Gaddafi, Arab protests and a New Wave of Democratization

I have been thinking for a while on how to attack the issue of the recent protests in Arab countries on my blog.

There are so many aspects that could be covered:

However all these topics have been discussed already, so I will instead write a few lines about how the current affairs section of my Social Theory class at Ashesi University College this semester – exactly because of the turbulent times –  has become the most exciting time of the week.

Each week four students prepare a brief presentation of the events over the last week, for Ghana, West-Africa, Africa or the World. Neatly dressed as TV-presenters, sometimes even opening with “Welcome to the 9 o’clock news, my name is ….”, they talk us through the recent news and we try to fit the events with the sometimes ancient thoughts presented in the course.

The developments are unexpected and mind-blowing and as demonstrated above, there are so many interesting aspects (even apart from the often quoted social media angle) of these protests.

These are indeed very interesting days to follow the news, but each week something that is discussed in my class is not present in mainstream media – the situation in our neighboring country.

Have we all but forgotten about the serious political standstill in Ivory Coast?

Photos: Ashesi students presenting the political news of the week.

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Work 4 Hours a Week, Live a Dream – Deal?

As I was doing my “after lunch surf”, (compare with “nap”) I stumbled through Marlena Batist’s (Swedish) blog onto an imperium hietherto unknown to me, The Four Hour Work Week (4HWW).

It is a book, a blog and the tagline is “Escape 9-5, live anywhere and join the new rich” (from a migration perspective I found the term “new rich” interesting; the new rich have time and mobility in abundance. Anyhoo…). The 4 Hour Work Week is an international best-seller and a concept that many seem to love, although it still seems a bit blurry to me. I guess I have to read the book.

However, as this was not an option for me this afternoon, I think the best free resources out there were the 4HWW author Tim Ferriss’s Schedule a regular day, the posts that had examples or case studies of people living the 4HWW and an interview with Ferriss on the key concept of “mini-retirements” on the blog Get Rich Slowly.

Personally, I really sympathize with living simply and having time and money to do what you want, especially when looking at the horrid stats from the US: (of course conveniently provided by the 4HWW crew)

Only 14% of Americans take two weeks or more at a time for vacation [4]. The average American therefore spends more time in the bathroom than on vacation.

61% of Americans check email while on vacation [5].

Average Annual Vacation Days

  • Italy 42
  • France 37
  • Germany 35
  • Brazil 34
  • Britain 28
  • Canada 26
  • Japan 25
  • USA 13

However I hate the terms “outsource your life” and “mini-retirements” and I also love working! I do not want to escape the 9-5 life! I guess if you have a job you enjoy, you can live a dream without the book, the website, the blog and the hype?

What do you think?

Pic courtesy of Marlena Batist.

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My Spring Semester

Finally Monday!

Today I start teaching this semester’s course, still at Ashesi University College. I will be teaching one course, Social Theory, to two cohorts of 50 students each. Last year, I did a blog for my class the Social Theory Blog…although it went great and was much fun, this year, I think I will do something else. I believe in doing new stuff and developing as a lecturer. I got some inspiration from Ken Bain’s book “What the best college teachers do” (courtesy of my mother) over Christmas. Will keep you posted.

My classes will take place on Mondays and Wednesdays, one in the morning, one just after lunch. On Tuesdays I will be in my office for administration (read: grading) and office hours.

I also guide three final year students towards their final thesis. This is challenging and fun and I hope I also get to see them almost every week until April when their paper is due.

The other part of my work is research. This year, I hope to be able to spend most of Thursdays and Fridays at Legon/Institute of African Studies working towards my PhD. Thursday mornings is graduate seminars, and the rest of the time I’d spend in the library or in meetings. I am aiming for building a strong relationship with my three (3!) supervisors and putting together a questionnaire to be able to collect my quantitative data by the end of the semester. I have no idea if that is feasible, but I feel like I have been reading forever and now would like a grip on the empiry!

So, there you have my spring and my aspirations.

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All Work, No Play

I have so much to do these days

Setting the alarm on 6 am

Waking up to full-packed days

Full-packed bags

I feel like a dolphin in a sea of A4 sheets

Happily hopping between meetings and lectures

Always reading 4 books, 5 articles and the latest email

Staying in the office until it is dark outside

Keeping a note pad by my bed for all the things Which I Must Not Forget

Setting the alarm on 6 am

Waking up to full-packed days

How I have been waiting to be this busy

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Teaching Ethics in Africa: Giving Voice to Values

Mary C Gentile Giving Voice to valuesThis semester, Ashesi University College‘s newest class, the graduating class of 2014, will receive a gift.

It is the new practical ethics course we will be teaching this year, Giving Voice to Values, inspired by Dr. Mary C. Gentile, previously with Harvard Business School currently at Babson College .  Originally intended for MBA students, the GVV curriculum is available for free for educators.

In a nutshell Gentile in her Giving Voice to Values curriculum suggests that we all have values, the trick is how to voice them or “how to speak your mind when you know what’s right” as it is called in the book (see image).

She has through research found that the single most powerful factor making people  speak up against violations of their values is (No, not a solid upbringing nor a strong faith, but) practicing speaking up!

It is so simple when you think of it that it is absolutely brilliant!

Through learning about yourself, your personal so called enablers and disablers of speaking up –  but also the societal enablers and disablers –  through looking at complex ethical dilemmas and writing scripts on how one could address them, we are providing tools for our students to voice their values in everyday situations here in Ghana.

Last semester, a working group modified the Giving Voice to Values curriculum to the Ghanaian, undergraduate student. We wrote new cases involving “your classmate” and “your uncle” rather than “your employee” and “your CEO” and thought of values conflict situations with a Ghanaian and undergraduate twist, one for instance focusing on family ties, another on plagiarism. I did a pilot of this new program in my leadership class, had a good personal learning curve  and many interesting and eyeopening practical discussions on ethics with my students.

As Ashesi’s mission centers around educating ethical leaders (see for instance this earlier post highlighting ethics at Ashesi), I am excited to see this course being rolled out to the whole freshman class this year and happy to be a member of the initiating team.

Gentile’s book on Giving Voice to Values is just now out, but while waiting for it to be shipped to you, do read this intresting interview with Mary C. Gentile on I’ve Been Mugged-blog.

Now over to you, how do you discuss and practice ethics in your organization/family/workplace?

Pic borrowed from the Giving Voice to Values book-site.

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Almedalen Week in Political Suit

Almedalen Valet PotatoPotato Hampus HallbergEven though the sky is blue and the sun scorching hot, tonight, I am leaving my paradise by the sea to go to town. Why?

Today the traditional one-week event for politicians, journalists, lobbyists and other politically interested start in Visby. It is called “Almedalen Week” as the epicenter of the many meetings is the Almedalen park, where party leaders from the seven major parties give a speech each day of the week. Starting with the current prime minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, tonight.

I thought of working this week, writing some articles for alternative newspaper ETC or the online Swedish news site in English, the Local, but after dropping them an email I never really pursued it further. And maybe for the best.

Now I can attend the seminars, debates and meet-ups I want. As well as my brother Hampus Hallberg’s play, Valet, (see photo) which runs four times: Wednesday and Thursday 1 and 5 pm in Metodistkyrkan on Adelsgatan.

And in between take of the political suit and put on the bathing suit…

Program for the week here.

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Why Blogging is Good for Your Career

KajsaHa's Blogging School

Had lunch with an old friend today and we came to talk about blogging.

My friend feels it could benefit her career to start a personal blog and, not very surprisingly for you my dear readers, I agreed. We had a very inspiring talk and I hope to send you to her blog in a few months time when she has gotten started properly. Of course this is no new topic, Fast Company wrote an article on how a blog can launch a new career a few years a go, for example. But my friend and I talked more about how a blog can improve the career path you are already on.

From our discussion: The seven top aspects of blogging that  could benefit your career are:

  1. Your blog becomes a log of your ideas for yourself. Keeping a blog means constant writing and having a log of what you have accomplished is inspirational. In addition, a blog is a record where you can keep track of your past events, thoughts, reads, projects and so on. (Inspiration and record keeping)
  2. Your blog is like an extended business card. When you promote yourself in person or on social media, you often so not have much space or time to expand on everything you do, but a blog is an almost limitless depository and can serve as an extension of you. I link to my blog on social media and tell people I am a blogger. (Personal branding)
  3. Looking for materials for posts makes listening and reading more active. I feel that I experience the world differently as a blogger: I must have the agenda of any meeting and I pay attention to details such as where all speakers work or what order they get to speak. When something annoying happens to me, I try to take it all in as well, all is content for the blog! (Focus)
  4. Researching for posts is educative. When I write a blog post I almost always have to look up additional details, spellings, websites, organizations, historical facts to make my post complete. This education that comes out of exploring topics both teach me about what is available online and expand my horizons. (Life long learning)
  5. Posts can be used to claim intellectual property rights. When I have written about something, I have logged my own idea online. While some people worry about ideas being stolen, I feel more protected as my ideas are out there with my name attached to them, with a (Intellectual property protection)
  6. Interaction with idols, readers and others. Writing about a personality, a book, a play, an event almost certainly will get someone close to the epicenter reading your words. I have had interactions with people I would never otherwise have come close to because of my blog. Readers input in my work has also made a major addition to my life. (Networking)
  7. A blog makes you visible online. When someone makes a search for me online, my blog and interactions around my blog makes search results that come up mostly be penned by myself. This means a blogger controls his or her web presence much more efficiently than many others, you should too! (Controlling web presence)

What aspect of blogging for your career would you add?

Comic strip made by myself with the help of Toonlet. Updated: Nov 11, 2016.


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Astrient Foundation: Blogging, Career and Communication

My speech at the Astrient Foundation Women’s Forum (with as many men in the audience) on Monday went well.

As the other scheduled speaker could not come I on short notice found myself with plenty of time with the Ashesi students, alumni and other young professionals. I chose to expand on my favorite topic –  blogging.

I also shared some stories from my own brief career focusing on confidence, communication and character. An interactive discussion followed.

I was impressed when the participants wrapped up by taking turns with letting their peers know what they had taken from the session. So many insights, some work related stories, central messages and fine details.

It was a reminder that even if we sit in the same room, experience the same discussion, we’ll hear different things.

Photo: Phoebe Selassie Acolatse

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Astrient Foundation Women’s Forum: Enhancing your Work Image

Astrient Foundation Women's Form AshesiAfter having sweated though the weekend, I am now assuming my malaria parasites are all gone and I will start my week with something interesting. Monday evening, I will be speaking at an Astrient Foundation Women’s Forum event.

Initially, I was hesitant. For the event with the slightly puzzling title “Enhancing your Work Image in the Corporate World”  I felt I was not the right speaker as I wasn’t even too sure about what ‘work image’ was…but after some explanation from the director Phoebe Acolatse, I have prepared to talk about my blog and how I have enhanced my own career.

The Astrient Foundation provides, among other things, scholarships, community educational programs and these women’s networking seminars.

If you are interested, this is the time and place:

Astrient Foundation Women’s Forum

Ashesi University College, Labone

Building 3, Lecturehall 4

6-8pm, Monday 31st May, 2010.

And I am no more hesitant, but looking forward to this experience!

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Final Exams

Final exams mark the end of the academic calendar. Today I am holding my final exams.

For someone who has been a student a larger part of her life, it is interesting being on “the other side”. However in a way it is paradoxically quite similar. I mean, I have studied too for this, putting together an exam is not that easy. Also, I am feeling a wee bit nervous (will questions be understood? Will they all remember to come to Lecture Hall 4 and 5? Will the exam booklets be enough?).

Of course, I will not be taking the exam, but spend two hours perfecting the grading rubric.

So, I guess the biggest difference between being a lecturer and a student is when the students walk out of the lecture hall at 3 PM today, their semester is over, but I still have a week of grading to do…

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