When Johns Hopkins University, the leading institution of today’s COVID-19 statistics, was founded in 1876, it was America’s first research university which combined research and teaching on the model of German universities, in particular the renowned University of Heidelberg. Intererestingly, both institutions nowadays play a crucial role in fighting COVID-19 and are combined with swarm intelligence based research tools such as Nextstrain or the online map developed by the University of Heidelberg that shows the global research activities on coronavirus. Let’s delve deeper an have a look at their historical origins.
While Heidelberg has a long tradition of medical research dating back to 1386, Johns Hopkins University is about 500 years younger, as it was founded in 1876. Based on the antique-medieval model of the “Septem Artes Liberales”, Heidelberg offered his students a common philosophical ground, which then led to specialization in one of the three faculties theology, jurisprudence, and medicine. On the contrary, the ethical foundations of Johns Hopkins can be found in 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was pronounced by Thomas Jefferson, the later 3rd President of the United States.
The Declaration itself states that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Facing COVID-19 and the different situation considering health insurance systems in Europe and the United States, the question is, how can health care not be covered under Life and the pursuit of Happiness?
Thomas Jefferson’s original approach in creation the “Ideal University” was to bring in European education to the United States that could break the chains of colonial intellectual oppression with the ideals of enlightenment based on the theories of Francis Bacon, John Locke, or David Hume. Jefferson himself sent his daughters to Paris, while some of his compatriots preferred Geneva for their boys’ education. In his vision, education was key in order to develop an independent nation that was capable to successfully persist against England:
“Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.” Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States.
The 1819 established University of Virginia (UVA) stood at the end of Jefferson’s vision and the beginning of his goal of an “Academical Village”. The campus ground was based in Charlottesville and was not only revolutionary in the area of medical education but also offered the first college in the United States to teach economics. Jefferson’s primary mission was to prepare the republic’s leaders, and second, helping to establish a primary and secondary system in order to educate citizens. In the long run, UVA played an eminent role for developing medical research in the United States and was vital for the formation of Johns Hopkins University, too. Let’s hope that in the spirit of the Enlightenment, with all the research expertise in the United States, Europe and the rest of the world, we will defeat COVID-19 together: “The Free Spirit shall never die!”
For further reading: John A. Ragosta / Peter S. Onuf / Andrew J. O’Shaughnessy (Editors): The Founding of Thomas Jefferson’s University, University of Virginia Press, Charlottesville / London 2019 (Jeffersonian America). Amazon
This article is the English translation of an Interview with Guy Studer, editor-in-chief, INLINE, FH SCHWEIZ 02/2020
When things do not go as well as desired in companies, Daniel C. Schmid’s services are often called upon. He feels the pulse of an organization, measures its groove. He is particularly fond of the references to jazz. Even the agreement to talk to Daniel C. Schmid is untypical. After the mail inquiry to him, the phone rings minutes later. He spontaneously agrees to a meeting, uncomplicated and soon. With a lecturer and sought-after speakers, one would hardly expect such prompt feedback. A few days later, during the conversation in the café, Schmid will explain in another context:
Was it the same before your holiday? You spent hours browsing through various online catalogs, virtually tracing your itinerary with Google Maps and booking your hotel directly after ensuring that it was in the best location with Street View. Of course, Tripadvisor or Holidaycheck rankings provided all relevant insider information regarding service quality and menu, so that your stomach was well prepared for what awaited it at its destination. And finally, did you also get the dull feeling that you had already experienced everything before you started your journey?
Recently, Jazz improvisation has become a part of the “Holy grail” in Organizational Development, above all under so-called VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) conditions. Effective leadership of the future will be based on relationship building, understanding complex group work, and diverse workforces. For future leaders, it will be key to gain a deeper understanding of the constantly evolving complexities of interpersonal, group and even intergroup relationships.
But, what I will most treasure from this extraordinary experience was less the ideas than the complex weave of ideas and personas. (…). I will refrain from continuing to empty the lesson inventory from which they are drawn and end with a simple deep bow and “Thank You” to a genuine teacher.
This book was put together as a labor of love. The original idea was born by Daniel C. Schmid and Gerhard Fatzer at the 2017 Conference of Trias and at HWZ University of Applied Sciences in Business Administration Zurich. The Spiritus Rector or Master Editor was John Van Maanen with his unique network. The work presents a set of essays cobbled together by friends and colleagues of Edgar H. Schein’s to honor his invigorating and path breaking contributions over six decades to a number of scholarly and applied fields in the social sciences. It is also something of a belated but collective present for Ed on his 90th birthday.
As editors of this work, we asked a set of people who had worked closely with Ed at various stages of his long and continuing career to inscribe what they felt were the lessons they have learned from him as well as what they consider to be his major contributions to their respective fields. We have fifteen essays drawn from a variety of authors, some who emphasize the theoretical and research side of Ed’s work, some who emphasize the developmental and practical side the work, and some who pay attention to both sides since each side informs the other.
The fifteen essays could easily have been multiplied many times over for Ed’s spheres of influence and acquaintances are extensive (and still expansive). His influence is not strictly bound by discipline nor geography. His work weaves various threads drawn from psychology, sociology, anthroology and attracts interest from North America to Europe to Asia. We have tried to be representative of Ed’s diverse concerns in selecting contributors to this collection but, of necessity, spare in asking for papers. Not surprisingly, we met with success when soliciting commentary. All the contributors were enthusiastic and eager to write and delivered on a relatively tight editorial schedule.
The contributors are roughly divided – with some overlap – into four groupings: Colleagues, coworkers with Ed, in the Organization Studies Group at MIT and associates of Ed who worked with him at MIT outside the group in the areas of organizational change and development; former students of his in the Organization Studies Group; two contributors who know well Ed’s fascinating family history, including his son; and three long-time friends of Ed from Europe. The essays from each contributor detail areas of admiration and influence that differ slightly from one another but do come together to offer a rather full portrait of Ed’s special and skilled artistry, a blend of the humanities and social sciences.
To briefly introduce the sections of this collection of appreciative writings, the first section has essays by Lotte Bailyn and John Van Maanen, colleagues in the Organization Studies Group, that focus more or less on the scholarly side of Ed’s work and their lengthy shared history at MIT. This section also includes essays by Peter Senge and Otto Scharmer, associates of Ed’s at MIT but members of different groups in the Sloan School. The latter two essays focus on more on Ed’s applied, helping side and deal closely with his role as an exemplary teacher or, as a label Ed might prefer, a respected coach.
Ed Schein, the humble educator, has developed, articulated, honed, and passed on these deeper principles to a global community of action researchers and reflective practitioners. (…) With a deep bow to a teacher who – more than any other teacher I have ever met – embodies every single principle that he espouses in his own actions and way of being.
The second section features six contributions by former students of Ed’s in the Organization Studies Group who have gone on to have rather notable research and teaching careers of their own: Steve Barley, Gibb Dyer, Gideon Kunda, Deborah Dougherty, Nitin Nohria and Jane Salk. All were doctoral students in the 1980s and, while matriculating in different years, were part of what might be thought of now – although at the time unrecognized – as a small but “hot group” which included the faculty as well. It was quite democratic. Everybody, including grad students were in on the act. There were status differences to be sure but all could speak up and partake in debate. Multiple authorship was common. To some degree, those engaged saw the little group as something of an embattled enclave – both within the Sloan School and MIT at large vis-à-vis the prestigious, quantitatively oriented groups – like economics – that dominated the local pecking order and, externally, in contrast to the traditional “organizational behavior” groups at other larger (and regarded as misguided or dumber) institutions.
The third section consists of two selections. The first offers a quick history of the peripatetic but close knit family life Ed experienced when he was young. As told by Daniel C. Schmid, our man from Zurich grew up in several academic environments far from Cambridge, Massachusetts, during the run up to World War II which was, to say the least, an intense and dangerous moment in time. The second selection is a warm and unique depiction of Ed as both a father and an unintentional futurist written by his son and sometimes co-author Peter A. Schein. Both broaden our view of Ed Schein by portraying his life and times beyond the often-cloistered confines of the academy.
The fourth and last section of the volume presents essays written by European friends of Ed Schein: Gerhard Fatzer, Sabina Schoefer, and Wolfgang G. Weber. Gerhard’s essay takes up his original encounters with Ed Schein in the early 1980s at MIT and traces their evolving relationship over the years. Sabine Schoefer, along with Sylvia Boecker and Gerhard Fatzer, was instrumental in introducing Ed Schein to the German speaking public through his translated books and through six Trias Conferences held in Ed’s birthplace of Zurich. Sabine’s essay present what she calls a “vital toolkit for the development of organizations” that draws on many of Ed’s writings. Wolfgang’s contribution is to compare Ed’s work on dialogue and discourse with some prominent European theorists such as Juergen Habermas.
The volume concludes with a selected list of Ed’s publications. A complete listing would have amounted to well over 200 cites so we have made some editorial deletions – cutting out those one-off publications such as compressed interviews, abridged special interest publications, some brief forwards to other works, short reviews, and summaries of previously published works. We have however highlighted – denoted in the manuscript in bold letters – those books Ed himself considers his most vital and meaningful. And, as is apparent from the testimony given here, it is a body of work that has maintained its relevance and usefulness to a multitude of readers over the demanding test of time.