On the blog

Do You Hear the Footsteps?

We’re in the final turn of August and I hear the footsteps of fall. Believe me, when you live in Michigan, they crunch like snow and are jet-engine loud.   Fall also means my return to the classroom.  Despite a lifelong love affair with summer, returning to the classroom is stimulating and helps keep me […] Read More

Growing Power — Better Food to More People

I will occasionally publish articles by others that illustrate central ideas in my  book. In this essay, Michelle Lin, a former student in my course on “Solving Society’s Problems through Innovation and Enterprise,” writes about Growing Power, a revolutionary nonprofit urban farm. The essay illustrate how Growing Power embraces Big Picture Design by ensuring that […] Read More

Who Will Change the World: Wal-Mart or Social Entrepreneurs?

Who’s going to save the world — Wal-Mart or the social entrepreneur toiling away with little fanfare? Let’s consider: Wal-Mart, the world’s largest company, sells slightly more than $400 billion a year.  The poorest two-thirds of the planet — people living $4 a day or less — spend about ten times that amount. Each year, […] Read More

Be Encouraged

It’s easy to be discouraged, even cynical, these days.  We’re inching towards defaulting on our national debt.  China is worried we’re acting like a third world country playing financial chicken.  As our government sputters over issues of consequence, the House did just muster the “courage” to pass one bill to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency […] Read More

New Building Blocks in Education

Education correlates with income.  Using Ted Rosling’s wonderful Gapminder program I’ve created a graph showing showing how adult literacy correlates with income around the world. If you want to see these trends change over time (my chart only shows the situation for 2007), try this interactive animation of the data. The Bureau of Labor Statistics data […] Read More

Creating Value: Something from Nothing

By Michael Gordon Physics Pop Quiz. Can something be in two places at the same time?The answer from advanced physics is a clear (ifcounter-intuitive) Yes. Can you create something from nothing? We all know that you can’t — except scientists explain thatyou can, by taking a vacuum (nothing)and blasting it into its dense, complementary matter […] Read More

Microfinance, Science, and Moving Ahead

(This entry was inspired by Jonathan Lewis’ blog entry on the Huffington Post and Social Edge, where I have cross-posted these thoughts. Science seeks the truth but frequently does not arrivethere, at least at first.Theconsequences can be mistaken beliefs and misguided practices that become soentrenched that they are almost regarded as laws of nature.The practical […] Read More

Funding Education for Poor Students

By Michael Gordon 1 Comment Funding poor students could be the next big thing in microcredit and other innovative forms of microfinance that are so new that they don’t even have names. Microcredit is put to many productive uses: as a cushion against the financial ups and downs of poor people whose lives are so […] Read More

Evolution and Invention

How can we make sense of all the changes taking place aroundus?More importantly, how can wecreate the change necessary to attack our most pressing societal problems? Short answer:building blocks.I willreturn to this theme again and again in other posts.But for now: a preview. Eric Beinhocker’s Originof Wealth leans on the theory of complex systems to […] Read More

Brazil Could Teach the US about HIV/AIDS

Those of us who seek societal change have to think about how we can create impact. As an educator, I have the opportunity to share my ideas with students, who can think about them, modify them to suit their needs, and apply them to problems they are attacking. That source of impact is my privilege. […] Read More