A running history of Patriot’s Day

Long-time Extension School instructor and alumnus Robert J. Allison, ALB ’87, PhD ’92, professor and chair of history at Suffolk University, shares a swift history on the origins and evolution of Patriot’s Day in Massachusetts. For those who prefer the audio-video version to the text below, Allison delivers his short, 7-minute history lesson here

As it was in the beginning

The Puritans left behind two holidays. They set aside a day in the fall to give thanks to God for the blessings of the year and for not exercising his judgment on them. They set aside a day in the spring for fasting and prayer, imploring God’s aid in the coming year, atoning for their sins, and imploring God not to exercise his judgment on them.

Both holidays persisted well into the nineteenth century as Thanksgiving, in November, and Fast Day, in April, became part of the official calendar. Thanksgiving was given a considerable boost during the Civil War when President Lincoln revived the custom, which Presidents Washington and Adams had begun, of proclaiming a national day of Thanksgiving. After the war, the national day of Thanksgiving became a time to spend with family and to give thanks for the blessings of life.

Fast Day, always in April, had a tougher time in a more secular age. We prefer counting our blessings to reflecting on our sins. By the 1880s, Massachusetts citizens were not spending Fast Day reflecting on their sins, but were spending what was often the first nice day of the year as a holiday—not a holy day—outdoors, with boat and  bicycle races, and a noticeable amount of public drinking. Something needed to be done. (more…)

April 16, 2012. Tags: , , , , , . Faculty, Holiday, In the news. Leave a comment.

A strategic approach to managing yourself and others

By Margaret Andrews, director of the Extension School Management Graduate Program and instructor of the August professional development program Managing Yourself and Leading Others.

Albert Einstein, mansionwb on Flickr

Albert Einstein once said, “Politics is more difficult than physics.” The same might be said of the practice of management.

Managing others may not be complex, but it is certainly not easy. What often appear to be simple, straightforward principles can be deceptively difficult to implement.

Managing yourself and others is a dynamic process—one in which the players, and sometimes the rules, are always changing. However, you can approach it strategically. (more…)

March 21, 2012. Faculty, Professional development, Uncategorized. 1 comment.

It’s the end of the world as we know it

Post by Kate N.

Movies have been made and books have been written about the apocalypse, and the subject has become even more intriguing as the date of the supposed end of the world, December 21, 2012, approaches.

With this in mind, the course Apocalypse Now: How the Worlds Ends (or Doesn’t) in World Religions is bringing Dr. Anthony Aveni to speak on the topic March 8 (open to the public). An expert in the astronomical history of the Aztec and Maya Indians of ancient Mexico, Aveni will lecture about the many theories swirling around the “upcoming” doomsday.

David Carrasco, the professor of the course, shares details about the upcoming talk and what the audience can expect from this award-winning guest lecturer. (more…)

March 6, 2012. Tags: , , , , , . Faculty, Hot topic. Leave a comment.

American presidents share these key leadership qualities

Q&A with instructor John Paul Rollert

John Paul Rollert on presidential leadership qualities

John Paul Rollert

For President’s Day in an election year, we at the Spark blog thought it apropos to consider which leadership qualities are key to being president. We reached out to John Paul Rollert, a Harvard Extension School instructor and a doctoral student at the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago.

Rollert, who teaches Principles and Lessons on Leadership, says that the key to presidential leadership is the ability to define the problems that need to be addressed.


February 20, 2012. Tags: , , . Faculty, Hot topic, In the news. 1 comment.

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