Douglas Kriner, Associate Professor of Political Science, held this week’s seminar. Professor Kriner is a specialist in American Politics, Separation of Powers, and the Use of Force, and has produced two influential books: The Casualty Gap: The Causes and Consequences of American Military Policymaking, and After the Rubicon: Congress, Presidents, and the Politics of Waging War. This week, Dr. Kriner lectured and led a discussion on the U.S. Political System. The key question was: Why did President Obama bother to ask Congress whether to bomb Syria? The conversation dug deep into multiple issues, from the US government’s intentions behind waiting so long to take action against Syria to a discussion about whether the US had enough information to fully blame Bashar al-Assad for the chemical attack. Dr. Kriner’s seminar lasted 2 hours and included a 30-minute question and answer section that allowed Fellows to voice their opinions and raise questions of their own.
Today’s seminar, led by Dr. John McCarthy, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior, focused on the idea that technological advancements change our expectations of what a good leader does and the way he or she needs to act in order to succeed. Drawing from eclectic examples ranging from food truck business strategies and crystal ball juggling acts, the seminar explored ways in which one may change with society to bring about positive change.
Dr. John McCarthy, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at Boston University, visited the Fellows for the second time this semester to present the second of his three-part series on leadership. Today’s seminar touched on changes in technology affecting leadership approaches, and also focused on what attributes a person needs in order to be a great leader. He explained that becoming a great leader involves, among other things, making good decisions using limited knowledge and under time pressure. He identified perseverance as more important than charisma, skill, talent, and other characteristics that are often invoked to describe great leadership. Arguing that anyone can lead regardless of personality characteristics, McCarthy identified two meta competencies guaranteed to improve one’s leading abilities: adaptability and self-understanding. Referencing media programs such as I Love Lucy and YouTube’s viral video, “Charlie Bit Me,” McCarthy’s seminar was engaging to all of the Fellows.
Theodore Chadwick, lecturer on finance at Boston University’s School of Management, led today’s seminar that introduced the Fellows’ “My Money Story” assignment. This seminar aimed to not only introduce the fundamental theories around the concept of money in America, but it also provided Fellows a chance to ask questions about the country’s many financial oddities, such as the idea of the stock market, credit scores, and reverse mortgages. Chadwick discussed how people’s resources, education, and ability to share and capitalize on ideas explain how some are able to get ahead financially while others are left behind. Pivotal moments in the country’s financial history, including the 1929 stock market crash, were explained in light of the recent federal shutdown. Chadwick advised Fellows to learn more about the insurance industry and risk management in order to understand familial financial decisions. This seminar was intended to discuss the United States’ unique economy and to arm Fellows with the tools necessary to complete their assignment.
Our speaker today was Professor of Communication, James Shanahan. Professor Shanahan is a mass media effects researcher, specializing in “Cultivation Theory”. He has co-authored numerous books, published several articles, and has edited journals such as Mass Communication. The title of his talk to the fellows, “The Role of Media in the U.S.”, focused primarily on the prevalence of violence in American media, and its effects on the population. The main question of the debate over violent media is whether or not children exposed to violence in media will become violent themselves. Professor Shanahan argued that mental illness and demographics play a much higher role in a person’s tendency towards violence. That being said, Shanahan does believe that media affects us, but more in perception than behavior. His research focuses on the effects of media on people over a long period of time. This research led to Shanahan’s development of “Cultivation Theory”, which hypothesizes that if children are exposed to large amounts of media for long periods of time, their perceptions of the world will be affected. Professor Shanahan explained how this leads people today to have “Mean World Syndrome”, which he displayed by asking the fellows about their opinions of America before they arrived here. This “syndrome” causes people to believe that our world is more violent than it really is, and gave perspective on what the United States is really like.
Dr. Andrew Bacevich, Chair of the International Relations Department at Boston University led today’s discussion with the Humphrey Fellows regarding U.S. Foreign Relations and Foreign Policy. Among other accomplishments, Dr. Bacevich has multiple texts and articles published relating to U.S. history, foreign policy, and current events. Today’s seminar considered multiple questions related to the role of the United States in international conflicts, most notable of which being the civil war in Syria. Topics discussed included several arguments for and against intervention, and what role President Obama has to play in these major decisions. Dr. Bacevich explained how the “multi-power era” of the 21st century further complicates already difficult decisions regarding investing in military action. As to how these powers may affect the United States’ decision on Syria, Dr. Bacevich stated, “Once the door is opened to war, the door is also opened to enormous uncertainty.” Dr. Bacevich fielded questions and spoke on a variety of foreign policy topics that allowed fellows to gain new insights on the American perspective.
Read our annual alumni newsletter, Humphrey Connections 2013, to discover inspiring news from around the world about Humphrey alumni, friends and supporters of the program. As always, there is a special section dedicated to the 2012 Graduation. This year, you will also find reflections from current Fellows about the US Presidential Election.
Many thanks to Jan Hauben and Rachel Johnson for their hard work and attention to detail in helping us create this publication.
We are proud to announce that BU Humphrey Program’s “admired leader”, Professor Jack McCarthy, who has inspired dozens of Humphrey Fellows with his leadership seminar, has been awarded with the 2012 Broderick Prize for Teaching Excellence. It comes as no surprise that he should be the recipient of the BU School of Management’s highest honor for teaching. Professor McCarthy writes: “It was wonderful to be recognized for doing something I enjoy so much. Thank you for your help and support to make this happen.” Many congratulations to you, Jack, for a well-deserved award!
Read our annual alumni newsletter, Humphrey Connections 2012, to find out what’s been happening during the 2011-2012 Boston University Humphrey Fellowship Program. You will discover news and reflections from Humphrey alumni, friends, colleagues and supporters.
Special thanks to Carla Baratta, Jan Hauben, and Rachel Johnson for their tremendous efforts, hard work, and attention to detail in helping us create this production.