Working too much for the earth’s own good

What do a sociologist who wins prizes from economics, a Trappist monk, a former Princeton University school of public affairs Dean, and a best-selling cookbook author have in common? Their work all concerns the dangerous, unsustainable, even violent nature of busyness and overwork.

Perhaps because my position at Concordia is in a time of transition as we consider the possibility of me taking on some new responsibilities, I’ve been primed in recent weeks to notice this theme. Also, in a strange way, I remind myself of a previous post about work “Full Not Busy” from time to time. But what of these diverse voices concerning work, time, and busyness?

It all started when Juliet Schor spoke at the college’s fall Symposium on Faith, Reason, and World Affairs on the topic of work and sustainability. Schor’s lecture was several weeks ago now, so it’s a bit hazy, but one point in particular stuck with me. Schor showed several graphs concerning the length of average work weeks and annual hours worked. In the U.S., like most countries, over time we have reduced the average workweek—the trend is clear from 1950 onward. But, in the past generation or so, while most other countries have continued to decrease annual hours worked, the U.S. has remained steady.

In short, even as the U.S. has increased productivity and relied more on technology, we have not decreased the amount of time Americans work since 1980 or so.« Continue »

5 Stodgy, Ridiculous, Unrealistic Ways to Fix College

These ideas are “stodgy” because in many ways I see them as going back to practices of the past. Like, #1: no college credit for high school courses…


Designing a new course, “Word to the Wise,” Want to help?

Next semester, I’m planning to teach “Word to the Wise: Writing for Religious and Social Change.” I’m posting my thoughts on the course design thus far with the hope that you, dear Internets, will suggest tweaks, correct horrendous ideas, and/or send me more boxes of books to read.


In Praise of the Archbishop of Doubt

In a click-obsessed world it’s not surprising that the archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby, drew some gasping headlines last week. But for me, the truly noteworthy story would have occurred if Welby responded, “No, never have I ever doubted.


Dreaming of an Artists’ Pub (in Fargo)

Reflections on my search (in vain) for a true artists’ pub in Fargo.


Choosing What’s Best for College

As college begins, student faces hundreds of new choices. But what if we opened ourselves to the uncomfortable notion that you don’t always have to choose. Life’s moments have a funny way of choosing you.


Sabbath for Professors…and Students?

As the school year begins, I’m considering an “email Sabbath” clause for my syllabi. But does that mean students, too, should take a day to rest?


Sundry Summer Celebrations

I’m not sure what constitutes the official “end of summer” these days, but I think it’s here for me. Faculty workshops have replaced writing time. Syllabus prep has replaced reading time. New, longer lists of to-dos have replaced my unfinished lists of summer projects. Ready or not, it’s back to school…


Religion & Social Change: Imagining Experiential Learning

Have you had a positive (or negative) experience with service learning, and/or community-based writing assignments? What should I consider as my religion and social change course planning begins?