Thursday, September 20, 2012

Creating More Peace in the World

Dear All,

Tomorrow, September 21st, is International Peace Day. I would like to use the opportunity to invite you all to think about peace - as well as to do your part in creating a more peaceful world.

Peace has many forms and aspects and can be achieved on many levels. Any form of cultural exchange and/ or cultural sharing, for example - from sharing food to sharing music, poems, or philosophical traditions - is likely to promote global peace. But peace does not only mean international peace, it also includes peace with the natural world, in particular building a sustainable  relationship with the environment and treating other species (animals and plants) in a respectful, responsible, caring, and compassionate way. Of course, peace plays also an important role in everyday life, both in our interaction with the people we meet on a daily basis (family, friends, classmates, co-workers, etc) and in our relationship with ourselves (inner peace).

I would like to invite you to share your thoughts about peace here - either in the form of personal statements, general arguments (short speeches or articles), or creative expressions (poems, stories, artworks, songs, etc) - as well as to tell us about more action-oriented projects you are planning to organize in order to promote peace in today's world.

Please have a look at some of the websites dedicated to Peace Day if you would like to get inspired and, of course, involved, for example:

Thank you - and Happy Peace Day!


Analyzing Texts

Dear All,

I think that looking closely at texts and figuring out what makes them work, is a very useful exercise: on the one hand, it helps us understand why certain texts are convincing (while others are not), on the other, it teaches us how to compose effective texts ourselves.

Please have a look at one or more of the texts listed below and analyze them. Pay attention in particular to how the speaker or writer of each text uses language to get his/her message across. If you don't know how to analyze a text, please check out the following handout: 

I hope you will find the texts interesting - and you will be able to learn from them as well as from your analysis.



1) Speeches & Lectures:

Nelson Mandela, Inaugural Address (May 10th, 1994):

Deepak Chopra, "Speech for Cinema for Peace":

Stephen Hawking, "Does God Play Dice?

2) Articles & Essays:

Elisabet Sahtouris, "Cosmic Beginnings":

Bill McKibben, "A Link between Climate Change and Joplin Tornadoes? Never!":

Peter Slezak, "Thinking about Thinking: Language, Thought and Introspection":

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Taking Responsibility

Dear All,

Our present world is in a serious crisis in many respects: global warming, pollution, the extinction of numerous species of animals and plants, the destruction of wildlife habitat everywhere, the abuse of animals and humans in all parts of the world, racism and discrimination, wars and violence, greed for money and control, etc.

It has been proven over and over that one person can make a difference and create positive change. Martin Luther King, Mahatma Ghandi, and Nelson Mandela are just some of the most obvious examples. As educated people we have the responsibility to take the lead in creating a better future for all of us.

I would therefore like to invite you all to create positive change in one of the many areas that need change - and in a way that makes use of your personal talents and skills. Please share your projects and other ideas with the rest of us!

Thank you,


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Writing & Creativity

Dear All,

Writing may seem boring, but...!

Please listen to at least one of the following talks about writing, storytelling, letters, blogs, and creativity in general, and let us know what you think of it [click on "comment" to share your views]. Feel free to add any other thoughts and/or links you would like to share about these topics.

Thank you,


Here the list:

Chimamanda Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story

Isabel Allende: Tales of Passion

Amy Tan: Where Does Creativity Hide?
JJ Abrams: The Mystery Box

Andrew Stanton: The Clues to a Great Story      

Joe Sabia: The Technology of Storytelling

Ryan Lobo: Photographing the hidden story

Lakshmi Pratury: On Letter-Writing

Neil Pasricha: The 3 A's of Awesome

Isaac Mizrahi: On Fashion and Creativity

Authors on Writing

More Authors on Writing

The Power of Words

Storytelling & Identity

Advice for Writers from Stephen King

Advice for Writers from Garrison Keillor

Advice for Writers from Kurt Vonnegut

Writing Lessons by Jack Kerouac

Wit & Wisdom from Writers about Writing, I

Wit & Wisdom from Writers about Writing, II (critics)

Jaques Derrida: Fear of Writing

Peter Elbow: On Writing

Garrison Keillor: Writing in Different Forms

Toni Morrison: Motivation for Writing

Salman Rushdie: The Creative Process

Margaret Atwood: The Creative Process