Thursday, September 30, 2010


This semester I am "teaching" a seminar on GK-12 education, part of a National Science Foundation grant called GLACIER (GLobAl Change Initiative: Education and Research) spearheaded by my departmental colleague Suchi Gopal. I put "teaching" in quotes because I am as much a student in this seminar as any of the 10 advanced graduate students. We are together exploring how science research on topics related to global environmental change can be communicated effectively to public audiences, including grades 5-8 school children. One of the initial things we are grappling with is an appropriate way to blog about our experiences: how each of us can write for the public about our experiences in the classroom - balancing the desire for genuine personal expression, while maintaining professionalism and respecting the privacy of students who provide much of the observational material for blog postings. I have some ideas which I will post in future blog postings here, and welcome comments on those ideas.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Smart cities and wise cities.

just as a smart person is not necessarily a wise person. Case in point: John Poindexter, PhD in Physics from Cal Tech, who smartly but unwisely developed a white house intranet that enabled, but eventually exposed, the Iran-Contra arms smuggling affair and led to his criminal conviction in the Reagan era.

Technology can promote a smart city, but a wise city requires mindfulness and judgment on the part of people. Often technology can work to remove this crucial human role. A smart city could be envisioned as one in which our infrastructure is so smart that humans no longer need to think about their actions - that is a smart, but unwise, city.