Why Agricultural Systems Thinking?

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I’m gearing up to teach my favorite class again this fall at UMass, Agricultural Systems Thinking, in which we learn how to think about the many problems created by modern industrial agriculture. This post is written for the 25 students who will join me in what I consider to be an exciting exploration into a toolbox for thinkers that might just “save the world.”

Let me explain….

First, the class is called “agricultural” systems thinking simply because I get paid to think about food and farming stuff by the UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture.  The systems thinking tools I teach can be used to better understand any complex system.  Although it is critical to advancing our sustainability agenda, classes in systems thinking are missing from most university programs today.  As I wrote in “Learn to Think Like a Continue reading

A question of faith – struggling with being a Catholic academic

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With a deep breath and a prayer, I wade into a topic I have avoided writing about (or even talking about).  Although I’ve written more than 100 blogs for World.edu over the past 3 years, I’ve rarely shared any thoughts on spirituality and never on religion.

So, why would anyone in their right mind want to write about something as controversial as their own particular form of religion – especially one as unpopular among academics as the Roman Catholic Church?

Why speak out now?

I’ve struggled with my own Catholic identity for more than 50 years, but over the past 15 Continue reading

Catholic leader calls for an end to “business as usual”

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Pope Francis declares global capitalism the “new tyranny”

The Pope wants his Church to be a voice for the poor – as he himself speaks out against economic ideologies that promote “the absolute autonomy of the marketplace” and reject the right of nations to protect people from exploitation by multinational corporations – but he needs our help.  Pope Francis decries global capitalism as a deadly “new tyranny” which imposes its own rules on the poor and powerless.

“Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘Thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills.”

Pope Francis in “The Joy of the Gospel”  (paragraph 53)

NOTE:  I’ve included some “Pope tweets” in this blog.  Pope Francis gets five to twenty thousand retweets for each post like the one below. Follow him here!

Inequality is not inevitable, but rather the result of economic institutions designed by Continue reading