Thursday, December 21, 2006
Alex Steffen (ed.)
Worldchanging: a user's guide for the 21st century
Abrams, 2006, 333.7 WOR
Worldchanging began with the belief "That the motive, means and opportunity for profound positive change are already present. That another world is not just possible, it's here. We only need to put the pieces together".
From this simple premise has developed a dynamic not for profit organisation that provides a sophisticated web resource for anyone interested in the ways technology, organisation and collective action can change the world for the better. Having won much critical acclaim as a blog, and demonstrating the great power and usefulness of blogging as a developing medium, Worldchanging.com has been described by science fiction author Bruce Sterling as "The most important web site on the planet".
Browse the website or borrow the book from the RSA Library, and remember, "Changing the world is a team sport."
Friday, December 15, 2006
The Future of Socialism
Constable, 2006, 320.531 CRO
First published in 1956, the latest edition of Andy Crosland's book The Future of socialism boldly declares itself to be "the book that changed the face of British politics".
Despite being written so long before the 'new labour' movement, Crosland, who was a labour MP, was what could be called a revisionist socialist and so held views that posed significant challenges to what many people would consider the traditional 'old labour' values. The Future of socialism is so clearly relevant to the new labour movement that Gordon Brown writes the forward to the latest edition of the book, and Roy Hattersley, in an article in the Times Online argues that:
'If anybody in Labour's leadership is interested in the ideas on which "renewal" could be built, Tony Crosland's The Future of Socialism, published 50 years ago this month, provides the classic formula for relating the ideals of social democracy to the realities of the modern world.'
As support for the current labour government dwindles, the publication of this new edition is timely. The philosophy set out by Crosland is fundamental for the New Labour project, and some might argue, also contains the key for reviving the fortunes of the Party of the future.
The Future of socialism is available to borrow now in the RSA library.
Friday, December 08, 2006
New & Old Wars: Organized Violence in a Global Era
Polity Press, 2006, 303.66 KAL
Tony Blair's recent visit to Washington DC and the increased pressure placed on George W. Bush by the publishing of the findings of the Iraq Study Group, has sharpened the focus of the world's attention to the question of 'ending' the war in Iraq.
From this timely new edition of LSE professor Mary Kaldor's book New & old wars: organized violence in a global era, we can see how the continued and intensifying violence in Iraq constitutes a new war in witch 'the actors are both global and local, public and private. The wars are fought for particularistic political goals using tactics of terror and destabilization that are theoretically outlawed by the rules of modern warfare".
Fully updated and containing a brand new chapter unpacking this issue of war in the post 9/11 world, Kaldor argues that the US-British understanding of a war as being between two nation states (what she calls an 'old war') is not appropriate for addressing the complex nature of 'new war'. New & old wars is a bold re-conceptualization of war in the globalized world. Understanding Kaldor's message and addressing the issues she identifies will be crucial in determining the future direction of global conflict and conflict resolution.
Mary Kaldor presented an RSA lecture in October 2006 entitled 'New & Old Wars'; click the links to listen to it or view it in PDF format.
Read a concise response to the Iraq war from Mary Kaldor in the independent global current affairs website - OpenDemocracy.
Friday, December 01, 2006
Status Quo...?: An Exploration of the Status of Composers, Performers and Songwriters in the UK's Creative Economy.
The Musicians' Union, 2006, 780.905 MIS.
In October of this year RSA Fellow Andrew Missingham published a report commissioned by The Musicians' Union and The British Academy of Composers & Songwriters, examining the status of composers, performers and songwriters in the UK's creative economy.
The UK creating economy is growing quickly and obtaining an increasing significance in term of the UK's wider economic development and cultural landscape. In this report, Missingham suggests that the current 'status quo' is not capable of sustaining the great potential of the world creative economy in the 21st Century, and highlights the need for a new system that encourages the creation of intellectual property (IP).
The report discusses how recent developments within the creative industries in Britain have often focused on the exploitation of IP and questions the effect this is having on creative production. The RSA's recent project on intellectual property rights, the 'Adelphi Charter', constitutes a significant piece of research into the role of IP legislation and a template for a new approach that stimulates IP.
Andrew Missingham has worked for the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Paul McCartney's Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and in 2002 he founded the arts consultancy and 'think and do tank' , 'the hub'.
The report is available to borrow from the RSA library; alternatively the full text is available to download here.
Read a debate between Andrew Missingham and Piers Hellawell regarding the role of classical music in musical education, published in the New Statesman Magazine in October 2005.
Friday, November 24, 2006
Making Globalization Work
Allen Lane, 2006, 337 STI
Nobel Prize winning economist and an adviser to former President Bill Clinton, Joseph Stiglitz was another highly acclaimed speaker at the RSA lectures that formed part of this years Edinburgh International Book Festival.
Following up from Stiglitz's bestselling book Globalization and it's discontents, his latest book Making globalization work brings us up to date with the rapid development of globalization in recent years, and provides crucial insights into ways in which globalization can be managed and directed towards the greater good of the world population. Addressing the generally negative public attitude towards globalization, Stiglitz not only reminds us of the many benefits that the developed world enjoys because of globalization, he also asserts the great potential of globalization to benefit all. In order for this to happen changes need to be made; the reform of global institutions such as the UN, the IMF and the Work Bank, as well as the creation of a system for overcoming international financial instability, are just some of the recommendations Stiglitz makes. His overwhelming message is of our need to understand global problems such as third world debt and the threat of global warming, and to address them by thinking and acting as one global community.
In Making globalization work, Stiglitz devotes whole chapters to the subjects of debt in the developing world and global warming, his solution for the later being a common global tax on carbon emissions. In an interview with the Sunday Times newspaper, Stiglitz praises Britain for taking a leading role on tackling climate change. A clear example of this is the success of projects such as the RSA's CarbonLimited, which has already had a significant impact in government and specialist circles, so much so that environment minister David Miliband is involved in the project.
Why not join the likes of David Miliband, Jon Snow, Alex James and RSA Chairman Gerry Acher in calculating your personal carbon emissions by registering with CarbonLimited's CarbonDAQ.
Friday, November 10, 2006
The RSA Arts & Ecology project , a programme supporting the work of the arts in examining and addressing environmental concerns in an international arena, is holding a conference in December 2006 entitled "No Way Back". Providing different perspectives on ecological issues from major thinkers of our time, and timed to coincide with the new project publication Land, art: a cultural ecology handbook, the conference illustrates the significant progress being made in this area by the RSA in association with Arts Council England.
The RSA library contains a wealth of resources in this area, including books such as Nature: the end of art - environmental landscapes, a collection of works by Alan Sonfist. The New York City based artist who came to prominence in the 1960's, is a pioneer of narrative environmental art and a leader in the Earth/Land Art Movement. His work illustrates the significant tradition of combining art and the environment to promote social change - of which the RSA is now a major contemporary contributor.
Friday, November 03, 2006
Common Ground: around Britain in 30 writers
Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2006, 914.104 COM
Common ground is a celebratory tour around literary Britain. Discussing the relationships between writers and the places where, or about which they write, and commenting on the way both writer an place mutually enrich each other, Common ground also asks what is "the influence of the places that nurtured those works - on ourselves and our subjects?"
Common ground is certainly not an attempt to document every author who has ever become heavily associated with a particular place in Britain, and it is not until you learn more about 26, the not-for-profit literary organization that produced this book, that you begin to understand why it features such an eclectic mix of some the most famous of all British writers, and a number of considerably lesser know writers. For a start, the book is written by 30 different members of the 26 organization, each of whom was responding to an organization wide challenge to write a piece about an author-place relationship that meant something special specifically to themselves. As a group, 26 are concerned with words in general, and many of their founders come from the worlds of advertising, journalism and communications, and so they are perfectly happy to include lyrical musicians such a Van Morrison or the somewhat obscure Stuart Murdoch of the band Belle & Sebastian as "writers". The result is a varied and engaging discussion of both writers that you are familiar with, and those you are almost certainly not. Not only is Common ground a pleasure to read, it just might renew some of your enthusiasm for different literature and music too.
Contributors of note include Ali Smith (winner of the Whitbread Novel Award 2005) and acclaimed novelist Niall Griffiths.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
The Americas: the history of a hemisphere
Phoenix, 2003, 970 FER
Amerigo: the man who gave his name to America
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2006, 970.01 FER
Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, who presented an RSA lecture at the 2006 Edinburgh International Book Festival, is Professor of Global Environmental History at Queen Mary, University of London, and a member of the Faculty of Modern History at Oxford University. Whether in an entertaining biography of Vespucci Amerigo, the man after whom the American Continents were named, or in a biography of the continents themselves, Fernandez-Armesto is an evocative writer of history who manages to balance intellectual interrogation with a compelling style that appeals to a mass readership .
‘The Americas’ - From food to the spread of political ideas, the landmass from northern Canada to the southern tip of Argentina is complexly bound together, yet these connections are generally ignored. In this groundbreaking and vividly rendered work, leading historian Felipe Fernández-Armesto tells, for the first time, the story of our hemisphere as a whole, showing why it is impossible to understand North, Central, and South America in isolation, and looking instead to the intricate and common forces that continue to shape the region.With his trademark erudition, imagination, and thematic breadth, Fernández-Armesto ranges over commerce, religion, agriculture, the environment, the slave trade, culture, and politics. He takes us from man’s arrival in North America to the Colonial and Independence periods, to the “American Century” and beyond. For most of human history, the south dominated the north: as Fernández-Armesto argues in his provocative conclusion, it might well again.
‘Amerigo’ – In 1507 the cartographer Martin Waldseemuller published a world map with a new continent on it which he called America', after the explorer and navigator Amerigo Vespucci. The map was a phenomenal success and when Mercator's 1538 world map extended the name to the northern hemisphere of the continent, the new name was secure, even though Waldseemuller himself soon realised he had picked the wrong man. This is the story of how one side of the world came to be named not after its discoverer Christopher Columbus, but after his friend and rival Amerigo Vespucci.
Read a Felipe Fernandez-Armesto interview with TMCQ.
Friday, October 13, 2006
Eating: what we eat and why it matters
Arrow Books, 2006, 174.966 SIN
Super Size Me
Tartan Video, 2005, DVD SPU
Whether from a Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University or a maverick filmmaker who films the consequences of eating nothing but McDonald's for a month, the politics of eating has become a major issue within contemporary western society. Although sharing the conviction that what we eat matters, Eating and Super size me approach the subject of food from distinctly different angles. Morgan Spurlock's popular documentary film focuses specifically on America and the social political and economic factors that have enabled damaging fast foods to become so prevalent within modern America, as well as the devastating consequences this is having on the health of a nation. Peter Singer focuses on the ethical complexity of food and its relationship with the individual, and is not so quick to place blame on fast food companies such as McDonald's. For example, in an interview with Mother Jones Magazine, Singer praises initiatives such as the burrito chain Chipolte which is owned by McDonald's and aims to use as much organic food as possible.
Super size me - the debate is a McDonald's website addressing many of the issues in Morgan Spurlock's film.
Read a Guardian article on a laboratory replication of Morgan Spurlock's 'Super Size me' experiment.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Coming up from the streets: the story of the big issue
Earthscan Publications, 2001, 052 SWI
Established in 1992, "The Big Issue" magazine has become a hugely successful social enterprise that now operates on four continents and provides thousands of homeless and vulnerable people with the opportunity to achieve financial independence and self-reliance for themselves.
Not simply a highly readable celebration of "The Big Issue" project, in Comings up from the streets Tessa Swithinbank provides us with a detailed case study of an ambitious social enterprise. "The Big Issue", which Swithinbank joined as international editor in 1992, was a steep learning curve for all involved. Frankly and objectively guiding us through this journey, Swithinbank discusses the great many challenges as well as opportunities involved in the setting up and developing of a social enterprise, and as such Coming up from the streets offers practical help and insights to NGOs and governments involved with the homeless, or to those businesses wishing to set up enterprises for the common good.
As part of it's manifesto challenge "encouraging enterprise" the RSA has devoted significant attention to the emerging social enterprise industry, including the hosting of lectures such as "Social Enterprise: here to stay?" which took place earlier this year. However in the August 2006 edition of the RSA journal, an interview with John Bird, co-founder and editor-in-chief of "The Big Issue", questions why homelessness is still an area under represented by social enterprise. Bird argues that the current charity based approach to dealing with homelessness only feeds the physical reliance and sense of psychological dependency experienced by homeless people. From this perspective the role of "The Big Issue", the example it sets, and what can be learnt from the evidence and analysis of accounts such as Coming up from the streets - become hugely valuable.
Friday, July 28, 2006
In Defense of Animals: the second wave
Blackwell Publishing, 2006, 179.3 IND
The RSA Lecture Program for autumn 2006 kicks off with a lecture from Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University. Singer, who edits this pro-animal rights text, is a leading thinker in the field and has been described as 'the world's most controversial ethicist'. He has published books on the ethics of subjects as diverse as food production, allocation of health care resources, globalization, euthanasia, and George W. Bush.
Utilitarian.net contains an entire catalogue of book excerpts, articles and reviews by Peter Singer, including an interview in early 2006 in which Singer states clearly his views on the ethics of animal rights.
Read an Independent Online Review of In Defense of Animals.
Monday, July 17, 2006
Journalist, author and RSA fellow Kevin Cahill presented an RSA lecture in June 2006 entitled "Who owns the world?" The lecture precedes the publication of his forthcoming book of the same name (published in November 2006), and furthered his argument for land reform as a vital means of achieving more equal and economically prosperous societies.
Who owns the world? is highly significant as the first ever attempt to survey every piece of land on the planet. In a typically provocative lecture, Cahill made reference to how little attention has been paid to startlingly accurate primary sources such as the Doomsday book in attempts to understand and research into land ownership in Britain. He also pointed to the inefficiency of land usage caused by the current system of land ownership, criticized the Campaign to Protect Rural England for presenting a false picture of the threat posed by planning and development to rural areas of Britain, and argued that land reform is key in the task of alleviating poverty in the developing world.
The Caledonia Centre for Rural development has an extensive on-line information base for issues around land reform and ownership which contains, among other things, articles on UK agriculture subsidies, community based land reform, and urban land reform.
Kevin Cahill's book Who owns Britain? is available to borrow from the RSA Fellow's Library. Read a New Statesman review of Who owns Britain?.
Friday, July 14, 2006
This contribution to the RSA Journal is a continuation of Bird's significant campaigning on issues of homelessness. Bird has been highly vocal in his criticisms of the way the British "homeless industry" has focused on treating the short-term symptoms rather than long term causes of homelessness. A Guardian article summarizing a talk Bird gave to a Conservative Party organized summit on homelessness in 2005 provides an example of his message. In his forthcoming article for the RSA Journal, Bird turns his attention to the role of government in tackling homelessness, arguing that government provision for homeless people robs them of the opportunity to create meaning and direction in their own lives.
The Government's most recent report on homelessness is available to download:
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Tackling homelessness - thirteenth report of session 2005 - 06.
Friday, June 23, 2006
Former US Vice-President Al Gore presented a lecture entitled "Earth in the Balance Sheet" to a full house in the Great Room of the RSA on June 21st. His influential book Earth in the balance is available to borrow from the RSA Fellows' Library, and has now been followed up with a new film and book - An Inconvenient truth (book published in the UK September 06 - reserve a copy now from the RSA Fellows' Library).
The film has had a high impact pushing the environment to the forefront of the US social and political agenda. The current unwillingness of the USA to ratify the Kyoto Protocol is seen by many as a massive barrier to uniform action on climate change.
Trailer for An Inconvenient truth ......
Gore proved to be both a charismatic and powerful speaker during his RSA performance, indulging in self mockery during his introduction in which he conceded that "yes, I was the next president of the United States", but also describing the need to tackle climate change as "a moral imperative" and speaking with great passion when comparing the kind of united action required to effectively reduce carbon emissions with the bravery and determination displayed by the Allies in their commitment to overthrowing fascism during the Second World War. A podcast of the lecture is available here.
However support for Al Gore has not been universal. The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a lobbying group that stresses limited government regulation and a free-market approach to environmental issues, has created two "Pro-Carbon" television advertisements aimed at countering the effect of what they call the "alarmist" media presentation of worldwide climate change. And before you ask, they are for real......
However, Gore's film has also attracted some more measured criticism. In a recent piece in The Guardian newspaper, John Pilger criticized Gore's role as an environmentalist by pointing out that when Gore was Vice-President under the Clinton administration, the US had an even worse record on carbon emissions than at present.
Such a high profile speaker clearly illustrates the high quality of the RSA lecture program and it's commitment to stimulating discussion and debate of the most crucial issues of the day. Mr Gore's presence at the RSA received significant media attention, including a feature on Radio 4's The Today Program.
A further RSA lecture relating to environmentalism is planned for September (not yet announced). It is due to feature Bjorn Lomborg and be broadcast on BBC Radio 4.
Lomborg, author of The Skeptical environmentalist and Global crises, global solutions (a 2nd edition to be published in July renamed How to Spend $50 Billion to Make the World a Better Place ), is renowned for his controversial views and opposition to the majority of the environmental lobby movement.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
On the Corinthian spirit: the decline of amateurism in sport
Yellow Jersey, 2006, 306.483 TAY
England will be represented by a team of millionaire professional footballers at the 2006 World Cup this summer, but is the increasingly high profile and big money nature of sport good for British society? The subjects of On the Corinthian spirit are 'Charlie Bam', the Corinthian defender who once played with a broken leg, the boys' school story hero Strickland of the Sixth, and the 14th Norwich Cub Scout XI. In this nostalgic book D.J. Taylor provides a fond account of many amateur sports heroes, as well as describing a changing moral universe with profound consequences both for sport and the world beyond it. Tackling a question much pondered over in recent years (including within our own RSA Journal), On the Corinthian spirit seeks to uncover what has been lost and what gained by the advances of professionalism in sport?
Read a review of On the Corinthian spirit by Lincoln Allison, author of Amateurism in sport: an analysis and a defense.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
A selection of short films on show at the festival are available to view online through the BBC Film Network. For more background, take a look at an interview with Shane Walter director of Onedotzero in Digit Magazine. The films featured in the festival lineup are full of substance as well as style - the schedule includes a cartoon look at stem cell research and young director Jes Benstock employs animation to examine the dark industry of tourism that has grown up around the Holocaust. Similarly, the Japanese programme features hi-tech horror Jinniku No Umarekawar [Rebirth Of Human Meat] using contemporary anime to ponder Oriental philosophy. So, rather than undermining the art of storytelling, Walter insists, "it's just about telling stories in a different way."
"Motion blur" the latest book and accompanying DVD publication from Onedotzero is available to borrow from the RSA library. It charts the rapid developement of the moving image over the last decade and features the work of numerous film makers and audio visual experts associated with the Onedotzero project,
For a quick taste, here's a link to the short advert version of Tim Hope's incredibly imaginative contribution, The Wolfman, which is also featured in detail (and full length) in another RSA Library book and DVD : Animation unlimited: innovative short films since 1940.
Shane RJ Walter and Matt Hanson.
Motion blur: onedotzero - graphic moving imagemakers.
Laurence King, 2005. 778.53 WAL
Liz faber and Helen Walters.
Animation unlimited: innovative short films since 1940.
Laurence King, 2006. 791.433 FAB
Available to borrow by RSA Fellows - contact the Library for details. Ask about our Freepost service.
Monday, May 22, 2006
Chew on this: the truth about fast food
Puffin, 2006, 394.12 SCH
Fast food nation: the dark side of the all-American meal
Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001, 394.1 SCH
Based on and extending the work of Eric Schlosser's 2001 bestseller Fast Food Nation (which is also in the RSA library stock), Chew on this presents a comprehensive analysis of the fast food industry. Guiding us through the growth and development of the industry, its success, what fast food actually is, what goes on in the slaughterhouses, meatpacking factories and flavour labs, global advertising, merchandising in UK schools, mass production and the exploitation of young workers in the thousands of fast-food outlets throughout the world, it also takes a look at the effects on the environment and the highly topical issue of obesity. Meticulously researched, lively and informative, with first-hand accounts and quotes from children and young people, Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson handle a very serious subject in a thoughtful and objective manner.
Read an April 2006 review of Chew on this from the Guardian Newspaper.
Read a Powells interview with Eric Schlosser following the release of Fast food nation.
Available to borrow by RSA Fellows - contact the Library for details. Ask about our Freepost service.
Hard facts, dangerous half-truths, and total nonsense: profiting from evidence-based management
Harvard Business School, 2006, 658.403 PFE
Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton show how companies can bolster performance and trump the competition through evidence-based management, an approach to decision-making and action that is driven by hard facts rather than half-truths or hype. Hard Facts guides managers in using this approach to dismantle six widely held—but ultimately flawed—management beliefs in the core areas of leadership, strategy, change, talent, financial incentives, and work-life balance. This practical and candid book challenges leaders to commit to evidence-based management as a way of organizational life – and shows how to finally turn this common sense into common practice.
Read a review of Hard Facts from The Observer Newspaper.
Read an abstract of Hard Facts adapted into an article for the Strategy & Leadership Journal.
Available to borrow by RSA Fellows - contact the Library for details. Ask about our Freepost service.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
The architecture of happiness
Hamish Hamilton Publication, 2006, 720.1 DEB
Accompanied by a successful Channel 4 television series, The architecture of happiness suggests that it is architecture's task to render vivid to us who we might ideally be. Writer and philosopher Alain de Botton considers how our private homes and public edifices - from those of Christopher Wren to those of Le Corbusier and Norman Foster - influence how we feel, as well as how we could learn to build in ways that would increase our chances of happiness.
Read reviews of The architecture of happiness from The Guardian and The Independent newspapers.
Monday, May 15, 2006
Little Brown & Co, 2006, 306.44 POO
Defining its supject as a "mode of speech that persuades by stealth", Unspeak is a book about language as a weapon. Every day, we are bombarded with those apparently simple words or phrases that actually conceal darker meanings. For any government or organization seeking to exert power over a society, connecting with the general public and seeking to influence or even manipulate them is a vital task. Within a democratic society, the use of language is the most powerful tool for achieving this task, whether by a government seeking support for a policy or by a company seeking consumption of a product. Providing on the front cover of the book the terms "climate change", "war on terror" and "ethnic cleansing" as examples of unspeak, Steven Poole traces the globalizing wave of modern unspeak from culture wars to the culture of war, and reveals how everyday words are changing the way we think.
Read a review of Unspeak by Tony Blair's former communications director Alistair Campbell in The Guardian Newspaper.
Steven Poole continues his work in Unspeak through his regularly updated Unspeak blog.
On Late style
Bloomsbury, 2006, 809 SAI
"Each of us can readily supply evidence of how it is that late works crown a lifetime of achievement. Rembrandt and Matisse, Back and Wagner. But what of artistic lateness not as harmony and resolution but as intransigence, difficulty and unresolved contradiction?"
Published posthumously, On Late style is Edward Said's last book of literary criticism, and appropriately examines works created at the end of the lives of many artists across a myriad of genres, including Beethoven, Jean Genet and Glenn Gould. It illuminates the ways in which these works differed from the artists' previous works in an attempt to explore what they tell us about the creative evolution throughout the life of an artist.
Other RSA Library items by or featuring Edward W. Said include...
Parallels and paradoxes: explorations in music and society
Bloomsbury, 2003, 780 BAR
The End of the peace process: Oslo and after
Granta Books, 2002, 956.05 SAI
Reflections on exile and other literary and cultural essays
Granta Books, 2000, 814.54 SAI
Blaming the victims: spurious scholarship and the Palestinian question
Verso, 1998, 956.940 SAI
Culture and imperialism
Vintage, 1995, 306.2 SAI
Edward Said: the last interview - extended version (DVD)
ICA Projects, 2004, DVD DIB
Thursday, May 11, 2006
The secret life of trees
Allen Lane, 2005, 582.16 TUD
William Bryant Logan
Oak: the frame of civilization
W. W. Norton, 2005, 634.972 LOG
The oak tree is found throughout the temperate zones of the world; knowing how to use it has made an astonishing difference to human history. Acorn-eating has sustained humans and animals; oak has been central to religious rites, heating, homemaking and travel by land and sea; the ink from oak galls advanced the written word; oak casks have made possible food and drink storage and transport; oak ships have fought the dramatic naval battles that determined political and economic history. In a lively literary prose typical of this playwrite, William Briant Logan combines science, philosophy, spirituality and history in his biography of this essential tree that has been integral to the path of human civilization, and since time immemorial has been a symbol of loyalty and strength, generosity and renewal. Read a review of Oak at Guardian Unlimeted. Oak is related to the RSA project: RSA 250th anniversary tree planting project.
The age of trees often inspires awe, from the redwoods of California to English oaks. We wonder how they live so long, and how they really work. After all, trees provide us with air to breathe, fruits to eat, and wood to build with - and they do the same for thousands of creatures and plants. In The Secret Life of Trees, Colin Tudge explores the way trees work and what they are, finding out how they communicate, how they tell the time, how they came to exist, and much much more. Strange and surprising, this witty and informative book will make everyone fall in love with the trees around them. A respected science journalist, Colin Tudge has writen for all the major British science magazines and newspapers. Read his article of May 2004 in The Guardian newspaper on GM crops and worls agriculture. The Secret life of trees is related to the RSA project: RSA 250th anniversary tree planting project
In 1998 Richard Rogers was invited to chair a Government Task Force charged with translating sustainable urban development principles into strategic advice for planning authorities in England.
The Urban Task Force was faced with 3 specific urban challenges:
- decline of regional inner-city areas and communities.
- an official prediction of a requirement for 4 million additional households.
- suburban sprawl consuming greenfield sites at an alarming rate, causing social and economic decline within inner-city areas.
The mission statement of the Urban Task Force was 'To identify causes of urban decline, to recommend solutions that will bring people back into our cities and to establish a vision for urban regeneration based on the principles of:
- design excellence.
- social well-being.
- environmental responsibility.
- within a viable economic and legislative framework.'
The result, published in 1999 and making over 100 recommendations, was the report 'Towards an Urban Renaissance: the final report of the Urban Task Force'. The executive summary of this report is available to download.
Six years on, the Urban Task force has come together again to write the report 'Towards a Strong Urban Renaissance'. Published in November 2005 its aim is to stimulate further public debate, encourage new thinking and build on the significant action prompted by the original report.
The work of the Urban Task force is relevant to the RSA projects: RSA Inclusive Design Resource and RSA Commission on Illegal Drugs, Communities and Public Policy, within the RSA Manifesto challenge : Fostering Resilient Communities.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Alternatives to prison: options for an insecure society
Willan Publishing, 2004, 364.680 ALT
Compiling research from a variety of experts conducting research throughout the UK, Alternatives to prison provides a valuable contribution to the search for alternative approaches to punishment and dealing with offenders. It provides a comprehensive and wide-ranging review of the range of issues associated with using the variety of non-custodial sanctions, such as the idea of punishment as communication, electronic monitoring and the community supervision of offenders, and sentencing management.
Including a chapter on dealing with substance-misusing offenders within the community, Alternatives to prison is of relevance to the RSA Commission on Illegal Drugs, Communities and Public Policy.
The RSA is just one organization within a significant movement dealing with public policy including issues of crime & punishment such as prisons. These range from activist groups such as No More Prison, to think tanks such as Rethinking Crime & Punishment who have a number of reports available to download, and academic institutions such as the International Centre for Prison Studies at King's College London.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Lawless world: the whistle-blowing account of how Bush and Blair are taking the law into their own hands
Penguin Books, 2006, 327.41 SAN
International lawyer Philippe Sands presents a fascinating exposé of how the US and UK governments are riding roughshod over international agreements on human rights, war, torture and the environment - the very laws they put in place. The original publication of Lawless world changed the political agenda overnight, and forcing Tony Blair to publish damning material that he'd tried to hide, and prompting renewed media coverage of the justification for the war in Iraq. Now, in this updated edition the author looks at why global rules matter for all of us, and why it is so vital that we act now in order to preserve them.
Read a Guardian Unlimited review of Lawless world.
Designers are wankers
About Face Publishing, 2005, 702.3 MAC
How to be a graphic designer, without losing your soul
Laurence King, 2005, 741.602 SHA
In Designers are wankers, Lee McCormack, designer of "Oculas" explores how creative graduates can make the leap from education into employment within the field of design. Including interviews with influential names in the field of design such as typographer Neville Brody and fashion entrepreneur Paul Smith, Designers are wankers is a valuable guide for anyone embarking on, or developing a career in design, despite it's attention grabbing title!.
Aimed at the independent-minded, How to be a graphic designer without losing your soul is another useful handbook addressing the concerns of young designers who want to earn a living by doing expressive and meaningful work but want to avoid becoming a hired drone working on soulless projects. It includes interviews with 10 leading designers, such as Natalie Hunter co-founder of Airside, John Warwicker of Tomato, and Angela Lorenz.
The Legalization of drugs
Cambridge University Press, 2006, 364.177
In The Legalization of drugs two prominent law philosophers present different sides of the debate over the legalization of drugs. Douglas Husak argues in favor of drug decriminalization, by clarifying the meaning of crucial terms, such as legalize, decriminalize, and drugs; and by identifying the standards by which alternative drug policies should be assessed. He critically examines the reasons typically offered in favor of our current approach and explains why decriminalization is preferable. Peter de Marneffe argues against drug legalization, demonstrating why drug prohibition, especially the prohibition of heroin, is necessary to protect young people from self-destructive drug use. If the empirical assumptions of this argument are sound, he reasons, drug prohibition is perfectly compatible with our rights to liberty.
An excerpt from The Legalization of drugs outlining Douglas Husak's argument, as well as the introduction and first chapter of his earlier book Drugs and Rights are available on-line.
The Legalization of drugs is a resource for the RSA project: RSA Commission on Illegal Drugs, Communities and Public Policy.
Planet of slums
Verso, 2006, 307.76 DAV
Planet of slums charts the expected global urbanization explosion over the next thirty years and points out that outside China most of the rest of the world's urban growth will be without industrialization or development, rather a 'perverse' urban boom in spite of stagnant or negative urban economic growth. With a third of the global urban population living in Dickensian slums, at least half under the age of twenty, Mike Davis explores the threat of disease, of forced settlement on hazardous terrains, and of state violence, on a huge amount of the world population. A taste of Davis' extensive investigation into urban poverty can be found in his article for Orion magazine, entitled Slum Ecology.
Among the dead cities: was the Allied bombing of civilians in WWII a necessity or a crime?
Bloomsbury, 2006, 940.53 GRA
In the course of WWII, the air forces of Britain and the United States of America carried out a massive bombing offensive against the cities of Germany and Japan, ending with the destruction of Hamburg and Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A. C. Graying investigates whether it was justified by the necessities of war. Or was it, in fact, a crime against humanity? Beyond an investigation into a specific aspect of Second World War history, Among the dead cities poses a highly relevant question of morality within warfare in general. A.C. Grayling's March 2006 article on the role of bombing in the war in Iraq in The Guardian Unlimited provides a thoroughly modern context for his observations and argument, while an interview with The Independent newspaper explains exactly why this cultural philosopher has turned his attention to the Allied bombings of Germany & Japan.
The Great transformation: the world in the time of Buddha, Socrates, Confucius and Jeremiah Atlantic, 2006, 930.16 ARM
The centuries between 800 and 300 BC saw an explosion of new religious concepts. But why did Socrates, Buddha, Confucius, Jeremiah, Lao Tzu and others all emerge in this specific five-hundred-year span? In The Great transformation, Karen Armstrong examines this period and the connections between this seemingly disparate group of philosophers, mystics, and theologians.
Useful reviews of The great Transformation can be found at The Independent Online and The Borzoi reader online.
Monday, April 24, 2006
Offshore: the dark side of the global economy
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005, 330.972 BRI
A revealing and chilling exposé on the hidden side of global wealth and power, Offshore is an unprecedented exploration of what can be seen as a mysterious aspect of global society today. BBC producer and corporate investigator William Brittain-Catlin tells the story of how tax havens have become central to global finance and takes us into the secret network of oganisations such as Parmalat- the company known as Europe's Enron- and behind international trade disputes, and into organized crime and terror networks. He argues that through offshore practices the key value of capitalism and civilization alike-freedom-is being put in grave danger.
Offshore is a lecture resource for the forthcoming RSA Lecture "Who's afraid of the New Europe? How off-shoring and tax competition will change the future" on Wednesday 17 May 2006, which is being held in association with leading offshore law firm Appleby Spurling Hunter, which provides a different take on the subject. Further information can be found at the Financial Services Authority and in this Open Democracy article - The Offshore world.
The Offshore world http://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization-vision_reflections/offshore_3375.jsp
Friday, April 21, 2006
Seven secrets of inspired leaders: how to achieve extraordinary results by the leaders who are doing it
Capstone, 2005, 658.409 DOU
In Seven secrets of inspired leaders, extraordinary leaders share innovative ideas for achieving extraordinary results in the face of dramatic change, and illustrate how traditional forms of leadership are becoming obsolete. Phil Blackburn-co-founder of the Inspired Leaders Network-and business writer Phil Dourado distill the insights of top business leaders on the most advanced strategies for responding to today's leadership challenges.
LeaderValues is a free online leadership resource centre.
Seeing what's next: using the theories of innovation to predict industry change
Harvard Business School, 2004, 658.403 CHR
Clayton M Christensen & Michael E. Raynor
The Innovator's solution: creating and sustaining successful growth
Harvard Business School, 2003, 658.406 CHR
Clayton M Christensen is a Harvard Business School professor and leading expert in the field of technical innovation within business.
Seeing what's next offers a three-part model designed to help decision makers spot the signals of industry change, determine the outcome of competitive battles, and assess whether a firm's strategic choices ensure or threaten its future success. This hugely valuable work uses case studies from various industries including aviation and health care and is supplemented with diagnostics and tools.
Challenging the often very predictable process by which innovations are packaged and shaped within companies, The innovator's solution opens the black box of innovation to reveal the critical forces that impact the shaping of innovations within any organization, from inception to launch . It also offers practical guidance for the management of these so called 'disruptive technologies'. The innovator's solution is a resource for the forth coming RSA lecture "Using Disruptive innovation to drive growth and change" on Thursday 15 June 2006.
The Challenge of affluence: self-control and well-being in the United States and Britain since 1950
Oxford University Press, 2006, 306.309 OFF
Using comparative studies of US and British market consumption and drawing on extensive cognitive and social research, The Challenge of affluence provides a reasoned critique of modern consumer culture within western societies, especially confronting the assumption that freedom of choice necessarily maximizes individual and social well-being. The Challenge of affluence is one of the RSA Library 'Books of the month' for April 2006, a good synopsis is also provided by an Economic History Society review .
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Two minds: artists and architects in collaboration
Black Dog Publishing, 2006, 709.04 TWO
Shane Walter R. J. & Matt Hanson
Motion blur: onedotzero - graphic moving image makers
Laurence King, 2005, 778.53 WAL
Two minds explores and critiques the subject of collaboration between artists and architects. Interest and activity in this field is growing rapidly, making this book a timely consideration of an important phenomenon. Extensively illustrated, the book documents 18 projects funded through the RSA Art for Architecture scheme and focuses on work by internationally renowned figures such as Mark Dion, Chris Ofili, David Adjaye and Herzog & de Meuron, alongside that of emerging practitioners. Two minds is the subject of an article in Aprils RSA e-journal.
With a focus on graphic design and digitally-manipulated film, Motion blur profiles and investigates the work of 28 cross-media artists from around the world. As well as screen grabs, it uses interviews, photography, storyboards and sketches to explore the work and reveal the creative processes behind it. An accompanying DVD features the work of those discussed.
What we believe but cannot prove: science in the age of certainty
Free Press, 2005, 502 BRO
John Brockman, of the intellectual forum Edge Foundation, Inc. brings together answers to the question "What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?Â from some of the worlds most eminent scientist and academics. From the future of computing to the origins of intelligence, respectedintellectualss from a variety ofdiscipliness bring together their most personal ideas about the subjects they care mostpassionatelyy about. Spanning a wide range of scientificendeavorsr and human experience in subject and questioningintellectuall principals as far reaching as the nature of "proof", this collection is an insight into the instinctive beliefs of some of today's most brilliant minds as well as an invitation to answer the question yourself.
Negotiating health: intellectual property and access to medicines
Earthscan, 2005, 362.1 ROF
Published by Earthscan, Negotiating health is an analysis on the post-2005 world of pharmaceuticals, and a discussion of how action may be taken to ensure that access to medicines is not sacrificed to corporate attempts to protect business interests. This book contributes greatly to the debate over health in developing countries and comes at a time when significant questions are being asked of WTO policy and regulations in terms of allowing the poorest nations access to affordable medicines, for the treatment of diseases such as AIDS and malaria.
Negotiating health is related to the RSA project - Adelphi Charter .
Earth in the balance: forging a new common purpose
Earthscan, 2000, 333.7 GOR
Earth in the balance is an analysis of the most crucial and far-reaching issues confronting humanity by former US presidential candidate Al Gore. A former journalist, Gore won a seat in the House of Representatives in 1976, has represented Tennessee in the Senate and been Vice-President. Throughout his career he has been a powerful political voice for the preservation of the environment.
Al Gore will present an RSA lecture on Wednesday 21st June 2006.
When the rivers run dry: what happens when our water runs out?
Eden Project, 2006, 333.91 PEA
Ganesh Pangare & Vasudha Pangare
Springs of life: India's water resources
Academic Foundation, 2005, 363.61 PAN
When the rivers run dry and Spring of life are books examining different aspects of water usage and shortages, and are both related to the RSA project Engaging Enterprise in Water and Environmental Sanitation Development.
The South East of Britain has less water per capita than the Sudan or Ethiopia, and while there is less and less rain, our demand grows. Although our water crisis is relatively tranquil, it is repeated - often in vastly more dangerous form - across the world, making the current situation a world-wide water crisis. Fred Pearce's 15-year research into water issues has taken him all over the world, and in that time his vivid reporting has revealed the personal stories behind failing rivers, barren fields, decertification, floods, and water wars. When the rivers run dry takes a global perspective, giving a clear and terrifying picture of the consequences, if no remedial action is taken. However it is also a brilliantly challenging explanation of the steps we must take to ensure the 'blue revolution' the entire world desperately needs. Fred Pearce outlines the argument of his book with an article in The Guardian newspaper from March 2006.
Written by leading researchers in water related issues, Springs of life presents an indepth and valuable account of the availability and uses of water in India. As well as exploring and evaluating common sense solutions to local water problems that many Indian communities have adopted, it also documents the natural beauty of the water bodies, and the ways in which communities live and interact with water, particularly in hostile ecosystems.
After the neocons: where the right went wrong
Profile, 2006, 327.73 FUK
Attacking the right-wing policymakers he has previously associated with, influential political theorist Francis Fukuyama argues that the Bush administration, in the war in Iraq, has wrongly applied the principles of neo-conservatism. He provides an approach which emphasizes the importance of creating multiple international institutions, and of solving the problem of development policy which he believes needs to be directed not only at strengthening economies, but also at building up the state institutions that are necessary for stable economic growth to take place and for democracies to take root in the long term.
A summarizing extract of After the neocons can be read at The Times website, while The Observer and New Statesman both provide reviews.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
The Play ethic: a manifesto for a different way of living
Pan Books, 2005, 306 KAN
At the forefront of what has become known as the 'Re-imagining Social Work Project', Patrick Kane is a director of the creative consultancy New Integrity. Arguing the play is a vitally missing component of modern society’s work ethic, Kane puts forward his manifesto for a different approach to work in this eye-opening book. Shocking, controversial, yet magnificently argued, The Play Ethic is a book no one who works, or has ever worked, can afford to be without.
Technology for humanitarian action
Fordham University Press, 2004, 303.483 CAH
Published through the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs an Fordham University, Technology for humanitarian action is a practical guide to current technologies that can help relief and humanitarian aid workers. Designed to facilitate technology transfer to the humanitarian sector, the essays focus on areas where technology is underused and attempt to predict where new technological advances may be applied. This valuable peace of research illustrates ways in which humanitarian organizations could incorporate technological advances into their humanitarian action program's in order to maximize the impact of humanitarian aid.
In 2005, UNICEF published its latest Humanitarian Action Report.
Further information on advances and uses of medical technology can be found through the Department of Essential Health Technologies, a branch of the World Health organization.
The End of faith: religion, terror, and the future of reason
Free Press, 2006, 200 HAR
Alister E. McGrath
Dawkins' God: genes, memes, and the meaning of life
Blackwell, 2004, 261.55 MAC
The role of religion is an issue of increasing social and political significance in modern society and has been the subject of renewed debate due to contributions from a number of recent books, films and television programs. From the 'Living as a Muslim' episode of Morgan Spurlock's 30 Days series, to Richard Dawkins' own two-part Channel 4 investigation Can you believe it?, and the recent documentary feature film The God who wasn't there, religion is controversially yet unquestionably under the media spotlight.
Sam Harris' The End of faith and Alister McGrath's Dawkins' God are two books attempting to tackle the intellectual foundations of the debate from vastly opposing view points. McGrath, who featured in an RSA lecture in March 2006 debating Daniel Dennett and the ideas put forward in his book Breaking the spell: religion as a natural phenomenon, seeks to defend religion by providing the first book-length response to Richard Dawkin's influential attempt to explain religion by scientific means. Combining scientific analysis and theology, McGrath is particularly convincing is his attack Dawkins' theory of memes.
Sam Harris by contrast provides a more sociological analysis of the effect of religion on modern society and what he considers to be the great conflict between faith and reason. He highlights mankind's willingness to suspend reason in favor of religious beliefs, seeking to explain this human tendency even when those beliefs are often used to justify harmful behavior and sometimes heinous crimes.