Visiting lecturers to DfS spring 2012, on the subjects of Biomimicry and Genuine Wealth

Economics of happiness book.jpgThe spring session of Hecol 493 Design for Sustainability will have Prof. John Nychka from Chemical Engineering, and Prof. Mark Anielski from the School of Business, both distinguished guest speakers from our University. Their presentations to the class will be dedicated to discuss about two subjects considered concept tools for this DfS class: Biomimicry and Genuine Wealth.

Dr. Nychka has conducted research projects on engineering materials following natural patterns and biomimicry principles. He introduced last year to this class the concept of “Wettability” of materials, an innovative field of research that approaches the creation of new intelligent materials capable of controlling the behavior of water over their surfaces. Dr. Nychka is visiting our class to share his current work on this and other biomimicry matters

Prof. Mark Anielski is author of the Canadian best-seller book The Economics of Happiness: Building Genuine Wealth . He works as permanent consultant for local, national and international communities, businesses and governments. He advices on core subjects like economics, genuine progress, and quality of life indicators. Prof. Anielski is visiting our class to discuss these relevant issues, to exercise our critical thinking and give us an update of his current work.

    • Lisa
    • June 14th, 2012

    Oh, also, I can’t wait to read the book!

    • Lisa
    • June 14th, 2012

    As soon as Prof. Anielski began talking about the Buhtanese, I was practically bouncing in my seat like a child at Christmas. For a while now, I’ve believed that a society fed by capitalism is incredibly immature. ‘We’ are at a point in history where we can identify many of the wicked problems we’ve created, but have little structure in which to find our answers. I believe capitalism is so successful because it is addicting. It is the winning lottery ticket that convinces people to spend all of their resources on the chance that they will be that lucky 1 in a million person. Many of us have realized that ‘money can’t buy happiness’; we’ve adopted a new slogan: ‘happiness comes from within’ and now search our inner selves for its source.

    As mentioned in the Economics of Happiness lecture, the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzen Gyatso, wrote that “the purpose of life is to be happy”. He was reflecting on the topic of Compassion. The Dalai Lama explains, “the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes…It is the ultimate source of success in life.” Just as our definition of Competition contradicts its original meaning, our belief that happiness is achieved by eliminating our own suffering–or in this case, our carbon footprints–contradicts a 26 centuries old philosophy of finding happiness in eliminating the suffering of others. I believe the Dalai Lama’s philosophy on achieving Happiness is what we would call Old Knowledge.

    I’m not saying that we should all abandon our personal goals and devote our lives to following the teaching of Buddhism, just that we should stop thinking of new ways to make our own lives more eco-friendly long enough to take some good advice when it’s offered to us.

    • carlosfiorentino
    • June 13th, 2012

    Thank you all for this great feedback. John and Mark sent gratefulness words to all.

  1. I found both speakers to be very interesting and informative. The topics that were discussed are of great interest to me, looking from both my education and aspiring goals.
    In regards to Prof. Nychka’s presentation, I was intrigued by the area of Material Engineering and their studies of the wondrous materials that nature provides and incorporating them into the man-made world. Simple concepts and principles of physics and chemistry along with the creativity of design all merge into one, as Prof. Nychka exemplified. I believe that it is important to continue studies in this field as nature has always been with us, and hopefully, in the future, will be with us as well. Why not learn from something that has been around from the start?
    Prof. Anielski also had great topics of discussion that I myself always do wonder about – happiness, pursuit, profit and where that all fits in within the studies of economics, ecology and…well, life. It is evident that these topics are rich in detail, facts and discussion. I like how Prof. Anielski did incorporate some other experiences from other cultures and how factors such as wealth, well-being and sustainability are attained and viewed in communities and governments.

    • Lindsey
    • June 12th, 2012

    I found Dr. Nychka’s presentation has made me look at everyday objects and materials differently, wondering what other uses they couId be used for. I also enjoyed the interactive quality of his presentation.

    Prof. Anielski brought up about lot of points related to economics that I hadn’t thought about. I think that if countries did focus on the importance of genuine wealth and happiness of their citizens, countries might find they function better.

    • Gillian
    • June 12th, 2012

    I found it very informative and interesting how GDP is correlated with health. It takes into account what government values, money over well-being of its people.

    The biomimcry lecture was really interesting. I was fascinated by his findings and see the possibility of practical uses.

    • Stephanie
    • June 12th, 2012

    I found both guest speakers to be engaging through the topics they did discussed. I thought it was interesting to hear from professor anielski about the involvement of economics in relation to sustainability. I really enjoyed learning about the properties of materials and biomimicary through Dr. Nychka’s presentation and demonstrations.

    • Sam
    • June 12th, 2012

    Prof. Anielski’s presentation was eye opening because I hadn’t really thought about economics being measured by well-being.

    Dr. Nychka’s presentation was also interesting and helped with my understanding of biomimicry.

    • ManKwan Cheung
    • June 12th, 2012

    I am inspired by John that how biomimicry can help us with design. In the future, I will try to identify any design problem that I have first, then I will try to observe the environment and get inspired by the nature.

    • Sasa
    • June 12th, 2012

    Like everyone else, I found the talks quite interesting. I was very surprised about the natural inspiration behind engineering, and the creativity that it took. Because we are in a field that appreciates holistic approaches, I think it is important to see these alternative views.
    The economics of happiness gave another view, however because it came loaded with facts and statistics, I was a little more reserved about accepting what was being stated. In one example, the positive increase in income seemed to be correlated with a decrease of happiness through time. My skepticism is that income has gone up through time regardless of happiness, and there could be many other aspects that relate to overall happiness. Regardless, I found the talk very interesting and it raised many new and unique ideas and concepts.

    • Ranyu
    • June 12th, 2012

    It’s a pretty interesting speaking. I am superise when I see the graphic that comaper the rate of cancer with the wealth rate. They have the same tendency. I’ve never thought economy in this way~

    • Alessandra
    • June 12th, 2012

    I found John’s presentation very informative and his examples were entertaining. Both speakers has such high energy and enthusiasm for their topics which always helps others get excited and interested in new topics.

    • Kate Carlson
    • June 12th, 2012

    Both of these guest speakers were extremely interesting! Biomimicry is such a fascinating subject, and Dr. Nychka’s presentation was very informative and entertaining! We need to be looking more to nature when we are designing.

    I can not wait to read Prof. Anielski’s book this summer! It is the first book on my list. The topic of economics and genuine wealth & values is fascinating. More people need to hear this lecture!

    • Aislinn
    • June 12th, 2012

    I really enjoyed having the guest speakers. I especially enjoyed the interactive style of Dr. Nychka’s presentation which allowed me to understand a new, more creative side, to engineering.
    It was also interesting to learn more about the economics side, specifically in a design perspective. The correlation of cancer and GDP was especially neat to actually see in a visual graph, creating a really compelling metaphor.

    • Melissa Vuong
    • June 12th, 2012

    I found the guest speakers really informative. They brought up very interesting points to the topics they were here in class to discuss.

    • carlosfiorentino
    • June 11th, 2012

    This is a space for comments, feedback and questions to our guest speakers from Hecol 493 Design for Sustainability class

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