March 2017: The Good Project Newsletter
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Dear Good Project Friends,

We hope you are all well and enjoying 2017 thus far. This month, we discuss the meaning of civic leadership and a recent conference on that topic at Yale University. We also spotlight Howard Gardner's blog post on artificial intelligence and the professions. The Good Idea of the Month is "Acts of Kindness."
If you have ideas for future newsletters, would like your own work to be highlighted, or want to pass along feedback, please email Danny Mucinskas at
The Good Team
Civic Leadership Through Citizenship Education

What does it mean to be active in civic life? How can leaders create "cultures of belonging"? How can civic actors achieve results in an ethical way?

The Good Project's Lynn Barendsen recently participated in a conference that explored these questions at Yale University. Sponsored by Citizen University and Yale's own Civic Leadership Initiative, the conference featured a number of speakers who discussed different aspects of civic leadership with students. In her own session, titled "Meaningful Work, Meaningful Life in the 21st Century," Barendsen, Executive Director of The Family Dinner Project, proposed ways for participants to consider what is most important to them in their work and life and to nurture a sense of purpose and well-being.

The conference defined civic leadership as "leadership for the common good," which seeks "to solve shared problems, to bridge divides, and to remedy injustice." These words may resonate with many people today, in an era of divisive political rhetoric and controversial and widely-debated events in both national and i
nternational news.

A recent guest blog post on our site from Arina Bokas, a faculty member at Mott Community College, detailed her journey to teach students about citizenship in a concrete way through research projects about political subjects. Indeed, a report in CommonWealth stressed that civic education is needed now more than ever.

How do you think about your own role as a civic actor? Do you consider yourself a leader for any particular cause? How do you talk about civics and citizenship to the young people in your work or life more generally?

Tweet us at @GPHarvard with your answer to one of these questions, and we will share your post!
Artificial Intelligence and the Professions

For the past year and a half, Howard Gardner, one of the founders of The Good Project, has recorded his thoughts on the state of the professions in contemporary society in his blog The Professional Ethicist.

In his post of February 13, Gardner explores the complexities of "Artificial Intelligence and the Professions." With AI capabilities of computers ever-expanding, will these machines some day (perhaps in the near future) come to replace flesh-and-blood human professionals in areas such as accounting, law, or even medicine?

One of the hallmarks of a professional is the ability to make complex decisions under conditions of uncertainty, according to Gardner. The human brain is very good at this type of discernment, taking into account a variety of factors in any situation in a way that machines may find difficult. Yet decision-making capability is already being programmed into AI algorithms, as is the case in driverless cars.

Are there limits to what we would like AI to do for us? For example, would we or our children have a problem with a computer taking charge of our medical care, or are there some things that should simply be "off-limits" to machines and that only humans can do effectively? As algorithms continue to creep further and further into our lives, these questions must be explored and answered.

Click here to read the full blog post.
Good Idea of the Month: 
Acts of Kindness

Last month, The Good Project joined other organizations in spreading the word about Random Acts of Kindness Week, held this year from February 12-18, 2017. The annual event encourages people to perform acts of kindness for friends, loved ones, and strangers alike. On Valentine's Day, we also joined in the #BeMyValenKIND campaign founded by Start Empathy, an initiative of Ashoka, to support empathetic behavior and universal kindness.

Random acts of kindness are one way to spread positivity in the world, with ripples as small as changing someone's day with with a smile or effects as large as changing the way another person experiences the world.

We encourage our network members to continue to perform random acts of kindness for others when opportunities present themselves. For young people in particular, acts of kindness can help foster habits of care, responsibility, and ethics that will be carried forward throughout their lives.
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Recent Blog Posts

Care (“meléte”) and Virtue (“areté”): A “Melarete” Project for Children in Italy
A researcher in Italy discusses a curriculum about virtues and caring that she and her colleagues have created for young children.

An Action Call: “I Am A Citizen” Project
A citizenship education project at a community college in Michigan awakens students to the realities of politics in contemporary America.

Colleagues from the Netherlands Visit The Good Project
We report on the Cambridge visit of our colleagues from the Professional Honor Foundation and their efforts to transform the Dutch professional landscape.

The Professional Ethicist
Click above to read the latest releases from Howard Gardner's blog The Professional Ethicist, including explorations of the relationship between truth and goodness, practical considerations when writing letters of recommendation, and the way that professions have changed over the centuries.
Links of Interest

Are Women More Ethical Than Men?
Research and anecdotal evidence point to gender differences in the way people handle ethically-charge situations (Greater Good Science Center).

One and All
Strategies and resources from the Harvard Graduate School of Education to protect vulnerable students and create open communities (Usable Knowledge).

If You Can't Be Perfect, Be Good
Don't be discouraged if you can't prevent negative consequences for every single action; it is more important to be reflective and develop your ethical compass (The Ethics Centre).

The doctor’s dilemma: is it ever good to do harm?
Medical practitioners frequently face difficult moral decisions, like keeping a patient alive when it causes them more pain than comfort (The Guardian).

Why It’s So Hard to Train Someone to Make an Ethical Decision
Conditions in the classroom should mimic the real world more closely in order to better prepare people to do the right thing (Harvard Business Review).

With Politics Front and Center
HGSE Professor Meira Levinson and students have created case studies for educators to explore free speech, student protests, and controversy in the classroom (Usable Knowledge).
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