they say something different from what you hear all the time. But the great books, the ones you find on a syllabus, the ones people have continued to read, don’t reflect the conventional wisdom of their day. They say things that have the permanent power to disrupt our habits of thought. They were revolutionary in their own time, and they are still revolutionary today. And when I say “revolutionary,” I am deliberately evoking the American Revolution, because it was a result of precisely this kind of independent thinking. Without solitude–the solitude of Adams and Jefferson and Hamilton and Madison and Thomas Paine–there would be no America.

Read more:

Disney Provides over 16,000 Paid Internships Per Year

Many of the top execs at Disney started at the bottom and worked their way up. An internship is an excellent way to get work experience, understand a company’s culture and learn about opportunities. Check the Disney careers website for internship possibilities suitable for you: