I was a history major, so the past week@work included an inordinate amount of time spent in the company of various traditional and social media portals, monitoring the results of the Brexit vote and its aftermath.
In between, there were intervals of soccer, viewing both Copa America and Euro 2016. There was also art in Christo’s installation in Lake Iseo, Italy and reflected brilliance in the photography of Bill Cunningham, who died this weekend. Goldman Sachs announced a new campus recruiting strategy (good news for history majors), and a journalist asked if education is preparing students adequately for a jobless future.
On Thursday evening I watched part of CNN International’s ‘Brexit’ election coverage, which included an animated discussion between anchor Christiane Amanpour and historian Simon Schama. As it became clear that ‘Leave’ was overtaking ‘Remain’ in the vote count, Schama cited the referendum results as one more example of “a world phenomenon of tribal nationalism”.
The historian has been actively engaged on Twitter and in an interview with NPR’s Robert Siegel described the vote as “a turning point for Great Britain”.
Here’s a sample of the conversation:
SIEGEL:” Culturally, there is a generation of educated young Europeans – and I include Brits in that – who think of themselves at some level as being European. Maybe it’s not their only identity. Do you think that goes away in Britain and does a different identity take shape, or do those people grow up and change in this country?”
SCHAMA: “No, I think they’re in distress. I mean, I’m sure you’ve said, it’s very striking that the 18 to 24s voted something like 75 percent to stay in. And I suppose it depends where you are in London. We have more immigrants than anywhere else, and we’re least bothered by it. And I think when the shock subsides a bit, the young may well fight to be at least as European as they’ve been led to believe they are. That’s my hope, actually.”
SIEGEL: “If you can imagine a historian 50 years hence writing the sentence that will sum up what happened on this day, what do you think it’ll be?”
SCHAMA:” The greatest act of unforced national self-harm yet known in modern history.”
It’s always helpful to have a historian in the house. And it’s stunning to realize the generational split in voting: “Among 18-24-year-olds, the age category that’s going to have to live with the consequences of this vote for all of their working lives, 75 percent voted to stay.”
As to #Regrexit, writer and comedian, John Oliver reminded his countrymen, “there are no f______do-overs”.
In 2004 journalist Franklin Foer wrote ‘How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization’. Seemed like a good read to revisit after Brexit and an opportunity for a diversion while following Copa America and Euro 2016. The book treats soccer stories as globalization case studies. And I think we could use some ‘best practices’ right about now.
Full disclosure, I am rooting for the Welsh National Football Team as they face Belgium on Friday. My favorite work/life balance photo of the week – Wales’ Gareth Bale and daughter after the team advanced to the Euro 2016 quarter finals.
Art is another outlet for expression in chaos and ambiguity. A new Christo work debuted last week. The Guardian reported on the popularity of the ‘Floating Piers’ in Lake Iseo in northern Italy.
“A giant floating walkway made out of fabric on an Italian lake has had to be closed at night after tens of thousands of visitors began to wear it out.
The 1.9-mile (3km) walkway of 200,000 floating cubes covered in orange fabric was created by artist Christo and has proved a major attraction since it opened on Saturday on Lake Iseo.
However, 270,000 visitors have flocked to see the free installation – called “the Floating Piers” – in less than five days, far exceeding organisers’ expectations of about 500,000 over 16 days.”
On Saturday, The New York Times chronicled the career of one of their ‘house icons’, photographer Bill Cunningham.
“Mr. Cunningham was such a singular presence in the city that, in 2009, he was designated a living landmark. And he was an easy one to spot, riding his bicycle through Midtown, where he did most of his field work: his bony-thin frame draped in his utilitarian blue French worker’s jacket, khaki pants and black sneakers (he himself was no one’s idea of a fashion plate), with his 35-millimeter camera slung around his neck, ever at the ready for the next fashion statement to come around the corner.
Nothing escaped his notice: not the fanny packs, not the Birkin bags, not the gingham shirts, not the fluorescent biker shorts.
In his nearly 40 years working for The Times, Mr. Cunningham snapped away at changing dress habits to chart the broader shift away from formality and toward something more diffuse and individualistic.”
Two stories about the transition from school to work round out this week@work.
On Friday, bbc.com reported “Goldman Sachs is scrapping face-to-face interviews on university campuses in a bid to attract a wider range of talent.
The US investment bank will switch to video interviews with first-round undergraduate candidates from next month.
“Edith Cooper, Goldman’s global head of human capital management said: “We want to hire not just the economics or business undergraduate but there is that pure liberal arts or “history major that could be the next Lloyd Blankfein.”
Mr Blankfein, the bank’s chief executive, went to Harvard, one of America’s elite Ivy League universities, where he studied history.”
On Tuesday, Washington Post contributor, Jeffrey J. Selingo asked ‘Are colleges preparing students for the workforce?’
“While students are often encouraged to major in job-ready fields like STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), graduates of those programs are unlikely to find employment without solid grounding in the liberal arts and experiences outside the classroom to build their soft skills.
In the future work world, it’s critical that new graduates stay one step ahead of technology and focus more on what computers can’t yet do well: show creativity, have judgment, play well with others, and navigate ambiguity.”
It was a good week to be a history major.