Quarterly earning calls that receive zero questions or a very low number of questions during the question-and-answer session of the call lead to a significant decrease in stock price according to new research from the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin.
McCombs Associate Professor Shuping Chen and her co-authors analyzed nearly 50,000 earnings conference calls from 2002-2012 and identified 9,434 calls that either received zero or a low number of questions during an open-response Q&A session. They found that those companies’ stock prices then dropped significantly following the call, resulting in a $4.3-6.1 million decrease in market capitalization.
Their findings reveal that a typical earnings call carries with it unintended consequences when those calls fail to elicit questions. An increase in information asymmetry, concluded the researchers, leads to an immediate, negative market reaction that is predictable, significant, and avoidable.
Information asymmetry occurs when one person has more information than someone else, such as a corporate executive who has more information about a company than an investor. This is measured by tracking the changes in intraday trading numbers. By taking the midpoint of the daily ask high and the daily bid low, researchers can chart a decrease in stock price surrounding the date of the earnings call. Calls that received zero or a low number of questions exhibited more negative returns in the five days following the calls — up to 135 basis points lower than peer firms similar in size and analyst coverage.
Chen and her co-authors ruled out other variables to confirm their findings, such as company size, day of the week, time of the year, or even whether the call occurred at the same time as a major national news event.
“All things being equal,” says Chen, “the fact that these earnings calls received so few questions is, by itself, the catalyst for the significant, negative market reaction we observed.”
According to the study, the lack of interaction between managers and call participants can be detrimental both to investors and managers: the lack of questions deprives managers of a valuable opportunity to benefit from immediate feedback from market participants, and investors can interpret the lack of questions as a signal to sell.
Chen and her co-authors’ findings call for follow-up research that takes a deeper look at investor relations programs and how they can avoid hosting quarterly earnings calls that don’t generate questions. Initial suggestions include paid-for analyst research or face-to-face meetings with investors to improve firms’ visibility and information dissemination.
Co-authors of the study are Stephan Hollander and Kelvin Law of Tilburg University.
Can we use plants for energy instead of oil? That’s the question one group of intrepid students is trying to answer as part of an innovative program that plugs first-year students into real-world research projects with top faculty and research scientists.
Students in the Biology of Biofuels stream — one of 25 “research streams” in the Freshman Research Initiative (FRI) — investigate the physiology, genetics, breeding and ecology of Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), a promising biofuel species, and compare it with other potential biofuel sources.
Almost seven billion humans live on Earth, supported by finite planetary resources that are being affected by global climate change. Biofuels are an alternative energy source that could be both sustainable and help minimize climate change. But the benefits of growing plants for fuel will depend on both natural limits to plant productivity and competition for space between biofuel crops, food crops and natural ecosystems.
“We’re just trying to understand this plant that no one has actually studied,” says Maria Villalpando, a biology sophomore, about the work she did as a FRI participant.
“One of my personal motivations is to get students excited about doing research,” says Brandon Campitelli, research educator in the College of Natural Sciences for the Biology of Biofuels research stream. (Support for this research stream was provided by a National Science Foundation Plant Genome grant.) Campitelli manages the day-to-day work of the students.
Each year around 800 first-year students work on research projects in faculty labs while earning traditional class credit through FRI. Students in the research streams — cohorts with 30 students each — work under the guidance of faculty, graduate students and peer mentors. Projects include robotics, plant ecology and climate change, infectious disease, white dwarf stars, cancer, drug discovery and more.
“Witnessing as freshmen go from learning basic scientific skills to designing and executing independent research projects with real publication potential is enormously satisfying,” Campitelli says. “There is certainly something special about learning how to do science, in addition to learning the science itself.”First-Year Researchers Find Early Success Compared to their non-FRI peers, students who participate in FRI have higher GPAs, are more likely to graduate and are more likely to go to graduate school. Students emerging from FRI have experience with experimental techniques, lab work and a deep understanding of the scientific process. In his State of the University address on Sep. 22, President Bill Powers said that traditional classroom lectures give students “the product of research.” “[Lectures] don’t expose our students to the process of research, with all of its dead-ends, failures and frustrations,” said Powers. “The Freshman Research Initiative does. So we get more bang for our buck by designing the FRI the way we do.”
This story is part of our “Finding Solutions” series, which explores how UT Austin faculty, staff and students are putting their big ideas to work.
As summer turns to fall, the gubernatorial campaigns of Attorney General Greg Abbott and state Sen. Wendy Davis have ritualistically taken to the airwaves in an effort to shape the outcome of the upcoming election. While much attention has focused on whether a particular ad has “hit the mark,” little attention has been paid to how the separate emotional tones of these ads reflect the strategic plan of each campaign. So far it has been a classic contest between fear and anxiety, and hope and stability, and these rhetorical choices do a lot to tell us about what the candidates really think about the current state of the race.
The impact of emotion on voters’ cognitive processes — and in some cases, their behavior — has been well documented by several prominent scholars. An emotion like hope signals that all is well and that we can rely on our habits, such as in the case of politics with partisanship or ideology. So if you feel hopeful and consider yourself a Republican, even loosely, you’re likely to vote Republican. On the other hand, anxiety signals to those experiencing it that they need to stop and gather new information. Relying on a habitual approach in the face of anxiety — an uncomfortable emotion defined by its uncertainty about a given situation — may be harmful to one’s interests, so anxious people feel compelled to stop and learn more.
Davis kicked off her fall advertising campaign with “A Texas Story,” an ad that outlines the brutal rape of a woman by a vacuum cleaner salesman. There is scary music, grainy footage and an ominous, foreboding tone. These cues are intended to induce anxiety. As the viewer is in this induced state of fear, Davis then presents the information she wants you to learn: Abbott’s minority opinion as a member of the Texas Supreme Court that the vacuum cleaner company was not liable for the salesman’s actions. An anxious viewer might then ask friends or family about the accusation, or turn to a quick online search. The anxiety-inducing ad is an obvious contrast to Abbott’s hopeful message, and Davis’ other recent ads maintain the same tone.
For Davis to have any chance in November, she will need to shake up, or at least loosen, the fundamental partisan dynamics underlying the electorate, the same dynamics that Abbott is looking to maintain. Her use of scary music and intense subject matters are tools for this purpose. This anxiety is beneficial to Davis, just as Abbott’s reliance on hope is beneficial to him. It’s not that either candidate is running a positive or negative campaign per se. It is that each candidate is running the campaign that gives him or her the best chance to win given the electoral context each faces.
There are other elements of Davis’ campaign, in particular the release of her memoir, that provide plenty of hope and resolve for her supporters, but nonetheless, she has chosen to begin the public phase of the election season with a slate of ads that are clearly intended to induce anxiety with the hope of shaking Texans from their reflexively Republican positions. Given this reflexive orientation, Abbott will find success assuming this election proceeds on a business-as-usual track. Producing a hopeful electorate gives Abbott the strategic advantage of reinforcing Republican voters’ partisan predispositions.
By paying attention to the emotional dynamics underlying these prominent campaign ads for each candidate, one can get a clearer sense of how each campaign really views this race, regardless of what you may read in their fundraising emails. In the end, an emotional electorate will pick the next governor of Texas, and the campaigns wouldn’t have it any other way
Bethany Albertson is an assistant professor of government at The University of Texas at Austin and researches in areas related to political attitudes and persuasion. Joshua Blank is manager of polling and research for the Texas Politics Project at The University of Texas at Austin.
To view more op-eds from Texas Perspectives, click here.
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Share this story on Twitter:September 29, 2014
Producing oil through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, uses similar amounts of water on average as producing oil by conventional means, according to a new study by The University of Texas at Austin’s Bureau of Economic Geology.
Bridget Scanlon, a senior research scientist at the bureau and lead researcher on the study, said the findings are important because of the current debate about the amount of water used to produce energy.
“This analysis of water demand for hydraulic fracturing is critical for assessing the adequacy of water resources to support unconventional energy production,” Scanlon said. “Results of this study can be used in future economic and policy studies about environmental impacts of unconventional energy production.”
The study, which has been posted on the website of the Environmental Science & Technology Journal, compared water use in hydraulic fracturing operations in the Eagle Ford and Bakken formations with previous estimates of water use in conventional operations throughout the country. The Eagle Ford play in Texas and Bakken play in Montana and North Dakota account for about two-thirds of the oil produced by hydraulic fracturing in the United States.
Water use for hydraulic fracturing varied significantly between the Eagle Ford and Bakken plays, primarily due to variations in geology, but in both formations the proportion of water used per unit of energy gained was comparable to conventional oil production. The ratio of water used for hydraulic fracturing to oil produced ranged from 0.2 to 0.4 gallons of water for each gallon of oil produced over the lifetime of a well for both the Eagle Ford and the Bakken. This translates to 0.03 to 0.06 gallons of water used per million British thermal unit (Btu) of energy gained. That is in the lower end of the ratio for conventional production in the U.S. from previous studies, which ranges from 0.1 to 5 gallons of water for each gallon of oil produced over the lifetime of a well (corresponding to 0.01 to 0.7 gallons of water per million Btu).
Hydraulic fracturing is a process in which liquid is injected into geological formations at high pressure to extract oil or natural gas. Because of economics, in recent years production has shifted from predominantly dry gas plays, such as the Barnett and Marcellus formations, to more oil-rich plays in the Eagle Ford, Permian and Bakken formations.
The public perception, Scanlon said, is that hydraulic fracturing uses extremely large quantities of mostly fresh water. This underscores the importance of quantifying water use. The study found that increases in water use for oil production are due to increased energy production and not a higher intensity of water use.
The oil and gas industry is using more water because they have increased the rate of production in the United States and are producing more domestic energy,” Scanlon said.
Research scientist associate Robert Reedy and research scientist Jean-Philippe Nicot, both with the Bureau of Economic Geology at The University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences, also contributed to the study.
Funding for this research was provided by the Jackson School of Geosciences and the Shell-University of Texas Unconventional Research program.
To read the study, go to http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es502506v.
The University of Texas at Austin is committed to transparency and disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. All UT investigators involved with this research have filed their required financial disclosure forms with the university. All three of the researchers have received research funding for past projects from major government science and environmental agencies — including the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and Texas Water Resources Institute — and from Shell. Reedy and Nicot have received past funding from Statoil. Scanlon has received research funding to examine global water supplies from BP America.
They comb through documents, cover important meetings, live-blog breaking news and even chase runners preparing for big races to get an interview.
Students in the Moody College of Communication’s School of Journalism are getting hands-on reporting experience by covering assignments in the field, exploring new technology and taking pointers from some of journalism’s biggest names — like the iconic Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, who broke the Watergate scandal leading to President Nixon’s resignation.Students gather around Washington Post legend Bob Woodward, who spoke at the Belo Center for New Media on Sept. 24. [Photo by journalism senior Cassandra Jaramillo]
These young reporters document their experiences online, including on Twitter, using #ReportingUT.
That hashtag is part of the “J310F Reporting: Words” course, in which students use Twitter “as a learning component in the syllabus.”
Robert Quigley, a senior lecturer in the School of Journalism, says the course helps students develop the skills necessary to be a reporter, from newsgathering and writing to journalistic values and beyond. (Check out Quigley’s Tumblr for the class.) The course also helps students meet cross-curriculum requirements to be “exposed to a set of skills and experiences in preparation for a complex world” by carrying two Flags: Writing and Cultural Diversity.
“It’s fun, and our students love it,” says Wanda Garner Cash, a clinical professor in the School of Journalism who teaches the #ReportingUT students. “Over the past four semesters, we have regular Twitter users who follow our class tweets. Responses have come from NPR, The Associated Press, Reuters and scores of journalists.”
Cash says professors encourage students to live tweet class lectures as a way both to take notes and interact with classmates and faculty by sharing links, asking questions and commenting on the topics.
At the many in-the-field reporting assignments students attend — like covering City Council meetings, attending keynote lectures and capturing culture at events like the Keep Austin Weird Festival and the Capitol 10K race — students are required to use the #ReportingUT hashtag as a way to tie together all of the pictures, videos and interviews the class members produce.
Katey Psencik, a digital journalist for KVUE in Austin who also graduated from the School of Journalism, says even though she took the #ReportingUT course more than a year ago, she looks at content under the hashtag as a way to “never stop learning.”
Here’s a look at some of the Tweets from #ReportingUT students, professors and lecturers:
I took the class more than a year ago, but the start of another semester means re-adding #ReportingUT to Tweetdeck. Never stop learning!— Katey Psencik (@psencikk) September 2, 2014 September 24, 2014 June 28, 2014 June 28, 2014 November 21, 2013 June 12, 2014 April 28, 2014 March 3, 2014
Attention newsmakers & gov't agencies: Student journalists are 'real' journalists. #reportingut— Wanda Cash (@cashUT) February 28, 2014 January 27, 2014
About 10 years ago, I led a two-week China business observation tour of McCombs Business School MBA candidates. One of our first stops was at the headquarters of Jack Ma’s Alibaba in Hangzhou, China.
We went to Hangzhou because we had heard that Jack had created an interesting Silicon Valley-like e-commerce company. Jack was a tall, rail thin, intense former English teacher with the personality of a new car salesman.
Alibaba was only 4 years old and had just moved into new, larger offices. Although the paint wasn’t dry, his offices were filled with flat tables covered by row after row of computer monitors. In front of the monitors were bright, intense young men and women wearing headsets.
They were making energetic, emotional phone pitches to Chinese business owners. Their message was urgent and simple.
“The Internet revolution is here. If your company doesn’t have a Web presence, you will miss out on the biggest economic revolution in your lifetime. You don’t have a minute to waste, because your competitors have already signed up with us. If you tell us yes, our team will get you on the Web within the month, and from then on, you can offer your wares to buyers everywhere in the world.”
Eleven years have passed. Alibaba is now a global Internet giant, even though the lion’s share of its revenue comes from China. Later this month, it is scheduled to have its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange. Alibaba’s IPO could be the largest in the history of the world. What we do know is that Alibaba’s IPO will make Jack Ma the richest man in China.
There are arguments for and against buying Alibaba’s stock. For the first time, American investors will have the opportunity to make a “pure play” investment into the amazing growth of China’s middle class. Every year, 30 million to 50 million Chinese join China’s exploding middle class. Since 1980, China’s middle class has grown to 500 million people. Their e-commerce platform of choice is Alibaba and its dizzying array of e-commerce websites.
There are real risks in buying Alibaba’s stock. Alibaba is a Chinese company. The idea of regulatory and business transparency is a foreign concept in China. When Xi Jinping became the president of China, he ordered every Chinese judge to swear allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party first and the rule of law second, so investors will have to “hope” that Alibaba’s financial statements are truthful. Hope, typically, is not a good strategy for investment.
When Alibaba shares started trading on the NYSE, the company had to comply with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rules. This will provide investors unprecedented insight into the operations of a Chinese multinational. But the words “subprime,” “too big to fail” and “Bernie Madoff” are chilling reminders of the limits of our regulatory system.
Today, about 80 percent of the stock of most publicly traded companies in China is owned by the Chinese government. Some fear that the Chinese government could dump millions of shares on the market and drive down the value of everyone’s shares. Others think that it is in the economic and political interest of the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party to be capitalists and maximize the value of the stock that government owns.
I believe that the Chinese Communist Party wants Alibaba’s IPO to become a symbol of the “new” China. I believe that they will give Jack Ma and Alibaba unprecedented freedom to comply with SEC regulations. They know that if American investors get comfortable with buying the stock of a Chinese company, that will open the floodgates to other Chinese IPOs on the NYSE, Nasdaq and other American and European exchanges.
Today, China is the largest mixed economy in the world. Its inexorable move toward capitalism cannot be stopped.
For that reason, and what I saw in Jack Ma’s eyes in 2003, when Alibaba’s stock went public, I knew it could meet the expectation of being one of the largest in history.
John Doggett is a senior lecturer of management in the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas At Austin.
A version of this op-ed appeared in the Austin American Statesman.
What should you do when you get an invitation to connect with someone on LinkedIn who you’ve never met? I say ignore it. It may seem counterintuitive, but that’s the take-home message from our ongoing research at The University of Texas at Austin and Carnegie Mellon University. If you’re unemployed and turning to a site such as LinkedIn to search for jobs and referrals, the size and strength of your network directly affects your ability to find new leads, get peer recommendations and land a job offer.
Online social networks on platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn have, on average, about 150 connections, and many users have networks that exceed 500, but we can usually only recall how we connected with about half of them. Even so, many people are tempted to build a large professional network that they can turn to one day for help finding a new job — but doing so warrants caution. If your online social network is mostly made up of people you barely know or have never even met, it won’t help you land a new job. In fact, it could backfire.
You might assume that having a larger network is the key to finding a new job; more contacts at more companies means more open doors. However, if your network is composed mostly of “weak ties” — people you never met or met once but never contacted again — you may have increased access to job leads, but not to the referrals that turn leads into interviews and job offers.
We tracked 109 unemployed LinkedIn users and found that those with the highest number of weak ties had an easier time finding jobs to apply for, but they had a significantly harder time securing interviews and, subsequently, offers. On the other hand, those LinkedIn users who had more “strong ties” — close friends they knew well and have maintained relationships with — didn’t find as many new job announcements, but when they did apply for an opening, they were more likely to get an interview, and more of those interviews resulted in job offers.
We believe that having a large network made up of predominantly weak ties can backfire when viewed by a recruiter. If you and a recruiter have someone in common, the recruiter will probably contact that person. If your shared connection is strong and can recommend you, you’ll get an interview or an offer. If that person is a weak tie and says, “Sorry, I don’t know her well. We’re just connected on LinkedIn,” then your entire network is suspect, and you’ve probably just lost that interview. In fact, you would have done better without a shared connection.
So job seekers, don’t just “connect” with people. “Know” people. Maintain stronger ties by staying in contact. Build relationships with weak ties by meeting for coffee and catching up when possible. When you meet people at a conference or workshop, don’t just add them to your LinkedIn list. Follow up afterward. Build a network of people who can advocate on your behalf and who would be happy to do so.
Everyone has weak ties, and we understand that those loose connections are valuable because they bring us more leads. But if you don’t have enough strong ties who can apply for a job internally for you or give a recommendation directly to a hiring manager, then those leads are as helpful as finding a “Help Wanted” ad in a newspaper.
Rajiv Garg is an assistant professor of information, risk and operation management in the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin. To learn more about this research, click here.
To see more op-eds from Texas Perspectives, click here.
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Share this story on Twitter:September 23, 2014
Yesterday afternoon, I had the privilege of delivering my ninth and final State of the University Address to the University of Texas community. In the address, I said:
Thirty-seven years ago I fell in love with UT. A lot went into that, but nothing more than our people. Our amazing students. Our unbelievably talented faculty. Our innovative and hard- working staff. Our astonishing alumni and friends. I know all too well what all of you have done for me! Thank you!
You may read the entire address here:
Or watch it here:
Also, you might be interested in this new infographic about the University’s accomplishments:
Thank you for all you have done to make the state of the University of Texas at Austin strong.
A new report from The University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE) reveals a positive relationship between community colleges’ implementation of several “high impact” practices — like offering supplemental instruction and creating learning communities — and students’ completion of developmental courses and persistence from semester to semester.
"A Matter of Degrees: Practices to Pathways” is the third, and last, in a series of annual reports released by the CCCSE. Because research indicates that only 54 percent of students starting at two-year public colleges had earned a degree or certificate or were still enrolled in college six years later, the reports have focused on giving colleges practical, proven ways of reversing low completion rates.
For these reports, the center used data from two national surveys that it administers to identify effective strategies for boosting community college student success rates.
The report comes amid national discussion about improving accessibility, affordability and success rates in higher education.
“In the first report we described 13 high impact practices, like offering tutoring and helping students with academic goal setting and planning, that community colleges can adopt to improve students’ academic outcomes,” said Evelyn Waiwaiole, CCCSE director. “The second report focused on notable differences in engagement between students who participate in those high impact practices and those who don’t.”
Highlights from the most recent report include:
- Clearly stated attendance policies made a big difference; developmental math students were three times more likely to stick with a class when the instructor explained the attendance policies.
- Developmental students were four times more likely to successfully complete a gatekeeper (introductory college credit class) English course if they had participated in a student success course that taught them specific skills such as studying and test-taking.
- Students who registered for all of their courses before the first class session were four times more likely to persist from fall to spring and 11 times more likely to persist from fall to fall.
In this third report the researchers also looked at five structured group practices that colleges can use: first-year experiences, student success courses, fast-track developmental education, orientation, and learning communities.
They found that when students participate in more than one structured group learning experience, the odds improve that they will complete developmental math and/or English and a gatekeeper course with a C or better.
“The more of these engaging, high impact practices that a student can experience, the more likely it is that he or she will reach key academic milestones,” said Waiwaiole. “Research and college practice suggest that students are more successful when institutions adjust their academic model so that these high impact practices are intentionally integrated into established educational pathways.”
The three-year CCCSE initiative was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Lumina Foundation.
Two far-reaching programs at the forefront of higher education — Ethics Unwrapped and the Ethics and Leadership Flag — are giving students at The University of Texas at Austin, and people beyond the Forty Acres, the ability to live ethical lives and set the example for others to follow.
Professor Robert Prentice, the faculty director of Ethics Unwrapped, put together this quiz to test just how ethical you actually are:
Answers are available both at the end of this post and by hovering your mouse over each question.1. True or False: Most adults have solid, well-founded ethical beliefs that can be changed only by new evidence or reasoned arguments.
Hover your mouse over the question, and the answer will appear.2. True or False: I am more ethical than my peers. 3. John is the captain of a submarine. An explosion has caused the sub to lose most of its oxygen supply and has injured a crewman who is bleeding badly and is going to die from his wound no matter what happens. The remaining oxygen is not sufficient for the entire crew to make it to the surface. The only way to save the other crew members is for John to shoot dead the injured crewman now. Then there will be just enough oxygen for the rest of the crew to survive. Is it morally acceptable for John to shoot the injured crewman? 4. True or False: Sally is a tourist in New York City. Late at night she is confronted by a vicious mugger on a side street. Sally starts screaming for help. Sally is better off if there are 20 bystanders close by rather than only one. 5. True or False: If you were in a job interview and an interviewer started asking you sexually inappropriate questions, you would stand up and walk out of the interview. 6. True or False: You are driving and come upon a terrible collision between two cars that just happened. Both cars are on fire and will soon be consumed with flames, killing the occupants. You realize with horror that your brother is unconscious in one of the cars, while two strangers are unconscious in the other. You have time to save the occupants of only one of the cars. The moral thing for you to do is to save the two strangers.
Don’t panic if you didn’t correctly answer all six questions. Prentice says we all tend to overestimate our ability to act ethically, and the good news is that studying ethics education — like watching nearly 50 Ethics Unwrapped videos that anyone, anywhere can use for free — will help you find your ethical bearings.
“The big picture is that everybody…tends to think of themselves as good people with the confidence they’ll make ethical decisions. But we aren’t realistic about the pressures we face,” Prentice says. “The best way for us to prepare students is to explain how hard it will be to live up to their own standards.”
1. False. Most people’s ethical judgments are easily manipulated by simply changing contextual factors. By telling them that their boss has a certain view, that their peers have a certain view, or even just by spraying the room in which they make the decision with “Fart Spray”(yes, there is such a product), psychologists can alter people’s ethical judgments. Because people generally do not realize how easily their ethical judgments are manipulated, they are prone to making poor ethical choices.
2. Who knows? You may be more ethical than your peers. But 85% or so of Americans also believe that they are and that is simply not mathematically possible. This and the fact that 92% of Americans are satisfied with their moral character illustrate the point of Ethics Unwrapped’s video on The Overconfidence Bias that most of us tend to be overly confident in our own morality, which can lead us to make ethical decisions without being sufficiently reflective.
3. There is no incontestably right answer here. But by giving subjects brain-teasers that tempted them to quickly choose obvious answers that turned out to be wrong, psychologists prompted them to be more thoughtful in answering this question. When they did, subjects tended to answer ‘yes’ at a meaningfully higher rate than did people who answered with their gut. When people answer ethical questions spontaneously, they tend to be more deontological (rule-based) in their responses (“Thou Shalt Not Kill”). With more reflection, they tend to take a more utilitarian (consequences-based) approach (taking one life to save many).
4. False. Because of the “bystander effect”-the tendency of people to take their behavioral cues from those around them–Sally may be better off with only one person nearby because that person will know that unless he or she helps, Sally will be in big trouble. If there are many people around, they may all look to each other to see what to do and if no one takes the lead, they may all end up doing nothing. Ethics Unwrapped’s video on The Conformity Bias illustrates how this human tendency can cause bad ethical decision making.
5. False. Probably anyway. In one study, when a group of young women were asked individually what they would do in this situation, virtually every one predicted that she would walk out of the interview or protest in some other fashion. But when other young women were actually put into what they thought was a real job interview, not a single one protested. They all wanted the job so much that the ethicality of the situation just faded away. The Ethics Unwrapped video on Framing illustrates that the kinds of ethical decisions you are likely to make has a lot to do with how you look at the issue. For example, if you see it as an ethical issue you will tend to make different (and more ethical) decisions than if you look at it as simply a business decision.
6. Again, there is no incontestably correct answer here. Most people believe that the right thing to do is to save your brother, even though two people will die instead of one. Many psychologists believe that our tendency to favor in-group members (friends and family) in this way is evolutionarily based and helped our ancestors improve the chances that their genes would be passed down. There is quite a bit of evidence that our moral sense evolved to help us live together cooperatively in groups.
This story is part of our “Preparing Leaders” series, which explores how students are learning valuable leadership lessons.
Vanessa Chorush sometimes finds herself in a hurry, running a few minutes late to class.
But she doesn’t always just step on the gas, breeze through yellow lights and weave past traffic. Instead, she tries to follow the law.
“I am not the exception to the rule — there’s a law for a reason,” says Chorush, a 21-year-old public relations senior from Sugar Land, Texas. “I imagine what would happen if everyone decided to speed?”
Chorush is among the many UT students who have taken a course where participants discussed how to make ethical decisions every day. They’re important lessons for a generation of students that has seen myriad ethical scandals in the media — from Enron’s collapse and steroid use in pro sports to an impeachable presidential lie and questionable police actions — their whole lives.
In more than 100 degree programs at UT, students in different majors not only examine specific instances they may face in their respective fields but also build a foundation of broad approaches to ethical behavior that apply in any profession or stage of life.In a video about “Causing Harm,” Ethics Unwrapped — an online ethics teaching program developed at the McCombs School of Business — explains how emotional harm is a short-term feeling, like being offended, embarrassed or humiliated. But instances of emotional harm can evolve into more longer lasting physiological harm, which makes us feel unsure of our worth and lose confidence in ourselves.
Those courses fall under the Ethics and Leadership Flag, which ties ethics education into existing courses across the undergraduate curriculum.
In Megan Seaholm’s U.S. history course, for example, students don’t just learn when certain events happened, they discuss the factors that caused leaders and followers to make certain decisions and study conflicting influences shaping the nation’s past.
“Students are seeing the relevance of moral issues that recur throughout history,” says Jess Miner, coordinator for the Ethics and Leadership Flag in the School of Undergraduate Studies. “They are stopping to ponder why these issues were important in the past and why they are still important today.”
The Ethics and Leadership Flag courses are setting the pace for the future of higher education. In the coming years, all undergraduate students will be required to complete this flag through courses where at least one-third of the final grade comes from work in practical ethics, or the study of “what is involved in making real-life ethical choices.”
[How ethical are you? Click here for our ethics quiz and put your decision-making skills to the test.]
“UT is trying to graduate students who will go out into the world and be leaders in their fields, regardless of where they go and what they do,” Miner says. “It’s our responsibility to make sure we don’t leave a hole in their education as far as ethics is concerned.”The “Causing Harm” video uses a “wheel of misfortune” to illustrate that ethical people won’t cause harm unless 1) there is legitimate justification that can be explained to the public and 2) everyone else is equally justified in causing the same kind of harm — even to yourself. Ethics Unwrapped Expands Beyond UT
Ethics Unwrapped isn’t stopping with the foundation of behavioral ethics. Upcoming videos will include discussion of general ethics concepts “like the ethics of representation, legal rights vs. ethical responsibilities, causing harm and so on,” according to program director Cara Biasucci.
The Ethics Unwrapped videos have racked up more than 100,000 views and have been shown in more than 150 countries across the globe. The videos are being used to teach ethics not only in courses at the university but also at businesses and more than 100 other colleges and universities, including 45 different disciplines or departments and several dozen business schools.
Ethics Unwrapped isn’t only preparing tomorrow’s leaders — it’s also transforming education.
The program’s international influence coupled with the resources’ easy access have garnered financial support from both the Office of the Provost and The Teagle Foundation, which supports “new thinking in higher education.” The Teagle Foundation awarded Ethics Unwrapped a $150,000 grant — the largest grant the foundation has ever given to the university — in a gesture that validates the program’s efficacy.
“We’re offering stuff nobody else is offering,” says Biasucci, MFA ’99. “In 10 years, we want to be the go-to resource — if anybody around the world wants to teach ethics, they come to us.”
Many courses with the Ethics and Leadership Flag focus on practical ethics, which can vary by discipline. Some courses also explore a more traditional approach to ethical reasoning based on principles of philosophy. Still others tie in behavioral ethics education by using materials developed right here at UT as part of an initiative called Ethics Unwrapped.
“The big picture is that everybody — and I mean everybody: teacher, engineer or Wall Street banker — tends to think of themselves as good people with the confidence they’ll make ethical decisions. But we aren’t realistic about the pressures we face,” says professor Robert Prentice, the faculty director of Ethics Unwrapped.
“The best way for us to prepare students is to explain how hard it will be to live up to their own standards and show them the pressures they’ll face from their bosses, peers and goals not to live up to their own standards,” he explains.
The Ethics Unwrapped initiative, housed in McCombs School of Business since it launched in 2012, started with a focuses on behavioral ethics, or “how and why people make the ethical decisions they do,” says Prentice, who also serves as chair of the Department of Business, Government and Society. The program centers around nearly 50 videos on ethics education that anyone, anywhere can use for free.
“We try to get people to practice how they go about making arguments that support their ethical decision making,” says Minette Drumwright, an associate professor in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations and chair of the Ethics and Leadership Flag committee. “The first step is seeing and recognizing the problem.”
The videos aren’t boring, talking heads rambling about conceptual ethics — they’re lively, colorful and entertaining pieces that include creative animations.
In one video, the businesspeople standing under a “MegaCorp” sign begin to grow pointed devil ears and red tails until the entire group no longer looks like one made of typical professionals. The metaphor illustrates the problem of conformity bias, or the tendency to mimic the behavior of those who surround us rather than following internally held beliefs about what’s right and what’s wrong.
The videos also feature frank feedback from university students who share their experiences with ethical dilemmas.
“I thought it was important for students to relate to themselves and see some of their own experiences reflected back at them,” says Cara Biasucci, the Ethics Unwrapped Program director who uses her filmmaking background to create the pieces. “Ethics doesn’t have to be a standalone course. It can be a component of any course.”
Mixing specific career-oriented ethics education with broader approaches to handling ethical dilemmas through these teaching tools is also helping professors who may not specialize in ethics education to strengthen the ideals of students — from dancers and musicians, future doctors and lawyers, to businesspeople, architects, engineers and everything in between.
“Teachers, architects and engineers all face different ethical issues, but they tend to make the same mistakes,” Prentice said.
Ellen Lobb, a public relations alumna who graduated this past summer, finds herself thinking about the lessons she learned in a course on ethics in the field of advertising and PR.
Lobb says materials from that course are helping her in the post-college workforce — and sparking conversations as she analyzes commercials she sees on TV.
“Ethics are involved no matter what you do,” Lobb says. “After taking the course and seeing how much speaking up about ethics can be for the better, I see the importance. It’s important for UT students to figure out their ethics and morals before they leave the college environment because you can very easily be swayed.”
“If we can reach every undergrad and make them aware of ethics,” Miner says, “the hope is that it will be impossible for them not to think about it when they come to a tough decision.”
This story is part of our “Preparing Leaders” series, which explores how students are learning valuable leadership lessons.
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Behind the Scenes with Ethics Unwrapped Director Cara Biasucci (McCombs Today)
Answering an Ethical SOS (McCombs Today)
Share this story on Twitter:September 22, 2014
There is now a national conversation about the difference between spanking and physical abuse. Many Americans are uncomfortable about physical punishment that injures children, but still favor milder forms such as spanking. In accepting spanking as a form of discipline, we, as a country, are condoning violence against children.
Spanking is hitting, plain and simple. Think about it. Spanking involves a big, powerful person hitting a smaller, less powerful person. Just calling it “spanking” instead of “hitting” does not change that fact. Children are the only group of people whom it is legal for adults to hit. Across all states in the U.S., parents have the right to hit their children in the name of discipline, and in 19 states including Texas, school personnel have the right to hit children in schools. Indeed, school disciplinarians typically use large wooden paddles to strike children when they administer corporal punishment. If an adult were to hit another adult with such a paddle, it would be considered a weapon, and the act would be considered assault.
It is time for parents and educators across the U.S. to rethink our use of spanking as a form of discipline. Research clearly shows that spanking is ineffective at teaching children how to behave appropriately in the future. In fact, spanking actually increases children’s disobedience, problem behavior and aggression. It also increases their likelihood of developing mental health problems such as depression or anxiety. When parents spank often, they increase the likelihood they will injure and physically abuse their children. There is no research evidence that spanking is necessary or effective at correcting misbehavior, regardless of the age of the child.
Yet parents continue to spank despite this growing evidence of its ineffectiveness and harm, primarily because they were spanked by their parents when they were children. Adults throughout America are repeating the phrase, “I was spanked and I turned out OK,” and using that as justification for spanking their own children. Those statements are wrong on two grounds.
First, everything we know about how children learn tells us that hitting does not teach children how to behave. Rather, when parents teach lessons to their children, lead by example, praise children when they behave appropriately, and serve as a source of love and support for children, children learn what behavior is expected of them. Spankings are memorable because they hurt us both emotionally and physically. It’s harder to remember all of the talks, hugs and compliments our parents gave us over the years, but it is those acts, not the spankings, that helped us become who we are as adults.
Second, just because our parents did something to us does not mean we should repeat the same behavior. In my generation, our parents smoked or drank while pregnant and drove us in cars without car seats or even seatbelts. We now know that each of these behaviors is potentially damaging if not life-threatening to children, even though they were “normal” at the time and what everyone did. We can learn from the mistakes of previous generations and from the benefit of years of research by using more effective and less harmful ways of raising our children.
Those of us who were spanked by our parents and “turned out OK” were lucky — lucky that our parents did all the other things that help raise well-adjusted children and adults. It is time to flip the adage on its head to say, “I turned out OK — not because I was spanked, but in spite of it.” Current and future generations of parents can break the cycle and raise confident, well-behaved children without hitting them.
Elizabeth T. Gershoff is an associate professor of human development and family sciences at The University of Texas at Austin and an expert on the effects of spanking on children.
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Spank debate: Is spanking discipline or is it a form of child abuse? UT expert weighs in. http://t.co/fAvhiq66OD.— Texas Perspectives (@TexPerspectives) September 22, 2014
As the White House announces the “It’s On Us” campaign to combat sexual assault on the nation’s college campuses, experts from The University of Texas at Austin are available to talk to reporters about the initiative, sexual assault prevention and university campus culture.
Associate Director of Prevention and Outreach Services, Counseling and Mental Health Center
Contact Joshua Cook at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-232-5849 to schedule interviews
Availability: 9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Bost oversees several prevention and outreach services on campus, including Voices Against Violence (VAV), a program that addresses relationship violence, sexual violence and stalking through support services, counseling and dynamic programming. Bost can comment on campus educational programs that address these issues.
Associate Professor in the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies
Availability: After 11 a.m.
Gross focuses her research on race, gender and violence. She is available to share commentary on the prevalence of sexual assault among women of color, and the importance of raising awareness about this issue on college campuses and surrounding communities.
Professor of Sociology
Warr is available to talk about the prevalence of sexual assault incidents on college campuses. He is a criminologist known primarily for his research on peer influence and social reactions to crime.
A mix of outrage, horror and despair probably best describes many people’s responses to the recent coverage of and reactions to the violent assault of black women. It raises questions about how race may have factored in. Would Ray Rice have been dropped from the Ravens faster if the first video showed him dragging face down a white woman he beat unconscious from an elevator? Would we have needed to see the second video? Would media outlets have used the second video sparingly, out of consideration for the victim, if Janay Rice was white?
But let me also ask this: how different might media coverage be of Daniel Holtzclaw, a police officer from Oklahoma City who faces 16 charges for allegedly raping several black women while on the job, if he was a black officer accused of the rape and sexual assault of eight white women? The answers lead to one cold, hard conclusion: black women’s lives do not matter. They simply do not matter. Not in mainstream America at least, and not in black America either.
For those who disagree, I suspect they would say the NFL has been roundly criticized for its handling of the case – both for initially only giving Ray Rice a slap on the wrists and then waiting until the knockout video surfaced to enact harsher punishment. But it has taken months for the NFL to change its policies and to finally suspend Rice indefinitely. Each step of the way both Rice and the NFL have had their defenders, from people pointing out that Rice is hardly the first player to assault a woman, to others, including many in the black community, suggesting that Janay invited the assault by slapping Ray Rice. Simply put, an unarmed 115-pound woman posed no threat to the NFL player who takes hits from men three times his size for a living. Those who disagree are also willfully ignoring the fact that the number two cause of death for black women and teenage girls is homicide, primarily intimate partner violence. Clearly the NFL, and the NBA for that matter, should have an absolute zero tolerance policy on violence against women but also it cannot just be a room full of men deciding on these policies and evaluating the evidence when cases arise.
With the Holtzclaw case, the relative silence surrounding it coupled with the low-profile media coverage is appalling, and not only because an officer allegedly targeted poor black women for sexual assault, women who ranged in age from 34 to 58 years old, but also given the massive response to the officer involved shooting of unarmed black teenager, Mike Brown. Adding insult to injury would be the crowd funding effort on behalf of the accused and the fact that Holtzclaw has been released on bail, which was reduced from $5 million to $500,000. While there is a petition on Change.org calling for his bail to be revoked, little else on a national level is happening. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson should be fast on their way to insist that the governor revoke Holtzclaw’s bail. The National Organization of Women, at a minimum, should be putting out a statement denouncing the rape of black women and girls. Even if we ignore black women’s grinding poverty, the sky-high rates of HIV infection, and the disproportionate incarceration, the fact is nearly half of all black women have been sexually coerced by the age of 18. The government should roll out an initiative for young black girls now or amend My Brother’s Keeper to include them. And I wonder: will the DOJ launch a probe into the track record of the judge who released an officer accused of targeting impoverished black women for rape and other forms of sexual terrorism, particularly given the current DOJ investigation into the Ferguson Police Department?
Perhaps they should. Maybe things would be different if Holtzclaw had shot and killed his alleged victims, granted they would be dead, but it seems most black women are already dead anyway.
Kali Nicole Gross, associate professor and associate chair of the African and African Diaspora Studies Department at The University of Texas at Austin and she is author of the award-winning book, Colored Amazons: Crime, Violence, and Black Women in the City of Brotherly Love, 1880-1910.
AUSTIN, Texas — In findings of relevance to conservationists and the fishing industry, new research links short-term reductions in growth and reproduction of marine animals off the California coast to increasing variability in the strength of coastal upwelling currents — currents that supply nutrients to the region's diverse ecosystem.
Along the west coast of North America, winds lift deep, nutrient-rich water into sunlit surface layers, fueling vast phytoplankton blooms that ultimately support fish, seabirds and marine mammals.
The new study, led by Bryan Black at The University of Texas at Austin's Marine Science Institute and appearing Sept. 19 in the journal Science, shows that since 1950 the California coast has experienced winters with extremely weak upwelling more frequently than in the previous five centuries.
Winters with extremely weak upwelling are associated with slower growth in fish and lower reproductive success for seabirds, underscoring the importance of upwelling for the conservation of endangered animals and management of commercially important fisheries.
"Our study underscores the fact that California is a place of high coastal upwelling variability," said Black, assistant professor of marine science and lead author on the study. "You have to keep that in mind if you're managing a fishery — for example, you can't plan for every year being moderate or reliable. There are a lot of ups and downs."
Black said it's not possible yet to determine whether climate change has contributed to the changes in winter upwelling variability. The strength of upwelling does seem to be related to a climate pattern called the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). And there is evidence that ENSO has been unusually variable during the past century, which may in part explain the pattern in upwelling extremes.
"This is consistent with what we expect from climate change, but at this point, we can't attribute it to that," said Black. "This is something we need to continue watching to see how climate variability plays out in the coming years.
To reconstruct the past 600 years of upwelling along the California coast, the team used tree ring data from long-lived blue oak trees. The researchers demonstrated that growth patterns in blue oak trees near the coast are highly sensitive to the same climate factors associated with upwelling. During the past 600 years, four of the 10 most extremely poor upwelling years occurred since 1950, and seven of 10 have occurred since 1850.
To study the effects of changing strength of upwelling on marine life, the team integrated data on how quickly fish grew every year since the 1940s, the timing of seabird egg laying since the 1970s, and the fledgling success of seabirds since the 1970s.
When they compared the tree ring data with these various biological indicators, they found poor upwelling years correlated with drops in biological productivity. Because the birds and fish in this study tended to rebound from each of these events within a year or two, the increased variability of upwelling strength has not led to long-term declines.
"It's interesting to see how influential climate is on biology and what a synchronizing force it is, especially across marine and terrestrial systems," said Black.
Researchers have used tree rings to reconstruct climate patterns such as ENSO before, but this is the first study to target such a focused region with such strong and direct consequences on animal growth and reproductive success.
The tree ring data allowed researchers to understand how these ecosystems were influenced by climate variation and extremes long before systematic records were kept. Few direct observations of the climate factors associated with upwelling along the west coast of North America go back more than 70 years.
Black noted that changes in upwelling strength did not affect just fish and seabirds. In a sense, these representative species were just the tips of the iceberg.
"By studying top level predators, we get an upper level view of the entire ecosystem," said Black. "They integrate what's happening across the whole food web."
Black said his team will next try to project how upwelling might change in the future.
"We understand the atmospheric drivers behind winter upwelling, so now we plan to use climate models to see what they say about these drivers and whether they forecast change for those in the future," said Black.
Black's co-authors are William Sydeman and Marisol García-Reyes at the Farallon Institute for Advanced Ecosystem Research, David Frank at the Swiss Federal Research Institute, Daniel Griffin at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, David Stahle at the University of Arkansas, Ryan Rykaczewski at the University of South Carolina, Steven Bograd at NOAA's Southwest Fisheries Science Center and William Peterson at NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center.
This research was funded by the National Science Foundation's Biological Oceanography Program and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries and Environment Program.
The University of Texas at Austin has announced a $3 million gift to establish the Michael and Tami Lang Stuttering Institute, the only specialized research center in the nation to provide treatment services free of charge to children and adults who stutter.
Made possible by Michael Lang (B.B.A. '67, J.D. '70) and Tami Lang, it will also serve as the first nonprofit institute within a university setting devoted to stuttering intervention and research.
Currently, individuals who stutter face a number of barriers to receiving treatment. Most insurers do not cover the cost of treatments, leaving people who stutter and their families to pay out of pocket or forgo speech therapy entirely. Additionally, there is a nationwide shortage of clinicians qualified to treat stuttering, with speech-language pathologists continually reporting that they feel unprepared to competently serve this population.
"It is our hope that the establishment of the Lang Institute will further promote our understanding and the public's awareness of the complex, multifactorial nature of stuttering," said Courtney Byrd, Lang Institute executive director and associate professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. "The Lang Institute will also serve to increase the number of speech-language pathologists who have the competencies needed to effectively assess and treat people who stutter."
The Lang Institute will provide free access to the latest research-based treatments to people who stutter from across the country and advanced clinical training opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students.
It will build on the efforts of Byrd and the existing Jennifer and Emanuel Bodner Developmental Stuttering Laboratory, which has provided treatment to over 450 clients and advanced clinical training to over 350 undergraduate and graduate students since its founding in 2006. These numbers will increase substantially with the founding of the Lang Institute.
There are approximately 15 million children and 3 million adults in the U.S. who stutter. However, there are as few as 1,250 clinicians — less than 1 percent of the total number of speech-language pathologists in the U.S. — willing and able to treat stuttering.
A recent review of 115 accredited undergraduate programs in speech-language pathology has shown that 97 percent of them allow students to graduate with no academic or clinical exposure to stuttering.
With the founding of the Lang Institute, nearly all undergraduates in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders will be educated and clinically trained in stuttering.
"To me, it's a crime that there are children and adults who stutter but cannot find or pay for effective treatment," Michael Lang said. "In supporting the work of the institute, Tami and I dream that within 20 years there won't be anyone in the U.S. who cannot get free, competent help for stuttering."
Research at the Lang Institute will focus on the cognitive and linguistic development of children who stutter and on the formation of innovative assessment and intervention techniques as well as interactive clinical training programs. For example, Byrd has already begun developing video games as treatment tools for children who stutter, Web tools for clients of all ages and virtual reality training modules to help students enhance their clinical skills in working with clients who stutter.
"This gift means that children won't feel alone, and they'll be given tools to build their confidence and skills to respond when kids and adults tease or respond inappropriately to their stuttering," said Courtney Alcott, a parent whose daughter received treatment through the Bodner Lab. "It means that adults who weren't given the opportunity as a child to address their stuttering will be able to redeem the lost years and progress from where they are to improve communication and confidence."
Individuals can learn more about research opportunities and treatment services and schedule an initial evaluation by visiting the Lang Institute website.
A celebration event will take place Monday, Sept. 29, at 4 p.m. in the Belo Center Auditorium (2.106), 300 W. Dean Keeton St., with speakers including Michael and Tami Lang, Byrd, University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers and Moody College of Communication Dean Roderick P. Hart.
"The Lang Institute will serve the Moody College's intellectual and social missions by enhancing the body of knowledge on stuttering through rigorous research and serving the community by providing the best treatments to individuals," Hart said. "We are tremendously grateful for the generosity of Michael and Tami Lang and the tireless work of Dr. Byrd to establish this first-of-its-kind resource."
The world of work continues to change in the United States as brains replace muscle. Nearly 200 years ago, half of all workers were engaged in agriculture jobs; yet today those workers are more productive with less than 5 percent of the jobs. As Texas went from reliance on cattle and cotton, manufacturing rose. But Texas reflects national trends today with no relative growth of jobs in manufacturing for decades.
Population goes where the jobs are, and that is the service category. This includes moving manufactured products arriving from low-wage nations such as China via ships at Gulf ports to rails and highways supplying the nation’s interior. College majors such as “supply chain management” reflect the globalization of manufacturing. The best example is the retailer Wal-Mart, with stores filled with products from across the world maintaining low store inventories through regional warehouses and tight control of supply chains into Asia.
The most significant manufacturing growth that affects Texas occurs, in fact, in Mexico. Now, 1 in 5 of every auto manufactured in North America is made in Mexico. With labor costs as low as $2.50 per hour, auto manufacturing from Canada and the United States will transplant to Mexico. In Texas, jobs will continue to develop to handle the ordering and movement of goods from Mexico into the United States. Service jobs will develop near the Mexican border, mainly in the Valley and a small bump in El Paso. Meanwhile, manufactured goods arriving at Gulf ports will decline as increases in the cost of oil nullify the lower labor cost advantages of Asia. The trend is clear: We will transport more and manufacture less.
There are three basic sectors of the economy: extractive (mining, lumbering, agriculture), manufacturing and service. Service is a broad category including sales, hospital work, insurance, teaching, law, accounting, transportation, public safety and government.
Service is the largest job category in Texas and in the nation. It accounts for more than 80 percent of jobs. In the coming decades, Texas jobs will continue to migrate to services, with no job growth in the other two sectors, extractive and manufacturing. Job content in these two sectors will change, but relative numbers will not increase. Two important developments serve to prevent decrease, and these are the continuing growth of robotics appearing in agriculture, warehouse and medical care; and the ever more sophisticated manufacturing processes, including 3-D or additive manufacturing. The promise of 3-D manufacturing combining computers, the Internet and dimensional printing is to create products at-site and one-at-a-time, thus removing the advantage of low-cost labor far away. If promises are met, this will lead to the decline of Wal-Mart-style enterprises, including global shipping, supply chain management, business travel, etc.
Job creation that includes growing the number of jobs will continue to be in services and applying new manufacturing technologies. Service jobs are flexible and more amenable to innovation than traditional jobs. However, regions of low-cost labor with unskilled and semi-skilled workers will suffer severe job declines. Texas and even more so, Mexico, must increase educational levels or suffer high unemployment as the march of technology continues. Educating brains creates new jobs, and that is the future of jobs!
We are seeing a century-long emerging pattern in the changing character of jobs. One aspect of that pattern is the ever-increasing role of technology. Policymakers must create funding and incentives to push organizations and employees to avail themselves of education. Persons in charge of organizations must work to create continuous learning cultures. Honda received much favorable press years ago for the enthusiasm of its workforce and the power that line employees had to stop the assembly line if they spotted some manufacturing flaw. Those employees that found problems and worked on solutions were celebrated by peers and the corporation.
Parents also play a critical role in preparing their children to succeed at school and at work. Parents must make certain that their students are taking coursework in science, mathematics and technology. Writing and speaking are critical skills as well, and are developed through courses in English, history and the social sciences.
The jobs of tomorrow will continue to change, and we must be ready to harness the potential that tomorrow brings.
Michael Lauderdale is the Clara Pope Willoughby Centennial Professor in Criminal Justice and chair of the clinical and administrative leadership concentration at The University of Texas at Austin. Noel Landuyt is the director of the Institute for Organizational Excellence and a research associate in the School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin.
MEDIA ADVISORY: UT Austin President Powers to Deliver Final State of the University Address on Sept. 22
EVENT: Bill Powers, president of The University of Texas at Austin, will deliver his ninth and final State of the University Address, presenting a public assessment on the progress of the institution. He will highlight the university’s accomplishments during the past year and outline the challenges and goals for the coming year. The event is open to the public.
WHEN: 4 p.m. Monday, Sept. 22
WHERE: The ballroom of the Student Activity Center, 2201 Speedway between 24th and 21st streets.
BROADCASTS AND ONLINE VIEWING:
- The President's State of the University Address will be broadcast live starting at 3:45 p.m. on the Web and on campus cable channels 7 and 11 on Sept. 22.
- Watch live streaming video from the State of the University Address webcast page, http://events.utexas.edu/sotu/webcast, or watch the video afterward. The president's report also will be broadcast live on the Longhorn Network.
BACKGROUND: Powers is the 28th president of The University of Texas at Austin. During his nearly nine years in office his administration has guided the university’s student success initiatives, led a $3.1 billion capital campaign, launched efforts to improve the four-year graduation rates, established a medical school and maintained UT Austin as one of the top universities in the world.
On Monday, Sept. 15, the university celebrates its 131st birthday. Monday night, the university’s Tower will glow burnt orange to celebrate our 131st year as a “university of the first class.” Learn about UT Austin’s history from UT History Central: A comprehensive guide to University of Texas history.
What’s your favorite UT memory? Let us know in the comments and share your answer on social media using #UTat131.
Adolescent girls living in economically disadvantaged families are more likely than their male counterparts to become overweight or obese, according to new research from The University of Texas at Austin.
The study, published online this month in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, shows long-lasting consequences of economic hardship in childhood for the risk of obesity in adulthood. The findings emphasize the need for programs and policies addressing the adverse health effects of socioeconomic disadvantage in childhood and adolescence, says Tetyana Pudrovska, assistant professor of sociology and lead author of the study.
Using data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, the researchers tracked patterns of weight gain among more than 10,000 men and women from high school graduation in 1957 to later career stages in 1993. The findings show that economic disadvantage in early life is significantly linked to higher body mass at age 18 and a greater risk of obesity at age 54. This link is the strongest among women and absent or inconsistent among men.
In addition to health risks, obese and overweight women face multiple social and economic disadvantages, Pudrovska says. The study shows that obese women are less likely than their thinner peers to secure important social resources including education, occupational prestige and earnings. This socioeconomic disadvantage in adulthood further increased the risk of obesity, suggesting a vicious circle of obesity and compromised economic resources. According to the study, this effect was not evident among men.
“Girls born into socioeconomically disadvantaged families are exposed from early life to an unfolding chain of lower socioeconomic status and higher body mass,” says Pudrovska, who is a faculty associate in the Population Research Center. “Women are more strongly impacted than men both by adverse effects of low socioeconomic status on obesity and by adverse effects of obesity on status attainment.”
Why does obesity have such a strong and persistent adverse effect on women’s social achievement? The simple answer is that big is not considered beautiful, Pudrovska says.
“In our perpetual quest for female beauty, slenderness has become paramount,” Pudrovska says. “Physical attractiveness is more closely tied to thinness and more strictly enforced for girls and women than boys and men.”
To stop the cycle of poverty and obesity, Pudrovska urges the need for more public awareness of weight-based discrimination in the labor market.
“Because obesity is not a protected status under federal law, promoting legal protection of overweight and obese persons from unfair treatment in the workplace is important, especially among women,” Pudrovska says.
Co-authors of the study are Eric Reither of Utah State University and Ellis Logan and Kyler Sherman-Wilkins of Pennsylvania State University.