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Trump has brought us to our “Hitler Moment.” It is time to take a stand.

Trump has brought us to our “Hitler Moment.” It is time to take a stand.
A Proposal for Our Next Global Manifestation -- April 22-29 With hosts of others, I was in Washington for the Inauguration and Women's March. I believe we were all deeply transformed. The energy was catalytic. It felt historic, an occasion that was going to change things decisively. There was deep intention in the air. It is telling that the numbe...
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A CALL TO ACTION

A CALL TO ACTION
​We, the undersigned Citizens of the United States and Citizens of the World, stand with Congressman John Lewis and numerous others in refusing to accept the legitimacy of Donald Trump as President of the United States. We join together to make the following common statement and commitment:• Whereas an intelligence report, jointly released on Janua...
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Ubiquity: Live local - Learn global, or Reinventing Education

Ubiquity:
Live local - Learn global, or
Reinventing Education
An exclusive Interview of Professor Jim GARRISON, Ph.D., Founder & President of Ubiquity University, by Oliver T. ERNST, Associate Editor, Point de Mire In November 2014, Harvard Business Review published an article called "What Airbnb, Uber and Ali-baba Have in Common". They described the three of them as Network Orchestrators: "These comp...
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Trump and the Rise of Disruptive Politics

Trump and the Rise of Disruptive Politics
My first reaction to Trump's election was shock. I felt numb, and it took a week or so for me to internalize that the man I thought would not and could not ever win is in fact the new president of the United States of America. One can thus only be tentative in trying to understand what just happened, let alone what is now in store for America and t...
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Muhammad was a Feminist II: Deepening the Dialogue

Muhammad was a Feminist II: Deepening the Dialogue
Jim Garrison (President of Ubiquity University) and Banafsheh Sayyad (author Dance of Oneness)We want to thank everyone for sharing their perspectives. In writing the oped, we were aware that we were entering a domain of high voltage in the current inter-religious and inter-cultural debate. Few topics in the world are so inflamed and...
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Muhammad Was A Feminist

Muhammad Was A Feminist
The prophet Muhammad would be appalled by how current Islamic Fundamentalists are treating women under their control. This suppression is done in the name of Islamic Law, known as Sharia. But the current suppression of women is shaped by cultural and history. It has little basis in the Quran and it is certainly not consistent with anything we know about what Muhammad taught or how he treated women. Of all the founders of the great religions - Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Islam and Judaism — Muhammad was easily the most radical and empowering in his treatment of women. Arguably he was history’s first feminist.
 
This is of critical importance because if there is one single thing that Arabs and Muslims could do to reform and re-vitalize their crisis ridden cultures, it would be to liberate their women and provide them with the full rights women are enjoying in more and more countries around the world. Women’s equality is key to a real Arab Spring.
 
Among the founders of the great religions, Confucius barely mentioned women at all and assumed in all his teachings that they we subordinate to men within a patriarchal order. Buddha taught that women could become enlightened but had to be pressured three times before allowing women to become nuns, and then only on the condition, as he put it, that the highest nun would be lower than the lowest monk. In the Gospel accounts, Jesus did not explicitly comment on the status of women, although he did associate with women of ill repute and with non Jewish women. Moses was thoroughly patriarchal and there is virtually nothing in the Torah that indicates specific concern about women’s rights.
 
Muhammad was fundamentally different. He both explicitly taught the radical equality of women and men as a fundamental tenet of true spirituality, and he took numerous concrete measures to profoundly improve the status and role of women in Arabia during his own lifetime. Muhammad was sensitized to the plight of women because he was born poor and orphaned at a very early age. He was also illiterate. He knew as few did what poverty and social exclusion meant. 
 
Confucius was born into the gentry scholar class of ancient China. Buddha was born a wealthy prince in Nepal. Jesus was born the son of a carpenter with royal lineage and within a tightly knit Jewish community in Palestine. Moses was born into a Hebrew family and raised in the palace of the Pharaoh of Egypt. Muhammad had none of these advantages. Thus while other religious leaders seemed strangely silent about the oppression of women, Muhammad dramatically raised the status of women as a matter of religious conviction and state policy. Consider the following:
 
During seventh century Arabia, female infanticide was commonplace. Muhammad abolished it. A saying in the Hadith (the collection of sayings of Muhammad) records that Muhammad said that the birth of a girl was a “blessing.” Women in Arabia at that time were essentially considered property and had absolutely no civil rights. Muhammad gave them the right to own property and they were extended very important marital and inheritance rights. 
 
Prior to Muhammad, the dowry paid by a man for his bride was given to her father as part of the contract between the two men. Women had no say in the matter. Muhammad declared that women needed to assent to the marriage and that the dowry should go to the bride, not the father; furthermore, she could keep the dowry even after marriage. The wife did not have to use the dowry for family expenses. That was the responsibility of the man. Women were also given the right to divorce their husbands, something unprecedented at that time. In a divorce, the woman was empowered to take the dowry with her.
 
Women were extended inheritance rights as well. They were only given half as much as their brothers because the men had more financial responsibilities for family expenses, but with Muhammad, women became inheritors of property and family assets for the first time in Arabia. At the time, this was considered revolutionary.
 
Muhammad himself was often seen doing “women’s work” around the house and was very attentive to his family. His first marriage to Khadija was monogamous for the entire 15 years they were married, something rare in Arabia at that time. By all accounts, they were deeply in love and Khadija in fact was the first convert to Islam. She encouraged Muhammad from his very first encounter with the angel Gabriel and the recitation of the first suras that were to become the Quran.
 
After Khadija’s death, Muhammad married 12 wives. One was Aisha, the daughter of his closest friend and ally Abu Baker. The rest were nearly all widows, divorced women, or captives. He preached consistently that it was the responsibility of men to protect those women who had met with misfortune. This was one of the reasons polygamy was encouraged. Even with female infanticide, women in seventh century Arabia far outnumbered men because so many men were killed in the inter-tribal warfare of the day. Several of Muhammad’s wives were poor and destitute and he took them in, along with their children, into his household. 
 
In his Farewell Sermon delivered shortly before he died in 632, Muhammad said to the men, “You have certain rights over women but they have certain rights over you.” Women, he said, are your “partners and helpers.” In one of the sayings of the Hadith, Muhammad says, “The best men are those who are best to their wives.”
 
His wife Aisha took a leadership role after his death in bringing together the Hadith and another wife played a leading role in gathering together the suras that comprise the Quran. Each of the 114 suras that comprise the Quran with the exception of sura 9 begin with the words Bismillah al Rahman al Rahim. Translated most commonly as “In the Name of God, all compassionate, all merciful,” the deeper meaning of this phrase is “In the Name of the One who births compassion and mercy from the womb.” This invocation of the feminine aspect of Allah is key to an Islamic Renaissance.
 
Finally, there is nothing in the Quran about women wearing the veil, the Hejab. That was certainly the custom in Arabia at that time and Muhammad’s wives wore the Hejab to designate their special status as “Mothers of the Believers,” but the only thing the Quran says directly is that women should dress “modestly.” Muhammad said the same thing to men. For him, modesty of dress was expressive of modesty of the heart. Muhammad himself, even when he was supreme leader, never wore anything more than simple white woolen attire.
 
So radical were Muhammad’s reforms that the status of women in Arabia and early Islam was higher than any other society in the world at that time. Women in 7th century Arabia had rights not extended to most women in the West till recent centuries over 1,000 years later. The fact that women have ended up in such a degraded position in many contemporary Arab/Muslim counties is a tragedy and needs to be rectified if the Islamic culture and civilization is to flourish again as it did during the Abbasid Caliphate from the 8th - 13th centuries when Islamic civilization was a shining light to the world. Liberating women would have profound effects politically, economically, culturally, artistically, and religiously. It would take the Arab Spring to a whole new level, which is what is so desperately needed in those countries that suffered the first Arab Spring as a stillbirth.
 
It is time for Islam to liberate women fully and do so upon the example of Muhammad and the authority of the Quran that holds compassion and mercy as the first and foremost attributes of Allah.
 
Written with Banafsheh Sayyad, author, Dance of Oneness 
 
 
 
 
 
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What would an “Airbnb of Education” Look Like?

What would an “Airbnb of Education” Look Like?

In an article in the Nov. 2014 Harvard Business Review, the question was asked what Alibaba, AirBnB and Uber have in common. The answer provided by authors Barry Libert, Jerry Wind and Megan Beck was that they were all “network orchestrators,” a new trend in business that is breaking up old paradigms, experiencing accelerated growth, generating enormous profits, and attracting major investment.

The authors studied the last 40 years of financial data from the S&P 500 and divided the companies into four groups:

Asset Builders – companies that build physical assets such as Ford, Walmart and FedEx.

Service Providers – companies providing services to customers such as United Health care, Accenture or JP Morgan.

* Technology Creators – companies that develop and sell intellectual property such as Microsoft, Apple, or Oracle.

  Network Orchestrators -- companies that create a network of peers in which participants interact and share in value creation such as Alibaba, Airbnb and Uber.

In comparing these four categories of companies, the article found that Network Orchestrators receive valuations two to four times higher, on average, than the other categories and outperform the other categories in terms of annual growth rate and profit margin. Yet fewer than 5% of all the companies in the S&P 500 were network orchestrators, mainly because the mentality that pervades business is to own assets and sell goods.

Network orchestrators, however, rely on knowledge and relationships rather than assets and property. They emphasize synergies between individuals and organizations and thus engage in “non management” and “non ownership” between peers, each of whom may own assets and properties but the focus is on synergies between partners rather than owning everything in the chain of exchange.

Airbnb, for example, has significantly disrupted the hotel industry by understanding that every home is a potential “hotel.” While traditional hotel chains have focused on owning properties and developing fixed assets, Airbnb does not own anything. It simply puts owners of homes in touch with potential customers. The focus is on the relationship, not the asset. It now operates in 192 countries, has nearly 2 million home owners in the network and has serviced over 60 million people staying in those homes. Its valuation is north of $40 Billion.

Similarly, Uber has disrupted the taxi industry by understanding that every car is a potential “taxi.” While traditional taxi companies have focused on owning taxis, Uber has simply enabled customers to get directly in touch with car owners to take them where they want to go. Uber is now worldwide with a valuation north of $70 Billion. Both Airbnb and Uber have been challenged by traditional interests and governmental restrictions but they have established the model and are succeeding beyond the wildest dreams of their founders and initial investors.

These companies have significantly disrupted their industries by radically democratizing and globalizing synergies between vendors and customers. This has allowed them to scale globally without fixed assets. They have thus been immensely profitable.

The situation in the educational domain is positively archaic. Many institutions have been around for centuries, some for over a millennium. Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, the Sorbonne all exemplify the storied history and mystic of traditional educational institutions. All own property and assets. In almost all cases, existing educational institutions were founded in an age when education was framed by the needs of the industrial revolution for pliant workers equipped with minimal verbal and analytic skills. All are accredited by conservative bureaucracies resistant to change, all are nationally rooted and identified, and all are seriously challenged with the impact of technology on education. The educational equivalent to hotels and taxis are thus all the individual educational institutions competing against one another for students in crowded and increasingly expensive and complex markets.

The beginnings of the Network Orchestration model was developed by Laureate Education, which since 1999 has been building a global network of universities through acquisitions. Laureate has either complete or majority equity ownership in a network of 88 brick and mortar universities and colleges worldwide. Laureate has been very successful with this model and is headed into an IPO. While it has been creating synergies between its assets, its challenge is that it is encumbered with very significant real estate and operational costs in dozens of countries. Considering the fragility of the global economic system, such enormous capital costs are risky, requiring enormous time and attention to maintain. What is needed is a Laureate 2.0, the creation of a truly global network of synergies without ownership.

 

This is the challenge that the university of which I am president has taken up. Prior to 2012, we were like all the other schools -- locally rooted in California and licensed by the State agency as a graduate school. We competed for limited students from a specific base in San Francisco. We were bound by local restrictions and could not innovate without express permission of the state agencies.

In 2012, we transitioned from a nonprofit graduate school into a for profit education and technology platform company with a vision of establishing a global common exchange with educational networks and innovative learning companies worldwide. Instead of competing, Ubiquity began strategically collaborating and creating mutual profitability with dozens of partners globally.

The university began building a global network of partnerships with brick and mortar schools, so in that sense Ubiquity is like Laureate, but Ubiquity is doing so through synergies, not ownership. This means that Ubiquity gets all the benefits of the network as well as the revenues, but none of the local real estate and operational costs. To date, Ubiquity has agreements with educational networks with hundreds of schools and tens of thousands of students worldwide. Our partners secure students for Ubiquity and provide their own marketing and recruitment. Many want to use our technology platform for their own courses. 

 

Ubiquity is also developing collaborative synergies with innovative companies on the cutting edge of learning technology. Our goal is to develop a global multi-jurisdictional common exchange between educational institutions and innovative learning companies to bring high quality affordable learning to young people and life long learners worldwide. Our business model is as an integrated learning platform and alliance for educational establishments and innovative learning companies.  This is a significant advance over Laureate -- No ownership, all synergies, thus making Ubiquity very adaptive, scalable, and, potentially, immensely profitable.

 

There are certainly challenges to the network orchestrator model in education just as AirBnB and Uber have faced challenges in their domains. But the model is sound and the forces of globalization are making network orchestration inevitable.

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Forbes ran a cover story in November 2013 with the headline, “No field operates more inefficiently than education. And a new breed of disruptors are finally going to fix it.” They predicted that disruptive education will be the next $1 trillion opportunity, on a par with the dot.com boom of the 1990s. Education through network orchestration is the most disruptive trend in education today and the key to an enormous opportunity.

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Next Generation Learning

Next Generation Learning
The changing face of education. James Garrison, Founder and President of Ubiquity University.
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Reaping a whirlwind

Reaping a whirlwind

ISIS represents the first Intifada against the United States. We have treated Afghanistan and Iraq pretty much the way Israel has treated the West Bank and Gaza, and now, like Israel, we are reaping a whirlwind. Just when we thought we could slip away, ISIS is arising out of the ashes of our wars, demanding our attention. Knowing we can wipe them out with overwhelming force, they dare us to attack as they behead three of our young men – one American, one British, one French. We want to wipe them out, but ISIS represents something virtually unconquerable. They are willing to die, indeed expect to die, in the face of our overwhelming force, but they are going to die with their fists in the air doing as much damage as they can. This passion lies at the heart of Intifada.

To die in this way, especially for young men of military age, represents a very deeply embedded and powerful impulse in the male psyche, even if it can be distorted by ideology. But to focus on ISIS as some kind of brainwashing or manipulation of the uninformed is to miss the point and very reason why ISIS is so successful. ISIS is speaking to young men in particular, but also to young women, who are desperately seeking to give themselves to some cause larger than themselves, who have become deeply cynical about our governments, and, as a consequence, who want to join some kind of resistance. The testimony of this young Canadian man, now in Syria with ISIS, shows this mixture of idealism and defiance very powerfully: https://news.vice.com/video/islamic-state-member-warns-of-nyc-attack-in-exclusive-interview-the-canadian-jihadist

What is ominous is that while Israel’s Intifada is essentially local, ISIS is potentially global. Like the Spanish Civil War, ISIS has become a cause celebre among the young and they are flocking to join. Several thousand are reportedly already there, drawn from numerous western and Asian nations far beyond the conflict. What is ISIS telling them? Stay home, stay in your own country, wreck havoc from there. This puts ISIS potentially far beyond the capacities of Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda was essentially a shadowy and ultimately very small network of extended family, business, and political relations of Osama bin Laden. Brilliant and deadly, Al Qaeda was nevertheless a localized immediate network of no more than several hundred people, virtually all of whom were rooted in the Middle East.

ISIS represents what is now coming – a network of young idealists who are not there but here, who live amongst us, and see ISIS as their front line. They share ideology with ISIS but never leave home, thus potentially making ISIS a global rather than local network. This means that the next 9/11 might not necessarily come from Middle Eastern guerrillas slipping through our border under false pretenses and setting up the attack. It may well be one of our own citizens, one of our own neighbors, who will be launching the attack on behalf of ISIS but from behind enemy lines. ISIS signals global Intifada. Let us make no mistake. Like the Ebola virus, we potentially have a global contagion on our hands.

As we contemplate this, let us consider what we have sown in our comportment in that part of the world, initially since overthrowing Iranian democracy in 1952, and especially since Bush II in Afghanistan and Iraq. Like Israel with the Palestinians, the U.S. leaves in its wake a legacy of hatred and defiance. We misjudged when we entered and we misjudge as we leave. We thought we could judiciously withdraw. Instead, we have ignited a hornets nest, and the hornets are starting to fly about.

One can get a measure of the hatred and defiance involved in those young men and women fighting for ISIS, as well as the widespread support they enjoy, by considering how much both Israel and the U.S. have slaughtered excessive numbers of civilians in the region. With ISIS, the U.S. has suspended any restrictions on killing civilians in ISIS airstrikes. This may kill more of them, but it will not conquer them. It will only deepen their defiance. Beyond ISIS, U.S. drone policy doesn’t even require identifying who will be killed, and it accepts all collateral damage as simply part of the operation. We need to confront this because this is precisely how millions of people across the Middle East, especially in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, have come to experience and now expect from the United States. Abu Graib and Guantanamo stand as iconic indictments to our disastrous course. Now, with ISIS, we need to understand that what was a local phenomenon is now the beginnings of a global contagion and that this, rather than our vaunted democracy, may end up being our legacy from our wars there.

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