Living with dignity is accessible to all: Woman leads sanitation programme in Indian slums

Woman leads sanitation programme in Indian slums.

Rhetoric Doctoral Students Prefer ‘Active’ Research

Rhetoric Doctoral Students Prefer ‘Active’ Research via

By Veronique Masterson


Posted: 9/22/11


Many of the 11 students who have graduated from The University of Texas at El Paso’s Rhetoric and Composition doctoral program since 2008 share an interest in working with people and wanting their research to make a positive difference … yesterday.


Lucia Dura, who earned her Ph.D. in 2010, and Todd Ruecker, who is in his final year of the program, are among those who enjoy using what they learn to help others.


Dura, assistant professor of writing and rhetoric, focused her research on rhetoric and social change through positive deviance. This is a concept where investigators tackle nagging situations with simple methods that proved successful for others in the same community or organization. The results often are positive and immediate.


“Research on innovative methodologies like positive deviance can make us more successful at what we do, make our time better spent, and help us break out of our traditional patterns of thinking,” Dura said.


Because her work is innovative and international (Peru, Uganda, Indonesia), it fits perfectly with the global focus of UTEP’s doctoral program, said Maggy Smith, Ph.D., director of the doctoral program in Rhetoric and Composition.


“Lucia’s work interprets people’s view of the world and helps them understand their actions,” Smith said.


Like Dura, Ruecker said he hoped to make a difference now. He actively tutors the students who are part of his dissertation research that centers on writing and writing development with students learning English as their second language.


“As researchers, we say we positively affect the participants indirectly, but ultimately researchers tend to think they’re getting more out of the research process than the participants,” Ruecker said.


He said his research has shown that educators at high schools with high numbers of second-language learners often are forced to spend class time preparing for standardized tests, which have narrow concepts of writing and have a negative impact on the students’ college preparation.


Although still a doctoral student, Ruecker has had four book reviews and four articles published, with three book chapters under review.


These successful students reflect the hard work done by the doctoral program’s faculty members. They were ranked third for scholarly productivity by The Chronicle of Higher Education among national programs in the “Composition, Rhetoric, and Writing” category in 2007. 





Brilliant, Cool, Inspiring is Sugata Mitra: The child-driven education

This (brilliant) man, Sugata Mitra, speculates that “education is a self-organising system, where learning is an emergent phenomenon”….I am amazed and inspired!

More reasons to catch up on complexity science reading soon!

Why some people lead, why some people follow, and why it matters

In countless job or position interviews I’ve been asked: Is a leader born or made? I am not sure I remember my answers too clearly, but what I do remember is the emotional response in my gut when I answer that question. My brain says one thing, my gut sort of reaches out, and there’s a brief inner struggle. Very brief. After all, I have to answer the question and move on to another.

Today I think a leader is made. From the first experience out of the womb, a person “becomes.” That’s my brain talking. As I finished typing “becomes.” my gut kicked in, and said, “But what about those babies that are born with a spark? Sure maybe every baby has a unique spark, but those that are born almost dancing? Those that capture the attention of every passer-by? Those, that as they grow and “make” themselves have a certain magnetism. An undeniable magnetism. I know people like that. And they’re human; they have faults. But they’re magnetic.

Yesterday I came upon a book that might shed some light on this issue. Selected: Why Some People Lead, Why Some People Follow, and Why it Matters; What Evolutionary Psychology Tells Us about Leadership. It is linked below. Let’s see what happens.

An additional resource about the author:

Design thinking for social innovation–can we say a.k.a. “usability”?

Genius article on the relationship between food and language

Complex, imaginative connections between food and language.

Snapshot: “La langue, the word and the idea, is, of course, a gastro-structuralist’s dream, especially when allied to the palate; though the connection between language and eating seems not to have occurred to Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913), the founding father of modern linguistics who first posited a distinction between la langue (a system of language) and la parole (speech or individual utterances). Saussure never seems to have reflected on the fact that it is the elemental experience of taste, registered on the tongue’s cell receptors, which gives rise in the infant to sound communication; and that, further evolved, is the defining characteristic of what distinguishes humans from dumb beasts. Almost all of the nerve endings in a newborn are centralised in tongue and mouth, so that the former acts as an astonishingly precocious processor of information coming from the maternal breast and its milk. Babies use their tongues expressively to register difference of mood and wants. The infant sucks, generates a sound, and, in turn, that sound, learned as a signal to prompt parental attention, will cue up a feed: it is, you might say, a perfect feedback loop.”

Thanks to my new friend Brenda Pancake for sharing this link!

The Nonprofit Paradox July 8, 2010 | Stanford Social Innovation Review

The Nonprofit Paradox July 8, 2010 | Stanford Social Innovation Review.

“Nonprofits tend to recreate within their own organizational cultures the problems they are trying to solve in society. I call this phenomenon the nonprofit paradox.”

“Even arts and culture nonprofits are not immune to the nonprofit paradox. One well-known group crafted celebrated programs that hewed carefully to its mission of celebrating human creativity. Yet its rigid management structures and stultifying decision-making processes quickly crushed new organizational ideas.”

Interesing article with lots of room for solutions….