Rather than focus on persuasion techniques to alter attitudes, promising strategies that employ psychology’s rigorous empiricism aim to reduce modern and institutional racism by changing discriminatory behaviors:

Recategorization of schema (mental shortcuts our brains take because we constantly encounter so much information in the world) into larger categories to reduce stereotypes and prejudices. For example, expanding the category of “Muslim” into a larger umbrella of “American.”

Controlled processing to train ourselves to suppress and go beyond its ingrained societal stereotypes and mindfully learn tolerance. Some scientists argue that we all learn our cultural stereotypes, but some develop the ability for controlled processing. An example of such training is to examine an office environment and consider how a handicapped person might work in that space.

Improve intergroup contact in order to undermine prejudice attitudes. History has illustrated this is only productive under certain circumstances: the groups interact on equal status; people have one-on-one contact with members of the different groups; they cooperate and not compete; and they interact in a helpful social climate where authority or the norm encourages contact. Past examples of intergroup exchange, such as initial desegregation in public schools and in the United States Army, lacked such conditions; however, potential for heterogeneous groups to work together for a common goal in harmonious environment exists today for sports teams, coworkers, and classmates.

Dear readers:

Thank you for sharing Our Common Concern over the past several months.  It’s been a pleasure collaborating with you on some of the many pressing social issues we face today.

Unfortunately, I will be taking a temporarily leave of absence as Administrator and Editor of Our Common Concern until late fall 2008.  In the interim, I be willing seeking a guest blogger to take over the day-to-day operations, content and development of this site.

I look forward to continuing our work with all of you very soon.  Thank you again for all of your continuing support — stay tuned!
Best wishes –

Jared

Editor’s Note: The following is part of a series entitled “Common Concern Reruns”, where I will re-post a host of material from the previous iteration of Our Common Concern on blogspot. Unfortunately, many of these issues are as pressing in 2008 as they were in 2007 — so please do read them through, share your thoughts, and get involved. A special thanks to all of the guest bloggers who made these posts possible.

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Update on Global Warming

(Originally published on March 10, 2007)

This is a hot issue– and yes, that’s a pun– so thanks to everyone for posting your comments, and thanks especially to Jen for her hard work! Here’s Part 2 of the two-part series… enjoy!



Learn Even More:

  • Visit Climatecrisis.net to check out the trailer for An Inconvenient Truth, buy the DVD, or calculate your personal impact on global warming. If you’re a teacher, you can also download educational materials to share with colleagues and students.
  • Read The American Geophysical Union’s position on climate change. The AGU is a respected organization comprising over 41,000 Earth and space scientists, who agree that “natural influences cannot explain the rapid increase in global near-surface temperatures observed during the second half of the 20th century.”

Take Even More Action:

  • Buy/rent/borrow An Inconvenient Truth and watch it with everyone you know – friends, classmates, family, and neighbors.
  • Sign The Heat is On! … A petition to urge presidential hopefuls to make a commitment to end global warming.
  • And keep the proverbial Heat On in your everyday life to end global warming for good!

Editor’s Note: The following is part of an ongoing series entitled “Common Concern Reruns”, where I will re-post a host of material from the previous iteration of Our Common Concern on blogspot. Unfortunately, many of these issues are as pressing in 2008 as they were in 2007 — so please do read them through, share your thoughts, and get involved. A special thanks to all of the guest bloggers who made these posts possible.

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Our Ninth Concern: Global Warming

(Originally published March 6, 2007)

You may have heard Al Gore speak about it, read the articles written about it, or seen the newstories discussing it. This week, guest blogger Jen Gaze takes you behind the scenes of Global Warming, and urges you to take action to stop it!

Global warming is the result of an increase in the earth’s average temperature due to a buildup of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Although you may have heard different opinions in the media about global warming and whether it exists, there is no debate among scientists about the fact that global warming IS happening and that WE are causing it by burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests.


The bad news: the U.S. is the world’s largest carbon emitter, and if we don’t start acting now, parts of the world will be uninhabitable in as little as ten years. Scientists project a 20 foot rise in global sea levels which will put low-lying coastal areas across the globe under water. For the first time, scientists have found evidence that polar bears are drowning because climate change is melting the Arctic ice shelf! These and many other changes in our ecological system are indications that global warming has, and will continue to disrupt nature’s delicate balance.


The good news: there is still time to avert impending environmental disaster. By taking a few simple steps, each one of us can play a role in making our earth healthy again.


Learn More:


Take Action:

  • Easy as 1, 2, 3! — Commit to making three simple changes in your life to help stop global warming. Here’s just a few I found on the website:
    • Switch to energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs. They use 60% less energy than a regular light bulb and can help reduce your electric bill!
    • Turn your thermostat down 2° in the winter and up 2° in the summer. Check out the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy for more energy saving tips!
    • Unplug electronics from the wall when you are not using them. Even when turned off appliances like hairdryers, cell phone chargers and TVs use energy!

Raise your voice — Join the Stop Global Warning March, a non-political effort bringing Americans together to declare that global warming is here now and it’s time to act.

Editor’s Note: The following is part of a series entitled “Common Concern Reruns”, where I will re-post a host of material from the previous iteration of Our Common Concern on blogspot. Unfortunately, many of these issues are as pressing in 2008 as they were in 2007 — so please do read them through, share your thoughts, and get involved. A special thanks to all of the guest bloggers who made these posts possible.

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An Update on Body Image

(Originally published March 4, 2007)

And now, Monica Mangual’s mid-week post on Body Image. Thank you to Monica and to everyone who’s helped address this concern!

Not only do many individuals suffer with explicit eating disorders, others struggle with body dissatisfaction and sub-clinical disordered eating attitudes and behaviors. For example, it has been shown that 80% of American women are dissatisfied with their appearance. However, because there is a stigma regarding eating disorders, many individuals – especially male– live in silence about their lifestyle.

Learn More:

  • 46% of 9-11 year-olds are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets, and 82% of their families are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets
  • 91% of women recently surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting, 22% dieted “often” or “always”
  • 95% of all dieters will regain their lost weight in 1-5 years
  • 35% of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting. Of those, 20-25% progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders
  • 25% of American men and 45% of American women are on a diet on any given day
  • Americans spend over $40 billion on dieting and diet-related products each year


Take Action:

Eat when you are hungry
Rest when you are tired.
– Surround yourself with people that
remind you of your inner strength and beauty

And be sure to visit the website of National Eating Disorders Awareness (NEDA)

Editor’s Note: The following is part of an ongoing series entitled “Common Concern Reruns”, where I will re-post a host of material from the previous iteration of Our Common Concern on blogspot. Unfortunately, many of these issues are as pressing in 2008 as they were in 2007 — so please do read them through, share your thoughts, and get involved. A special thanks to all of the guest bloggers who made these posts possible.

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Our Eighth Concern: Body Image

(Originally published March 1, 2007)

For Our Eighth Concern, guest blogger Monica Mangual addresses a topic that has probably touched all of our lives at one point or another: Body Image. She’s a family counselor who’s no amateur on the issue, so be sure to take action on her post and look for an update this Sunday, March 4.


As someone who’s felt the unnecessary and sometimes overwhelming pressure of society to look a certain way and be a certain weight, I have always considered myself an advocate for a healthy body, male or female. Although I’ve never struggled with an eating disorder, I have fallen into the traps of fad dieting, over-exercising, and basing my worth as a person by the numbers on a scale. This week, February 25 through March 3, 2007 is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. In the United States, as many as 10 million females and 1 million males are fighting a life and death battle with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. Millions more are struggling with a binge eating disorder.


The most important thing you can do if you have a friend who is suffering from an eating disorder is address it with them! Remind them that you are there to talk and to offer support in any way you can, without judgment and without criticism.

Below are some statistics I’ve found regarding America’s dieting and drive for thinness:

  • Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives
  • Girls who diet frequently are 12 times as likely to binge as girls who don’t diet
  • 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner
  • 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat
  • The average American woman is 5’4” tall and weighs 140 pounds. The average American model is 5’11” tall and weighs 117 pounds.
  • Most fashion models are thinner than 98% of American women
  • And more to come later in the week…

This week, let’s make an effort to celebrate our bodies!! What can we do to do this?

Make a list of all the things your body can do – read this and add to it often!

*Wear clothes that are comfortable and fit your body – throw out those jeans that are restricting and uncomfortable.

*Make a list of all the people that you admire and whether their appearance is important in their success.

*Keep a list of ten positive things about yourself that has nothing to do with appearance – repeat these and add to them regularly!

*And more later to come later in the week… post your suggestions today!


Finally, Visit the National Eating Disorders Awareness website (NEDA) to discover ways to celebrate your body and create positive body image. This site has tons of information regarding various eating disorders and what we can do to prevent and help them. Also, be sure to sign the “No Weigh! A Declaration of Independence From a Weight-Obsessed World”.

And post your suggestions today on how we can all create a world more supportive of who we are and how we look!

Editor’s Note: The following is part of a series entitled “Common Concern Reruns”, where I will re-post a host of material from the previous iteration of Our Common Concern on blogspot. Unfortunately, many of these issues are as pressing in 2008 as they were in 2007 — so please do read them through, share your thoughts, and get involved. A special thanks to all of the guest bloggers who made these posts possible.

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Our Seventh Concern: Tibetan Refugee Crisis

(Originally published February 19, 2007)

We’re back this week with yet another great guest blog, this time from Vinita Kamath. Vinita is very knowledgeable on refugee issues, and she presents some very detailed and very helpful info. on the crisis in Tibet.

Be sure to read about Our Seventh Concern. Then post your comments and invite your friends to check it out as well!


The Tibetan refugee crisis has been an on-going human rights concern for many years, and recent reports of killing and torture by Chinese border control troops have been particularly disturbing. Between 2,500 and 3,000 Tibetans make the dangerous crossing by foot over the Himalayas into exile in Nepal and India each year, fleeing religious and political repression, as well as discriminatory educational and economic policies by the Chinese government. One-third of these refugees are children.

Last fall, Chinese troops opened fire at a group of Tibetan refugees, killing a 17-year-old nun. Other refugees, including children, were detained by these soldiers, and many were tortured while in detention.

Learn More:

1. International Campaign for Tibet

– an international organization that has been working on remedying human rights abuses in Tibet for the past 19 years. ICT’s 2001 report “Dangerous Crossing: Conditions Impacting the Flight of Tibetan Refugees” provides an in-depth and informative analysis of the refugee situation.

2. YouTube video showing Chinese soldiers attacking Tibetan refugees (warning: graphic images)

Take Action:

1. Students for a Free Tibet- Activist Center

– provides students with an “Activist Toolbox” which explains how to organize around this issue within your school

2. Race for Tibet Campaign- Beijing Olympics 2008

– sign a petition urging China to improve its human rights conditions and demanding integrity from China and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) before next year’s Olympics

– also, receive free advocacy tools (including ‘Race for Tibet’ stickers and post-cards) to help raise awareness in your community

3. Amnesty International Online Action Center

– sign and send a letter to various Chinese and Tibetan government actors condemning the shooting and torture of Tibetan refugees