Monthly Archives: February 2018

Information From Research to Action

How can we turn what we know about child development into tangible services and supports for the most vulnerable children?

We know that interactions with adults shape children’s neurological and behavioral development, and that long-term hardship can negate the core skills adults need to succeed as caregivers. We’re understanding more and more how these two concepts interact: A stable, supportive relationship with an adult can be the key to a child’s health and resilience, despite adversity; conversely, when a caregiver doesn’t have the capacity to provide that support, the child can face severe mental and physical consequences.

Now, a new report from the Center on the Developing Child (CDC) at Harvard University brings all this together to offer operational guidance for social workers, educators, and other caregivers — helping them use the science of child development as a framework for providing the support and services children need in the moment and the tools for continued success.


The report makes three broad recommendations for child welfare systems: that they work to reduce external sources of stress for clients and workers alike, strengthen the core life skills of children and adults, and help develop responsive relationships.

Reduce Stress

Stress is a “defining feature” for those involved in child welfare systems. Circumstances that necessitate assistance — poverty, neglect, abuse — are by nature stressful, and they often go hand in hand with other stressors, such as systemic racism, uncertain immigration status, unaccepted sexual orientation, and mental health problems. Just dealing with child welfare, with its threat of breaking up families, is stressful. Over time, a build-up of such toxic stress can compromise executive function and self-regulation skills for both children and adults.

To help reduce stress for children and families, child welfare systems can:

  • Work with other services to ensure that basic needs, such as housing, food, and household supplies, are met.
  • Streamline processes, coordinate services, provide routine reminders, and reduce the frequency through which services need to be authorized.
  • Provide well-regulated environments that build a sense of calm and control. For example, social workers can present clear options, timelines for services, and rubrics for success.
  • Support front-line staff, whose work requires them to be observant, attentive, and action-oriented in highly stressful situations. Create a work environment that ensures manageable caseloads, easy access to supplies, and regular opportunities to relieve stress.

Strengthen Core Life Skills

Along with reducing the factors that can inhibit executive function and self-regulation skills, child welfare services can intentionally develop core life skills, like the ability to plan ahead, manage appropriate responses, and adjust to changes. These skills are what children and families need to make responsible decisions.

To help strengthen core life skills, child welfare systems can:

  • Prioritize approaches that focus on skill-building. For instance, rather than asking parents to comply with requests, ask what they hope to gain from a specific program, or how they can transfer new skills to other areas.
  • Use approaches that explicitly target executive function and self-regulation skills. For instance, teach children and adults to refocus their attention away from negative surroundings, or to recognize and interrupt unplanned responses.
  • Support skill-building in areas other than parenting, such as employment training. Strong core skills in any area can still assist adults in providing and caring for their children.
  • Provide services with clear, explicit, incremental steps, and offer consistent feedback. For children and adults, following these plans can help develop executive function skills and can afford frequent opportunities for success, which reinforces positive habits.
  • Consider using “coaching models,” which explore a person’s goals and motivations and helps them build the mindset to sustain behavioral changes and remain hopeful.

Develop Responsive Relationships

Healthy relationships are key to success. For children, they help stimulate brain development and serve as protection from toxic experiences; for adults, they provide the emotional and practical support needed to navigate challenging situations.

To build and support strong responsive relationships, child welfare systems can:

  • Provide trainings and suggestions for parents to develop positive caregiving skills.
  • Identify clients’ existing important relationships, and leverage those to create future successes.
  • Strive to minimize the number of placements children experience in foster care. When a child’s placement does change, try to sustain important relationships, whether it’s between a child and foster or birth parent or between siblings.
  • Whenever feasible, promote positive relationships between foster and birth parents. These connections are often tenuous, but constructive partnerships can offer the stable caregiving that children need.
  • Select caseworkers and educators who will treat clients respectfully. Offer professional development on managing race and class differences, and model positive interactions in the workplace.

Important Investing and Earning While in Grad School

From astronomy to zoology, the fields of study pursued by graduate students are very different. But today’s diverse students all share at least one thing in common: They will eventually complete their degrees; enter the “real world;” and have to support themselves — a daunting prospect for many. But you don’t have to wait until graduation to start thinking about your financial future thanks to a new program aimed at increasing financial literacy in academia. Here’s a closer look.

Money Woes Abound

Approximately 60 percent of master’s students and 55 percent of PhD students report feeling stressed about finances, according to joint research from The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) and financial services provider TIAA.

These fears aren’t exactly unfounded given the staggering cost of student loans and further data revealing that the majority of graduate students report that they have no financial education. Factor in that financial literacy has been linked with everything from increasing degree completion rates to promoting diversity on college campuses, and the need for corrective action becomes even clearer.

Amping up Educational Opportunities

In response, CGS and TIAA have joined force to launch theEnhancing Student Financial Education Program. Through this initiative, 34 US universities are currently developing financial education programs for graduate students, according to news from Financial Advisor.

Demand is high for this type of programming according to CGA and TIAA findings, with students expressing the desire to learn more about a comprehensive range of financial topics — from how to select employee benefits to planning for retirement.

But even if your university doesn’t yet offer a financial literacy program, options for raising your financial knowledge abound — starting with GradSense, a free, interactive, financial planning program for graduate students. The overall takeaway? For students who take advantage of these and other resources, worries about meeting monthly expenses — let alone saving for the future — don’t have to be part of the graduate school experience.

Build on Your Bachelor’s with For an International Master’s Degree

You Can Improve Your Career Opportunities

Do your research.  If your prospective master’s degree is tied to a specific type of job that you want, then you’ll definitely have a broader reach of opportunity.  Consider occupational therapy, in which a master’s degree is the key to success, or business management, where that MBA will certainly give you a competitive edge.  Public school teachers will experience almost immediate benefits with a master’s.  In some fields, where a master’s is a terminal degree, such as an M.F.A., you’ll be able to teach at the university level.  Clinical psychology is another great example of pursuing a master’s in a specific field so that you can do the job you want.

You Can Earn a Better Salary

A graduate degree doesn’t always mean extra money, but in some fields, it’s the only way to make more of it.  If you choose to study medicine or law, of course, you’ll need an advanced degree, but those of you who have your bachelor’s and are contemplating the endeavor?  You can plan on making at least $400,000 more over your working lifetime with a graduate degree.  Teaching is one profession for which you’ll automatically get paid more. Graphic design, marketing, finance, and therapy are other fields in which you’ll definitely see a better salary—and more professional marketability – with a master’s degree.

It’s a Chance to Do Your Research at a Respected University

When considering an international master’s degree, it is important to choose the right university. When it comes to research and graduate studies, location isn’t everything but it can help. After all, you can’t spend all your time in a lab or behind a book. Consider Helsinki, Finland, where you’ll find a safe, green city surrounded by stunning natural beauty and a vibrant student scene alongside one of the world’s top research universities: the University of Helsinki.  You’ll earn a world-class education at one of Europe’s leading research institutions, and a major international reputation.  With over half a million friendly faces, a vibrant urban atmosphere, and 60,000 students from around the globe, Helsinki is a perfect place to pursue that master’s degree and immerse yourself in a culture of motivated, inspirational, and brilliant people.  Did we mention the saunas and omenalörtsy?

You Can Build on Your Undergraduate Studies…or Explore Something New

Whether you want to expand on your undergraduate degree or move into a different, but related graduate program, consider the University of Helsinki. The university offers 28 master’s programs in English with a wide range of possibilities. Not sure where to start? These six programs build on many common undergraduate majors, offering something for nearly everyone.

1. Master in Environmental Change and Global Sustainability

If your undergraduate degree is related to environmental science or sustainability studies, select a master’s and focus on issues sustainability that interest you. Solve socio-ecological problems that affect you and the world around you.  Jobs in policy, education, advocacy, and science await!

2. Master in Food Science

If you have a bachelor’s in food science or the molecular biosciences and you want to reshape how the world views food—from agriculture to processing to innovation and policy—consider a Master’s degree in Food Science at the University of Helsinki, one of the highest ranked food science programs in the world.

3. Master in Microbiology and Microbial Biotechnology

With antibiotic drug resistance and superbugs at the forefront of global concern, a Master’s degree in Microbiology and Microbial Biotechnology will help to ensure your role in preventing the destruction of the human race through microbes.  Cutting-edge research and technology, and the opportunity to have a lasting effect on the world’s future make this master’s program an ace in your pocket.

4. Master of Life Science and Informatics

Earn a master’s in one of the University of Helsinki’s leading research programs: Life Sciences and Informatics.  Combine mathematics, computer science, statistics, ecology, evolutionary biology, and genetics—and you’re guaranteed to find a job as an expert in life science research for either the public or private sector.  This degree also puts you at a significant advantage to earn your doctorate in chosen field of study.

5. Master in Particle Physics and Astrophysical Sciences

Enjoy the secrets of the world with a master’s degree Particle Physics and Astrophysical Sciences. You will enjoy a career in research, or an infinite range of possibilities in the private sector.  If you studied mathematics, physics, engineering, or astronomy as an undergraduate, consider unlocking the secrets of the cosmos with an advanced degree in Particle Physics and Astrophysical Sciences.

6. Master in Linguistic Diversity in the Digital Age

Language: the key to the past, present, and future of communication. Dialect.  Accent. Linguistic scope.  Orthography.  Indigenous language.  Synthesized language.  Human speech.  Music.  Binary code.  Did you study a specific language as an undergraduate?  Or maybe anthropology, semantics, communication, linguistic theory?  Do you want to make an impact on the connection between language and cognition?  Are you curious about the ways language grows, evolves, becomes part of a culture?  Thinking about advanced study in language?  Consider the University of Helsinki’s Master in Linguistic Diversity in the Digital Age.

Graduate degrees aren’t the answer to everything, but with more jobs and career paths requiring post-graduate specialization pursuing a master’s degree is becoming increasingly popular. Combining your graduate degree with an international experience may be just the boost you need to make the most of your career potential. And an international master’s degree from Finland’s University of Helsinki is the perfect combination. Helsinki offers students access to superb education, a diverse student body, a wide array of study options, and a stunning country.  Onnea!

Info For You Honoring the Impact of Philosophers on World Philosophy Day

While philosophers are often written off as dreamy-eyed daydreamers, the truth is that their work has very real impact: It helps us make sense of the world we live in while working toward a better one. We can think of no better occasion to celebrate the value of this field than with the celebration of World Philosophy Day. Let’s take a closer look at this annual observation, along with highlighting a few philosophers who have had a profound influence on the world as we know it across a variety of different disciplines.

Why Does Philosophy Matter?

Why is philosophy so important that UNESCO designated this discipline with its very own day?  UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova explains, “Faced with the complexity of today’s world, philosophical reflection is above all a call to humility, to take a step back and engage in reasoned dialogue, to build together the solutions to challenges that are beyond our control. This is the best way to educate enlightened citizens, equipped to fight stupidity and prejudice. The greater the difficulties encountered the greater the need for philosophy to make sense of questions of peace and sustainable development.”

While we often think of philosophy as theoretical in nature, it not only has practical applications, but multidisciplinary ones.

Seven Influential Philosophers Across the Disciplines

Still think the musings of philosophers are more ethereal than earthly? Read on for a roundup of philosophers whose work directly shaped understanding in a particular field or area of study.

1. Michel Foucault

While largely regarded as a historian and philosopher, Foucault is also well known for his contributions the social sciences — particularly for his ideas about the link between knowledge, power and social control. His work has enlightening applications across a number of topics, ranging from socio-legal studies and the sociology of race to feminist and political theory.

2. Michel de Montaigne

While more of a statesman in his time, de Montaigne is now heralded as an author whose intellectually heady essay directly influenced writers from all over the world, including Descartes, Bacon, Pascal, Rousseau, Emerson, Nietzsche, Asimov and even Shakespeare. He’s also credited with the acceptance of the essay as a literary genre in its own right. His ideas about psychology — particularly as related to education, fear, motivation, happiness, and thought — also had a significant impact on psychology.

3. Saul Kripke

According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, this American logician and philosopher seminal publication, Naming and Necessity, forever altered analytical philosophy by providing “the first cogent account of necessity and possibility as metaphysical concepts” as well as in distinguishing “both concepts from the epistemological notions of a posteriori knowledge and a priori knowledge (knowledge acquired through experience and knowledge independent of experience, respectively) and from the linguistic notions of analytic truth and synthetic truth, or truth by virtue of meaning and truth by virtue of fact.”

Kripke’s work yielded fascinating new insights into language and linguistic meaning — particularly pertaining to common nouns and proper names.

4. Robert M. Pirsig

While we often think of philosophy as primarily in the domain of the humanities and social sciences, Pirsig is recognized for his contributions to science and technology. Best known for his cult favorite autobiographical novel, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (ZAMM), Pirsig’s work addressed distinctly 20th-century questions related to what defines good and what defines bad — in other words, “the metaphysics of quality.”

5. Galen

A prominent physician, surgeon and philosopher during the Roman Empire, Galen, AKA Aelius Galenus, Claudius Galenus and Galen of Pergamon,  is credited with having influenced the development of a number of different scientific disciplines in addition to philosophy and logic, including physiology, pathology, anatomy, pharmacology, and neurology. He saw himself neither as physician nor philosopher but as both, as evidenced by his famous treatise, That the Best Physician is Also a Philosopher.

6. René Descartes

No mention of the intersection of medicine and philosophy is complete without mention of Descarte, whose attempts to recognize the body and the soul. The contemporary concept of brain-stem death can be traced back to this French philosopher and mathematician work. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, “Descartes succeeded in eliminating the soul’s general physiological role altogether and in circumscribing its cognitive role to the human species. Descartes’s writings about death show that his concept of the soul clearly implied both mind and the immaterial principle of immortality.”

7. Plato

While Plato’s work was significant across areas from ethics and epistemology to metaphysics and aesthetics, law was a constant theme. In fact, his work remains today as the “foundation of political theory and jurisprudence.” Because of this, his The Republic is largely regarded as required reading for any student considering law studies.

But these are just a small fraction of the many philosophers who for millennia have not only asked big questions and tried to solve them, but also applied them across the disciplines to expand, enrich and improve our collective understanding of the world.