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STANFORD GRADUATE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS -The Stanford Graduate School of Business has established the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies with a $150 million gift from Dorothy and Robert King, MBA ’60. The gift is among the largest ever to Stanford University. The Institute’s aim is to stimulate, develop, and disseminate research and innovations that enable entrepreneurs, managers, and leaders to alleviate poverty in developing economies.

The Institute’s work is based on the belief that a critical route for economic growth is through the creation of new entrepreneurial ventures and by scaling existing enterprises. “Entrepreneurship, innovation, and improved management are powerful ways to help alleviate poverty,” said Stanford University President John L. Hennessy. “With tremendous foresight and compassion, the Kings have made a seminal gift that leverages Stanford’s knowledge, resources, and human capital to make a real difference in the world for many years to come.”

The inspiration
The idea for the gift came out of home stays that founding donors Dorothy “Dottie” and Robert “Bob” King have offered to international students at Stanford for more than four decades. They witnessed first-hand the impact that education and entrepreneurship can have at both an individual level and a larger scale. One student, Xiangmin Cui, PhD ’97, introduced Bob to his friend Eric Xu, who joined internet engineer Robin Li to launch a Chinese-language search engine. Bob, an investment partner at Peninsula Capital in Menlo Park, Calif., provided seed funding. He and Dottie were on hand in 2005 when the company, Baidu, made its debut on NASDAQ. The internet giant now employs more than 10,000 people in China. Another King home stay student, Andreata Muforo, MBA ’09, from Zimbabwe, brought peers from her global study trip to Africa to the King home for dinner. “We heard how those first-hand experiences compelled some of the MBAs to return for internships in Africa,” said Dottie King. “We saw the direct connection between the learning experience and the motivation to make change.”

“We believe that innovation and entrepreneurship are the engines of growth to lift people out of poverty,” said Bob King, who with his wife also founded the Thrive Foundation for Youth. “And we believe Stanford’s tradition of innovation coupled with a forward-thinking global bias as well as its multidisciplinary resources will make a real impact.”

The Kings have made a $100 million gift to fund the Institute. They have committed an additional $50 million in matching funds to inspire other donors to fuel Stanford University’s commitment to alleviating poverty, bringing the total philanthropic investment to potentially $200 million.

Three areas of focus 
The work of the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies (SIIDE, pronounced and known informally as “SEED”) will span three pursuits: research, education, and applied on-the-ground work to support entrepreneurs and help growing enterprises to scale. It will:

  • Conduct multidisciplinary research in close cooperation with in-the-field managers that is focused on new and effective ways to both increase the impact of managed organizations and develop solutions to improve governance, education, and infrastructure.
  • Educate Stanford students from around the world as well as entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, managers, and leaders in developing economies to enable them to relieve poverty through effective leadership and problem-solving.
  • Build capacity on the ground to support action by entrepreneurs, managers, and leaders to scale their organizations and spur innovation.

SEED will be a well-integrated series of activities, with each area of focus continuously reinforcing the others. Data collected on the ground, for example, will be used to fuel research that will shape new courses and drive new solutions to problems as diverse as transportation and supply chain logistics, health care needs, or mobile communications. Students, faculty, and alumni will work in the field to support local organizations solving real-world problems standing in the way of growth.

The school envisions that in addition to research, students will participate in a course at Stanford before undertaking a work experience in the field. The school already has pioneered this format, in collaboration with Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, with Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability. In collaboration with in-country organizations, such as International Development Enterprises and Proximity Designs, Stanford students have identified opportunities that sparked ventures such as d.light, a consumer products company serving people without access to reliable electricity; Embrace, a social entrepreneurship venture that brings low-cost infant warmers to premature and low-birth-weight babies in the developing world; and Driptech, a water technologies company that produces affordable, high-quality irrigation systems designed for small-plot farmers. A face-to-face and online curriculum also will be developed for in-country entrepreneurs, leaders, and managers to help scale and boost the performance of nascent or ongoing ventures.

To amplify its impact on the more than one billion people in the world who live on less than $1.25 a day, SEED will partner with organizations such as Endeavor, which mentors and accelerates the work of high-impact entrepreneurs; Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm that helps scale innovative organizations that catalyze economic, social, and political change; Skoll Foundation, which drives change by investing in social entrepreneurs; and global social enterprise investor Acumen Fund. All have established operations abroad.

“Today’s students aspire to achieve a global impact that will change people’s lives for the better with everything from businesses that create employment and income sources to creating access to better education, health care, and governance,” said Garth Saloner, the Philip H. Knight Professor and Dean of the Stanford Graduate School of Business. “This initiative is an enormous opportunity for Stanford students, faculty, and on-the-ground entrepreneurs to collaborate on the design and incubation of new enterprises and solutions.” Examples of such organizations include everything from microfinance lenderEquity Bank in Kenya to MercadoLibre, Latin America’s leading e-commerce business, which launched with support from Endeavor and now employs some 1,500 people, to Embrace and d.light. SEED will cover a broad spectrum of organizations with emphasis on enterprises that employ people in impoverished communities or deliver products and services to those living in poverty.

Why Stanford and the Graduate School of Business?
Stanford University has innovation in its DNA. By providing students with education, skills, and problem-solving tools, Stanford has played a pivotal role in the creation and growth of Silicon Valley. Alumni have founded or helped build whole new technologies, industries, and companies including Google, Nike, HP, Yahoo, Charles Schwab, and Cisco. With Stanford’s rich history, track record, and relationships as a backdrop, the Institute will strive to enable entrepreneurs and others in developing economies to create and scale their organizations. The objective is to help entrepreneurs change the lives of their employees, people within their communities, and those who purchase or use their products and services. “There are very few settled solutions about how best to alleviate poverty in a wide range of contexts, which means there is plenty of opportunity to uncover, share, and apply new insights,” said Saloner.

The Institute will draw from the GSB’s world-class MBA program and suite of courses in entrepreneurship, as well as research on supply chains, finance, funding, and other topics relevant to the needs of growing economies. In addition to its Center for Entrepreneurial StudiesCenter for Global Business and the Economy, and Center for Social Innovation, the school recently launched an evening Program in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. It also has welcomed the Stanford Program on Regions of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which conducts research and holds conferences for entrepreneurs, investors, and government leaders about the elements that contribute to regions of rapid growth around the world. Going forward the Institute expects to embrace resources, students, and faculty from across Stanford’s six other world-class schools at which approximately one in six MBA students already is working on a joint or dual degree.

Institute leadership
Hau Lee, a supply chain expert and the Thoma Professor of Operations, Information and Technology at the Graduate School of Business, will lead the Institute. A winner of the MBA Distinguished Teaching Award, he recently collaborated with Riders for Health to measure and demonstrate the impact of their work transforming the Gambian and Zambian health care delivery systems through the comprehensive management of national/regional fleets of vehicles. Lee also will head the Institute’s research area.

Jesper Sørensen, the Robert A. and Elizabeth R. Jeffe Professor of Organizational Behavior and the Susan Ford Dorsey Faculty Fellowwill lead the education and dissemination area. Sørensen is a faculty director of the Center for Social Innovation at the Graduate School of Business and teaches Poverty, Entrepreneurship, and Development, among other courses.

Jim Patell, who is the Herbert Hoover Professor of Public and Private Management and the Katherine and David DeWilde Faculty Fellow, with Bill Meehan, the Raccoon Partners Lecturer in Strategic Management and director emeritus of McKinsey & Co., will lead the on-the-ground area. Meehan will focus primarily on supporting existing business leaders to scale and grow their enterprises through a combination of executive education, consulting, mentoring, and online courses. Building on his years of teaching Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability, Patell, a winner of the MBA Distinguished Teaching Award, will manage programs aimed at partnering Stanford students with in-country organizations to develop new products and services. Following a period of coursework and preparation at Stanford, students will provide manpower and management support by working with startups, NGOs, and companies in-country. Students will investigate needs and execute solutions with partner entities on the ground.

Nobel laureate A. Michael Spence will chair the Institute’s advisory board, which is now forming. Spence is an authority on global economics in the developing world. He is the Philip H. Knight Professor and Dean Emeritus at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the William Berkley Professor in Economics and Business at New York University.

The Institute’s first research forum will be held March 5-6, 2012, at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. It will bring together faculty by invitation from across Stanford University and elsewhere to share and jointly explore research opportunities in developing economies.

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STANFORD UNIVERSITY—In the blockbuster movie Contagion, jet-setting lifestyles help a deadly virus travel the world, unraveling society and sending researchers scrambling to develop a vaccine.

During the script’s development, Nathan Wolfe, a visiting Stanford human biology professor, invited the Contagion screenwriter to a seminar where undergraduates learn to view the world from a microbe’s perspective.

“Some of the students did an extra credit project to come up with fictional-but-plausible deadly viruses that we shared with him,” Wolfe said. “It was definitely great fun for everybody.”

While the class enjoyed contributing to the scientific credibility of the movie, Wolfe and his independent nonprofit research group, the Global Viral Forecasting Initiative, are working to make sure the drama of Contagion stays on the movie screen.

In his new book, The Viral Storm: The Dawn of a New Pandemic Age, Wolfe chronicles the changes in human behavior that have shaped our experience with pandemics and he ultimately provides a vision for predicting and preventing future outbreaks.

Wolfe’s firsthand knowledge from over a decade of virus hunting is woven throughout the book. His early work in Cameroon, in west-central Africa, sent him to villages where the inhabitants relied on wild game, or bushmeat, for protein. When hunters contact animal fluids during butchering, it makes them especially vulnerable to hosting novel bugs. Many viruses, like HIV and influenza, jumped to humans from other animals.

Hunters are important allies for studying emerging disease. By enlisting them to collect thousands of blood samples, Wolfe and his colleagues found unique forms of viruses, including retroviruses like HIV. Since then, Wolfe and his team have established the Cameroon monitoring system in countries throughout the world, including China, Southeast Asia and other parts of central Africa.

Nathan Wolfe discusses project administration with senior members of a field team in Cameroon. The teams work with communities to understand the risk of infection from wild animal pathogens, organize blood sample collection by volunteer hunters, and inform communities about pathogens found in the samples.

While viruses may emerge from far-flung places, Wolfe emphasizes that modern transportation networks help microbes spread faster than ever. For that reason, Wolfe says The Viral Storm is written “for anyone who rides the subway, or takes an airplane, or kisses their children goodbye on their way off to school.”

The global connectivity that helps viruses spread also makes them easier to track. San Francisco-based Global Viral Forecasting Initiative works in 20 countries, trying to find potential pandemics. A digital surveillance team monitors chatter on hundreds of websites, looking for the signal of a threatening outbreak in online noise. By combining technology with boots-on-the-ground natural science, GVFI aims to catch viruses before they become world travelers.

“In the last chapter of the book I portray a fictional scenario for the future of how I hope that we’ll address some of these pandemics,” Wolfe said. “I think the exciting thing about GVFI is that we’re really working on a daily basis to move that towards a reality.”

To predict and prevent the next pandemic, GVFI will rely equally on hunters in Africa and analysts crunching data in California. “Whether it’s epidemiology or virology or computer science, we bring all of those to bear to find the best solutions to addressing these problems,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe wants to confine images of plague-racing vaccine developers to movies like Contagion. “Historically, the way we’ve focused on disease control when it comes to pandemics is very much a reactive, responsive approach,” he said. “I think now we’ve crossed the threshold into having a lot of organizations and governments that now recognize that prediction is important.”

According to Wolfe, stopping deadly bugs before they spread also depends on how individuals think about pandemics. In The Viral Storm, he talks about “risk literacy,” referring to the ability to compare and interpret relative risks.

“I think there is a real importance for people to understand the nature of these risks,” Wolfe said. “And while we may not perceive them in the way that we perceive more visually traumatic risks like hurricanes and earthquakes, they represent, in many ways, more profound threats.”

Nathan Wolfe is the Lorry I. Lokey Visiting Professor in Human Biology at Stanford University and founder and CEO of Global Viral Forecasting Initiative.

Sarah Jane Keller is a science-writing intern at the Stanford News Service.

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STANFORD GRADUATE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS — JD Schramm has a reassuring message for anyone – and that includes just about everyone, really – who frets over the prospect of public speaking. “The beautiful thing about communication is that it is part art and part science,” he told a recent gathering at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. While some people are naturally gifted storytellers, “there are strategies that each of us can employ to work for us.”

Schramm, a lecturer in organizational behavior who also directs the business school’s Mastery in Communication Initiative, gave advice to a dozen of the school’s alumni in advance of an Oct. 20 celebration of the school’s commitment to developing leaders who can address the social and environmental issues of their times. For the occasion, the school’s Center for Social Innovation and its 40-year-old Public Management Program have asked alumni social innovators to participate in “Class Notes Live” sessions. The participants in Schramm’s workshop are among a larger group who will tell, in just four minutes each, their personal stories of impact. Schramm’s job was to get them ready.

His first piece of advice: Skip the boring preamble (“Hello, my name is Marsha and I’m here to tell you about XYZ Company”) and parachute straight into the dramatic heart of the narrative. “Many times we feel like we have to do a lot of prefacing, but four minutes goes by quickly,” Schramm said. “If you spend two minutes on background, you’ve lost an opportunity to grab attention.” Far better to leave the identifying bits until the second paragraph, or to the overhead PowerPoint image, or to the person charged with giving the introductions.

Another important rule is to “follow Goldilocks” – that is, to think carefully about how much detail to include; not too much and not too little. To illustrate, Schramm showed a video from his favorite teaching website, www.TED.com. In it, firefighter Mark Bezos told a brief but colorful story about retrieving a woman’s shoes from her smoldering house. By including a few vivid details – the fact that the homeowner was barefoot, in her pajamas, standing under an umbrella in the pouring rain – he made the story come alive. But “had the fireman gone on and on about the color of the truck and the street address,” Schramm cautioned, “he would have ruined it for us.”

Among Schramm’s other “habits of concise storytelling”:

Connect with individuals. “Deliver one thought to one person in the room,” Schramm advised, “and then turn your body and deliver another complete thought to another person. Have that moment. Eye contact is gold in storytelling. The more you can connect and pierce into somebody’s eyes, the more you can break down resistance.” It’s also a good idea to step toward the audience and use hand gestures to illustrate points, rather than stay fixed and frozen in one place.

As in music, silence is effective. “You might use moments of silence to let people catch up with you, or to frame something, like the first time you use a phrase or an acronym. Or you can use silence just to get everybody’s attention,” Schramm said. “Just a few seconds, appropriately used, can add emphasis to your presentation.”

Don’t read or memorize the manuscript, nor try to speak off-the-cuff. It’s much more reliable and effective to memorize a list of bullet points and then practice telling the story over and over again, keeping the mental list as a reference.

Use PowerPoint wisely. Slides should emphasize photography, illustrations, or charts, not words.

Know your AIM: audience, intent, and message. What do you want your audience to do as a result of this communication? “Sometimes you have to be explicit and say, ‘I want donors,’” Schramm observed. Other times you just want the audience to embrace an idea, or re-share the information with others. In any case, he said, “The best thing you can do is share a little bit at first, and have your listeners ask for more.”

Do use personal anecdotes, self-deprecating humor, and accessible language. Don’t try to provide a thorough overview of your organization or focus solely on the tactical, factual sides of your story. Keep technical jargon to a minimum.

Founded in April 2009, the Mastery in Communication Initiative helps business school students hone their communication skills with workshops on business presentations, problem-solving, media relations, voice projection, and journaling, among other topics. The program also offers individualized coaching for students as they prepare to enter the world of business.

The focus on public management and social innovation at the Stanford Graduate School of Business started with the creation of the Public Management Program (PMP) by Dean Arjay Miller in 1971. Since then, the PMP has kept reinventing itself to meet the needs of new generations of leaders. The school’s Center for Social Innovation, founded 10 years ago, has extended the work of the PMP to a larger audience of executives and set on a course to develop the field of social innovation. Today there are numerous academic centers for social innovation around the world, and the White House created an Office for Social Innovation and Civic Participation in the United States.

— Theresa Johnston

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STANFORD UNIVERSITY — When she started her research into the psychology of aging as a young graduate student, Laura Carstensen assumed that older people were socially isolated, depressed, and lonely.

Much to the contrary, Carstensen discovered there’s a silver lining to growing old — the elderly tend to exhibit better mental health status than their younger and middle-aged counterparts, she told an alumni audience on October 15 during the 35th reunion of the MBA Class of 1976.

In fact, the trend is so distinct that psychology researchers call it “the paradox of aging,” said Carstensen, the Fairleigh S. Dickinson Jr. Professor in Public Policy and Director of the Stanford Center on Longevity. “People are doing better emotionally, even though they are suffering many losses associated with age.”

Several factors contribute to older people’s stronger emotional health and wellbeing.

As people get on in years, they “prune” the social network of people they may be friendly enough with but are not particularly emotionally tied to — folks typically including co-workers and parents of their children’s friends. So, while an elderly individual’s social network usually is smaller than it was in their younger days, it is more likely to include only the people they really care about — usually five individuals, Carstensen explained.

“When we’re young, or when our futures seems to stretch out limitlessly in front of us, we tend to make choices that will expand our horizons. Young people tend to be in a ‘banking’ mode, taking everything in, so they go to mixers and parties, they join clubs, they accept blind dates,” Carstensen explained. “As we age and we see the amount of time left before us growing more constrained, we come to have a sense that we don’t have time for a lot of the hassles in life.”

Part of her research involved setting up experiments to see what happened during situations engineered to make younger people feel as if they have less time left to achieve their goals — in other words, to make them feel older — and make older people see their time horizons expanded, essentially making them feel younger. She found that changing time horizons dramatically impacted peoples’ goals.

In one study, participants were told to imagine they suddenly had a half hour free and could spend it with one of three people: the author of book they’d just read, a recent acquaintance, or a member of their immediate family or close friend. Seventy percent of the older people chose to spend that time with the family member or friend. Younger people equally reported wanting to spend time with people from all three categories.

Then, the older participants were told to imagine that they’d just gotten a phone call from their physician, relaying news of a new medical advance enabling them to live 30 years longer than expected. Upon getting news of having a longer time horizon, older people no longer overwhelmingly chose to spend time with family members or friends, as they had before.

In another study, younger people were told to imagine they were in the middle of packing right before making a move across the country alone and suddenly had 30 minutes free to spend with either a family member, a close friend, or an acquaintance. They overwhelmingly chose to spend that precious time with family or good friends, making the “young people now look just like old people,” said Carstensen. “So this isn’t about death, it’s about time. When time’s limited, people focus on sure things. They focus on what’s most important.”

The study results were consistent regardless of the participant’s race, ethnicity, or social class, said Carstensen.

She has also found that while younger people tend to be more likely to remember negative occurrences, older peoples’ “default” is to go through life looking at the positive side. That tendency has been shown in many ways in the lab, she said, including through studies where old and young participants are all induced into negative moods and then given the option to watch a happy movie or a negative film. While the older participants went for the happy movie, young people typically engaged in “mood matching” and selected the negative film.

Given older peoples’ ability to focus on the positive, Carstensen said “it’s a little bit surprising that individuals are uneasy about aging and society’s policy makers are panicked” about America’s graying population. Life expectancy was 77 in 1900, while people born in 2000 or later are expected to live to 100, she said.

“We certainly can’t rest on our laurels having inherited this extra 30 years of life,” said Carstensen, stressing that people must take steps to be physically healthy and financially secure throughout their expanded old age. “We have a lot of work that we need to do.”

— Michele Chandler

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STANFORD UNIVERSITY – Students may covet seats in Stanford’s popular iPhone and iPad application development course, but you don’t need to be in the classroom to take the course.

Anyone with app dreams can follow along online.

Stanford has just released the iOS 5 incarnation of iPhone Application Development on iTunes U, where the public can download course lectures and slides for free. Some of the most talked-about features of Apple’s latest operating system include iCloud, streamlined notifications and wireless syncing.

When Stanford’s first iPhone apps course appeared online in 2009, it made iTunes history by rocketing to a million downloads in just seven weeks.

Alberto Martín is an engineer and independent iOS developer in Salamanca, Spain. He has been a diligent student of the online app development class since it first appeared.

He has created applications, now for sale in Apple’s App Store, that organize your photos and make navigating while driving less distracting. Or, for fitness fans, an app that counts your pushups.

His apps provide him with extra income. “I hope some day I can live off this, because I love doing it,” he said.

“Although it’s not impossible, I think it’s hard to make a lot of money in the App Store,” Martín said. “But I think it’s a beautiful process because it gives you the opportunity to develop your own ideas, sell them and fight for them.”

Martín has been eagerly awaiting the release of the new course and says that he will follow the classes for as long as they keep coming.

“You learn a lot by watching the lectures on iTunes U,” he said. “If you want to have success you need to keep on learning new things.”

Online learners hear the same lectures as classroom students, but do not get Stanford credit or access to instructors.

Instructor Paul Hegarty attributes the course popularity to the appeal of Apple products and the instant gratification of creating apps for mobile devices. “There’s something about developing for the iOS platform that’s really exciting and fun because it runs on devices that everybody has in their purses or pockets, ” he said.

“There aren’t a lot of courses you can take that when you get to the end, to your final project, you can take it out of your pocket and show your friends.”

Hegarty said that his students develop a wide array of applications for the iPhone and iPad, including many that improve or automate their daily lives. Those include apps that manage laboratory experiments, keep track of food choices at campus eateries, or access the works of Shakespeare. Games and social networking applications are also popular.

John Cast, an electrical engineering student who is taking the class in a Stanford classroom, said that he learned about the course by watching earlier versions on iTunes U. Cast is working on applications that archive historical memorabilia and improve FM radio tuning.

“One of the coolest things about teaching this class is just seeing the creativity that gets applied,” Hegarty said. “It’s really quite amazing.”

Developers unfamiliar with Apple’s operating systems must learn a new programming language, Objective-C, if they hope to master the apps course. Stanford students take a year of computer science classes and learn the technique of object-oriented programming before tackling the iOS development class.

Two Stanford prerequisite courses, Programming Methodology and Programming Abstractions, are available on iTunes U.

Nikil Viswanathan, a computer science student, said that the class is “really, really, good” in large part because Hegarty doesn’t just teach students a new language, he teaches the “philosophy of how we program in Objective-C” and “puts it into the context of entire computer science program.”

Most introductory computer science classes are abstract, but Objective-C is used to build applications for mobile devices, so students learn the programming basics and apply them right away. “I don’t think that what I’m doing is just teaching them programming,” Hegarty said. “It’s an opportunity to teach them some computing fundamentals in a real world environment.”

Hegarty said he enjoys that so many people benefit from the work he puts into preparing the course. “You really feel like as an instructor that the work gets leveraged,” he said. “It’s really rewarding.”

Sarah Jane Keller is a science-writing intern at the Stanford News Service

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STANFORD UNIVERSITY —”Oil is ammunition,” read a World War II poster encouraging conservation. That message is just as appropriate today, according to John Warner, the former five-term senator from Virginia.

The United States must reduce its consumption of fossil fuels not only for environmental reasons, but to improve its economic and national security, said Warner and former Secretary of State George Shultz, a distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution and professor emeritus at the Graduate School of Business. The two senior Republicans outlined their vision for how to enact a national energy policy at a conference hosted by Stanford last week.

Successful bipartisan support for such a policy will require bringing together three different constituencies focused on the environment, the economy and national security, said the two leaders.

“We need a comprehensive energy framework. We need to describe the problem and tell the public that it’s as important as any other aspect of national security. And we’re going to have to leave these rules in place for a period of time so there’s some continuity,” Warner said at the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Accelerating Clean Energy conference, which was co-hosted by the Hoover Institution’s Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy and Stanford’s Precourt Institute for Energy.

Regardless of which countries ship oil to the United States, American demand in the global oil market pumps dollars to unfriendly regimes like Iran, which is trying to build nuclear weapons, said Shultz. “There is a huge national security element to the energy issue,” he said.

Even more directly, the GOP dignitaries and other conference speakers said, the armed services’ dependence on oil is a tremendous security problem in war zones. In Iraq and Afghanistan fuel shipments account for 80% of supply convoys; military personnel are injured or killed in about one of every 50 convoys in those two wars, according to Phyllis Cuttino, the director of the Pew Clean Energy Program.

The Department of Defense has moved to reduce its oil vulnerability. The Pentagon  increased investments in clean energy from $400 million to $1.2 billion between 2006 and 2009, and it forecasts such investments to reach $10 billion by 2030. Frontline soldiers are recharging batteries with portable solar panels, reducing the need for oil-fired generators. At home, the military has cut energy consumption aggressively at its bases, which is important because the U.S. Defense Department is one of the world’s largest consumers of fossil fuels.

The near-term chances of Congress acting so decisively, however, are not great, according to Warner and Shultz. “President Obama has done admirable work incentivizing America in terms of energy use,” said Warner, “but Congress is not carrying out its responsibilities.”

The Shultz-Stephenson Task Force is studying the possibility of developing a policy for a revenue-neutral carbon tax, which would reduce taxes for every dollar raised by a carbon tax. The revenue-neutral component, plus the elimination of energy industry subsidies and many regulations, would be necessary to garner the support of Republicans. But even a broad coalition based on security, economy and environmental concerns could not get a carbon tax passed until after the 2012 presidential elections, as task force members said at Stanford’s Global Climate and Energy Project symposium earlier this month. The task force is using the time to develop the details of this complex carbon-tax proposal.

Shultz remains optimistic. “The fact that we have major energy problems is obvious. The fact that we have ways of dealing with it is also becoming obvious,” Shultz said Monday. “There is growing impatience for Congress to do something about it. The voting public is way ahead of elected officials on this.”

Mark Golden is a communications/energy writer at the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University.

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STANFORD GRADUATE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS— The disparity between the highest-paid basketball players and their lower-paid teammates on professional teams often lead to negative headlines about large NBA salaries. But, in fact, these hierarchies can help propel professional basketball teams to victory, according to a new study from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

 Professional basketball teams require high levels of coordination to be successful, as players depend on each other for getting open shots and playing team defense. Hierarchy can promote coordination and enhance cooperation on teams, the authors say.

 ”We view procedural interdependence as a critical factor that creates a need for hierarchy. Thus, we predicted that hierarchy in the NBA would relate positively to team performance,” said Adam Galinsky, the Morris and Alice Kaplan Professor of Ethics and Decision in Management at Kellogg. “This is in stark contrast to professional baseball, which is much more of an individual game requiring minimal team interdependence. Indeed, prior research on major league baseball found that pay disparities had a negative effect on on-field performance and revenues.”

 The research examined data from NBA teams between 1997 and 2007, looking at pay dispersion, starting lineup dispersion, and playing time dispersion to measure hierarchy. They studied team performance as measured by the team’s winning percentage. The authors also tested intragroup coordination and cooperation by looking at assists, turnovers, defensive rebounds and field-goal percentage.

 ”Pay dispersion and starting lineup dispersion were significant predictors of increased intragroup coordination and cooperation, and enhanced the performance of professional basketball teams,” said lead author Nir Halevy, acting assistant professor of Organizational Behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

 Interestingly, although differentiating among a team’s players in terms of playing time also contributed to team success, it was not associated with cooperation and coordination within teams. “People who get paid more may demand the status of starting and the prestige that results – starters receive elaborate introductions set to blaring music while getting high fives and chest bumps from teammates,” said Galinsky. “Playing time is more tactical, depending on which players are contributing the most during a given game.”

 Whether members of a team or group view a hierarchy as legitimate is a key factor to success.

“In a team environment where players are dependent on each other, they may see hierarchy as both legitimate and fair, which is likely to make the hierarchy function effectively,” said Galinsky.

 ”While some team members are paid more and have more opportunities to influence the group, in the end, all the members of a team win or lose together,” Halevy added.

 In addition to Halevy and Galinsky, the study’s authors include Kellogg’s J. Keith Murnighan, the Harold H. Hines Jr. Distinguished Professor of Risk Management, and Eileen Chou, a PhD student of management and organizations. The study, entitled “When Hierarchy Wins: Evidence From the National Basketball Association,” will be published in a forthcoming issue of Social Psychological and Personality Science.

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STANFORD UNIVERSITY —Technology will open up unimaginable new horizons in education – but don’t underestimate the power of people.

That was a central message on Stanford’s Oct.  22 Roundtable discussion at Maples Pavilion titled “Education Nation 2.0:  Redefining Education Before It Redefines Us.”

Moderated by PBS’ Charlie Rose, the panel included Reed Hastings, founder and CEO of Netflix; Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy; Kim Smith, MBA ’85,  co-founder and CEO of Bellwether Education Partners and a founding team member of Teach For America; Cory A. Booker, mayor of Newark, N.J.; Claude M. Steele, dean of Stanford’s School of Education; and Stanford University President John L. Hennessy.

The emphasis on technology was no surprise, given the presence of Khan and Hastings.  Khan, a former hedge fund analyst, has founded a nonprofit that makes free, high-quality online education available to “anyone, anywhere” in the world (it’s visited by 2 million students a month).  Hastings, a former president of the California State Board of Education, launched the movie-streaming and DVD rental-by-mail company that now has 20 million subscribers.

But the optimism was perhaps more unexpected.  Several panelists referred to American education being at “an inflection point,” a term from calculus that signals the point where a curve changes direction.

Hastings pointed out that education America has been decrying its educational shortcomings for at least a century and tinkering incrementally with its educational system for just as long.

Yet “this is the first generation that is talking about radical new ways to transform society,” he said. “Fifty years from now, it’s going to be an incredible world.”

“The gatekeepers are going away,” said Khan, hailing the success of online education. “Even though it might seem very dark right now, in next 10 years we’ll see optimistic and promising things.”

Reasons for despair are many.  Steele described many students who struggle not only with being behind, but the public perception of deficiency. “Every newspaper tells them they’re behind, so they’re working under a cloud.”

Booker said we are facing the first generation with lower literacy levels.  “Our greatest national security threat, bar none, is the dumbing down of the population,” he said, adding that “growing masses of the population are hitting 18, 19, 20, 21, with very few opportunities” to support families.

Booker spoke about “the earnest Americans, who have played by rules, but have punishing problems nobody thinks about.”  While technology may be the answer for tomorrow, the situation today is that “large portions in the cities don’t have access to the internet.”

“My kids in Newark don’t have access to computers at home,” he said, and noted that single mothers with two jobs or more have little time to oversee homework or offer instruction.

The inflection point is “the recognition of our interdependence,” Steele said, in a nation where minorities will soon be the majority of the work force.  Hence, the fate of Latino children in neighboring communities is peripheral for no one, he said. “Our fate is connected with their fate.”

Hastings went further in stressing a global interdependence: “We need every kid in Brazil to get a good education. We need kids in South Africa to get a good education.”

No one perhaps has crossed international borders the way Khan’s academy has.  He called for a focus on nontraditional learning measured by achievement, not “seat time” in a classroom.

“Twenty-first century jobs are all about creativity.  Can you start with a blank slate and create something that never existed?” he challenged the audience.

He called for education to “decouple the credential from the learning experience,” and validate student learning at whatever age it occurs, and whether it comes from a parent or a university.

Khan noted that a key to his academy’s success was that the style of learning was “old school lectures —what Aristotle did with Alexander the Great.”

He began by coaching his cousins, so the approach to teaching “wasn’t coming from a publishing house or committee.”

Because he uses YouTube videos, students are free to learn at their own pace. Khan recalled one student who watched a video 30 times.  “There’s no tutor you could hire that wouldn’t be judgmental,” he said, but such are the advantages of learning via technology.

Hennessy said Stanford’s own spectacularly popular online engineering courses, offered this fall with online videos and quizzes, have involved hundreds of thousands of people around the world.

Charter schools as an avenue for reform came up repeatedly throughout the 90-minute session.

Hastings insistently pointed to them as the direction to the future.  He cited Rocketship charter schools in San Jose, Calif., that serve low-income Hispanic communities. “Their scores are slightly higher than Palo Alto – and costs are way less,” he said.

However, Booker said while some charter schools in Newark were “cathedrals of learning,” others “are really, really bad.”

The panelists called for better assessment as a key to evaluating educational experiments, such as charter schools. “Far too much school reform has been anecdotal,” said Hennessy.

“We’ve got to be prepared to experiment—parents don’t like the idea that we’re experimenting on their children, but we are doing it now, and we’re not telling them,” said Hennessy.

Smith added that reform has been “worse than anecdotal, it’s been ideological.”  She called for reform that is “non-ideological and very pragmatic.”

“To be pragmatic, we need data,” she said. “The ideology is part of what’s held us back.”

For example, she cited “the ideology that technology in education was bad, because it would replace teachers.  We’re just getting past that fear now” with a new generation of teachers who have grown up with technology and are comfortable with it, she said.

Booker called on Americans, including those in the Roundtable audience, not to treat education as “a spectator sport” and “hope that government officials figure it out.”

He challenged Californians to give up a favorite television program—not surprisingly, the Newark mayor suggested the popular Jersey Shore—and use the time instead to mentor youth for four hours a month.

“Everyone is a philanthropist.  If they can’t give money, they can give spirit and time.” He praised the “venture philanthropists helping to seed innovation and change in public space.”

—Cynthia Haven

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STANFORD UNIVERSITY — Novels have captured readers’ imaginations for hundreds of years. What is it about this literary form that keeps people coming back for more?

On October 10th, professors from Stanford University and UC Berkeley shared their thoughts about the world’s most popular literary form with an audience at Litquake, San Francisco’s largest literary festival. In a dialogue with attendees, the panelists delved into the evolution of the novel and uncovered novelistic gems overlooked by the reading public.

Co-presented by the Stanford Humanities Center and UC Berkeley’s Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities, the discussion explored “The Best Novels You Haven’t Read”.

Litquake is an annual week-long festival, held each October in San Francisco. It is the largest literary festival on the West Coast, bringing more than 300 authors together with fans of the written word for readings, performances, cross-media events, and panel discussions.

Literary Scholars Offer Different Viewpoints

The panelists, four English professors, two from UC Berkeley, and two from Stanford, each approached the discussion through the lens of their unique area of expertise. They presenters and some of the novels they each mentioned during the discussion:

  1. English professor Nancy Ruttenburg, current director of Stanford’s Center for the Study of the Novel, is writing a book about the history and meanings of conscience in life and in literature.

Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
Marcel Proust, Remembrances of Things Past
Kenzaburo Oe, The Changeling
J. M. Coetzee, Age of Iron
Marilynne Robinson, Gilead
Geoff Dyer, Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi
Joshua Ferris, The Unnamed
Saul Bellow, Humboldt’s Gift
Elizabeth Stoddard, The Morgesons
Christina Stead, The Man Who Loved Children
Dorothy Baker, Cassandra at the Wedding

  1. Kent Puckett, Associate Professor of English at UC Berkeley, is author of Bad Form: Social Mistakes and the Nineteenth-Century Novel (Oxford, 2008) and a 2011 winner of Berkeley’s Distinguished Teaching Award.  

Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus
Robert Browning, The Ring and the Book
Walter Pater, Marius the Epicurean
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

  1. Ramón Saldívar is a professor of English and comparative literature at Stanford University whose research interests include nineteenth- and twentieth-century comparative literary studies, theory of the novel, and transnational American studies.

Salvador Plascencia, The People of Paper

4.Fiction writer Namwali Serpell is assistant professor of English at UC Berkeley whose research surrounds issues of ethics and literature, aesthetics, and theories of reading. Serpell will receive a 2011 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award.

Jorge Luis Borges, Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius
Italo Calvino, If on a winter’s night a traveler…
H.P. Lovecraft, A History of the Necronomicon
Thomas Mann, Death in Venice
William Empson, Seven Types of Ambiguity
John Haffenden, William Empson: Among the Mandarins (Vol. I) and William Empson: Against the Christians (Vol. II).
Shirley Jackson, The Lottery (the collection that includes “Seven Types of Ambiguity”)
Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy
J. Hillis Miller, On Literature

Continuing a Tradition

The Stanford Humanities Outreach Project and the Stanford Humanities Center have jointly sponsored Litquake events for the past three years. In last year’s event, Representations of Race and Ethnicity in Art & Literature, four Stanford humanities professors discussed how portrayals of race and ethnicity in literature and art impact contemporary culture.

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STANFORD UNIVERSITY - 

Even before their first day of class, many students enrolled in Stanford’s first set of comprehensive, free online computer science courses were hard at work.  

 The three classes – Introduction to Databases, Machine Learning and Introduction to Artificial Intelligence – officially started on October 10. By then, however, the 66,000 students signed up for Computer Science Department Chair Jennifer Widom’s database class had collectively viewed 290,000 videos, taken 10,000 tests, asked 224 questions and offered over 2,000 replies. 

 The 72,000 registered students in associate professor Andrew Ng’s Machine Learning class had watched more than 850,000 video clips and submitted some 50,000 quiz answers. And the artificial intelligence course, taught jointly by Stanford Research Professor of Computer Science and Google Fellow Sebastian Thrun and Google Director of Research Peter Norvig, had attracted an unprecedented 160,000 students from over 190 countries who were collectively querying the course database at more than 7,500 times a second.

“We pre-launched about a week and a half ahead, putting out all the materials for the first week and also the videos for the second week,” explains Widom, who had emailed those who’d expressed initial interest in her class to tell them it was time to formally register.

 Like her colleagues, Widom expected only a subset of that group to make the transition. After all, although the School of Engineering has previously offered recordings of entire Stanford courses online, students in these new classes will also take quizzes, complete assignments and even sit for exams. 

 ”I had thought we’d see quite a bit of attrition,” she says. “But we’re getting them all back and more.” 

Registrants have signed on for the classes from as close as Stanford’s home in Palo Alto and as far away as Ghana, Peru, Russia and New Zealand. Overall, roughly 40% are from the United States, with India accounting for the second largest block of students.

 Much of the interest in the courses has spread virally, Ng adds. “If you watch the web analytics, sometimes a whole country seems to come online at the same time as word spreads in that country’s local social media.”

 New communities – both virtual and real – have sprung up around the classes. 

Online volunteers have begun translating the Introduction to Artificial Intelligence class into over 40 languages, and in many places local study groups are meeting in person to talk about the courses. 

 Each course is explicitly designed to capture the community-mindedness of its students. All feature an online discussion forum, for example, where  students can ask questions and suggest answers to those questions, both of which can be voted up or down by their peers.

That’s essential, says Widom, as she couldn’t possibly answer every question posed by tens of thousands of students. And already, she says, “I can see that students are answering each other’s questions and that answers from the top students are going to bubble up.”

 “It all reflects the enormous desire of the world community to have something like this,” suggests AI professor Thrun. “It is taking Stanford into the world in a way that I think has never happened before.”

Although the online students do not get Stanford credit for their work, they gain access to faculty and three of the Stanford Engineering’s most popular computer science courses. They’re also participating in an experiment that could transform the way online education is delivered.

 None of the classes could exist unless they were also highly automated. Each has at its core a set of prerecorded mini-lectures stored on multiple servers that students access at their own pace as each week’s materials are posted. Most of the videos contain in-frame quizzes that are graded automatically. Exercises that test coding skills and mid-terms and finals are also all automatically scored.

 Some of the testing technology goes beyond simple multiple choice questions, employing a technique based on the work of Stanford computer science professor emeritus Jeffrey Ullman. Ullman’s testing system stores more possible answers than it offers for each question, which allows a student to take the same test multiple times.  

 ”I’ve been using it for the last eight years in my Stanford classes,” Widom reports, “and students really like it. They can take the tests over and over until they get 100%, and most of the students do.”

  Widom’s Introduction to Databases and Ng’s Machine Learning classes also build on innovations conceived by Stanford professor of computer science Daphne Koller and implemented by her colleague John Mitchell. Their CourseWare platform lets faculty upload videos and handouts, offer interactive online quizzes and track discussions among students and teachers. 

 Koller has used CourseWare to shift her lectures, quizzes and exams to the web – a move that’s freed class time for discussions, guest lectures and interactive problem solving. “At the outset of this effort, we had the idea that we could take the same concept and make it available to the general public,” she recalls. “But I think it moved faster than any of us expected.” 

 Because CourseWare was designed to manage only the enrollment of a typical Stanford undergraduate class, Ng combined it with Open Classroom, a web platform he’d created to share Stanford lectures freely with the world. The resulting new platform, which has yet to be named, was re-engineered in a few short weeks this summer by Stanford computer science PhD student Jiquan Ngiam and undergrads Frank Chen, Chuan Yu Foo, and Yifan Mai. 

  The sheer scale at which people are engaging with the new Stanford offerings provides opportunities for improving education, both offline and on.   

  By allowing students to do more than just watch a series of lectures for free, Ng hopes Stanford’s three new online classes will help show that the technology exists today to “give a high quality education to a large number of people either for free or at very low cost.”

 Being able to take quizzes, wrestle with software problems and receive the feedback that comes with accurately graded work all makes for a much more valuable experience for those students, adds Koller.

 More classes are being planned for the winter and spring quarters, she reports, including her own popular Probabilistic Graphical Models class.

 ”High-quality education is sorely lacking for people who have either financial or geographical limitations that prevent them from attending places like Stanford, MIT or Berkeley,” Koller says. “Making these technologies widely available is a huge opportunity for making the world a considerably better place.”

- Simon Firth

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