Intention: This provides a personal Mission Statement that defines my intentions in revising my legacy ProfWork project, speculates on strategy, and enhances the delivery of the project.
Introduction and Background
My legacy web site, which has evolved as ProfWork, originated as a major programming project in the early 1990s. The original intention was to provide Windows-based tools by which a professor could build a college-level course from scratch: outline the syllabus, build a grade book, and manage the whole affair as a complex project for both the professor and the students. My time for the project was funded and completed, but hung up in legal squabbles.
It didn't matter, since the original ProfWork project was superseded by the arrival of the Internet around 1993. Everything changed, especially the delivery of college-level courses. I realized this while I was on leave from Ramapo College, working at the New Jersey Institute for Collegiate Teaching and Learning, located in the Ph.D. program in Higher Education at Seton Hall University. I will never forget my astonishment when a technician installed the Netscape browser in my office in 1993. A new world opened up to me. I realized instantly that the world had changed! And so must I.
So, I plunged into learning HTML to delivery course content on the Internet, keeping my original trademark, ProfWork. My mission at Ramapo College changed from courses in public policy and Environmental Studies toward a broad focus on sustainability. The change in delivery technology and the substance of my teaching evolved together but were shaped by the exigencies of managing undergraduate and eventually graduate courses in sustainability.
My job now is to turn the sprawling course material into a coherent and informative resource on sustainability. ^
I intend to transition my legacy ProfWork site from its orientation as a sustainability site that supports my classes at Ramapo College to a general resource for sustainability thinking and action. This first construction focuses on the main themes as the foundation for a long-term project that carries me into retirement. The courses that defined the prior orientation were:
Ecology, Economics, and Ethics on the undergraduate level and the graduate Economics of Sustainability course in the Masters in Sustainability Studies at Ramapo College --- which I morphed into Business of Sustainability as I retired. (I am on a medical leave of absence for the spring 2015 semester.)
Public Policy, a general undergraduate course that originally took a Political Science orientation but gradually applied these theories and tools towards aspects of sustainability.
My web site organized material around the syllabus and the schedule of activities for these courses. However, the general undergraduate audiences and even the Environmental Studies students required that I present material within their competence to grasp. The more challenging material was on my mind but remained tangential to the courses. I can dive into more challenging and provocative material in ProfWork 10.3, and intend to do so.
A curricular vacuum required me to tackle economic aspects for sustainability, which I did so with some reluctance. While I had a strong background in economics including much graduate training, I had rejected orthodox economic thought, even Ecological Economics, as inadequate for critical thought in sustainability. But economics, especially its institutional and historical approach, political economy, is indispensable for sustainability. My re-engagement with political economy and the public policy aspects provide the background for what I call strategic sustainability.
I find strange that the intersection of capitalism and sustainability has not been adequately thought through. Indeed, sustainability and capitalism may be incompatible, but capitalism has always been dynamic, flexible, and adaptive. Its claims to efficiency and social justice are essentially ideological, as I seen it. So thinking through the intersection of capitalism and sustainability will be foundational to my strategic sustainability. ^
Goal #2: Thought to Practice: Strategic Sustainability ^
The point of the web site is to encourage concrete steps to implement sustainability from local roots to global consequences. I regard doing so as urgent. For this goal, I draw upon my experience as an advocate planner, a community activist, and as a labor leader.
I call this strategic sustainability, leveraging practical steps into significant results. Such a strategic sustainability must be provisional, tested by concrete practice.
Strategic sustainability will be grounded in political economy and will not be dull, I hope. Sustainability will be resisted by reactionary thinking and vested interests. See my Statement of Concern.
Some good news: Steps to build a just and sustainable world are happening all around us. We need to recognize and acknowledge such efforts. Since these actions emanate from citizens typically operating locally, the actions can often be replicated. The very fact that you are still reading this Mission Statement indicates that you, too, care.
My vision of a strategic sustainability will not call for abrupt societal overhaul or intrusive government intervention. Such grandiose historical changes appear highly unlikely and will be staunchly resisted. The recognition of the need for World Sustainability will likely intensify. Check back here for updates.
No doubt that defining a strategic sustainability will be a daunting challenge, but I want to put this theme up front. ^
This "Rapid Application Development" (meaning provisional but quick) build will present thought-fragments, which Daniel Gelertner in 1990 presciently dubbed tuples. Tuples function as fragments placed in cyberspace devoured by roving spiders for search engines. The tuple-test will be assessed by the speed with which Google discovers and lists the new version of ProfWork as I revise the extensive web site. The first version was uploaded on March 11, 2015 at 5:00 P.M. EST
The legacy site, built around presentation for my courses at Ramapo College, still attracts attention. My weekly web server reports that the site gets nearly 300 page visits per day. The visitors spends more than four minutes, some weeks more than five, on each page. I appreciate such engagement but clearly the site has not been organized for these visitors. This must change, thus the mission of ProfWork 10.3.
No social media accompanies ProfWork: No Facebook. No Twitter. No blog. While visitors are welcome to contact me through email, and I do get feedback, I must expand into a social media presence. I have not yet thought this through but this effort is implied by Goal #2. It will happen. ^