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Loving Living

Loving Living Landscapes

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Loving Living Landscapes

Written by: Ayodhya Ouditt        Updated: Jan, 2020      3 min read

Whether it’s a classic painting in a gallery, an oversaturated image on a calendar, or the view through one’s window on a drive or train ride, a landscape holds a powerful place in our mind’s eye.

Landscapes are popular items in art and photography, and while there’s tremendous diversity in terms of natural habitats on earth, we do seem to favour some over others. This doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the destitution of a desert of lava flow, but it does mean that I would probably not want to live there. Most people do seem to favour certain scenes based on very specific features.

In his book The Art Instinct, Denis Dutton expounds on these thoughts, building an extraordinary case for instinctive (genetically predetermined) aesthetic preferences. He opens the book with reference to the People’s Choice experiment, a global art project overseen by the Soviet Artists, Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid. It was a massive survey of viewer preferences of paintings, across 14 countries, that overwhelmingly showed striking similarities across cultures and continents.

“People in very different cultures across the world gravitate toward the same general type of pictorial representation: a landscape with trees and open areas, water, human figures, and animals. What’s more remarkable still was the fact that people across the globe preferred landscapes of a fairly uniform type…”

Loving Living

Of course, this would probably upset the avant-garde and postmodern sensibilities of many contemporary gallerists; landscapes are accused of being boring, philosophically unsophisticated, and even colonial in nature. But regardless of whether or not these accusations are fair, the fact remains that we love landscapes. As a species, there’s a good reason for this, the ongoing evolutionary explanation being that they represent idyllic environments for the survival of wild ancestral humans.

In a recent conversation with Dr. Stefan Uddenberg, a cognitive psychologist at Princeton University, he reflected on the findings of the People’s Choice project that “Our preferences for landscapes are quite likely baked into us, over the course of millions of years of evolution, from the Pleistocene. We love landscapes that are rich in resources that we can take advantage of… It makes sense — if you’ve got greenery you’ve got fruit. If you’ve got forests there’s going to be wild game that you can hunt. If you’ve got water there’s a huge plus there. These features are there because they provide a huge plus to our survivability.”

 
Loving Living

In this light, in the same way in which we might universally favour a smooth, rosy, untarnished mango over one which is discoloured, bruised, or green, we might favour images of these archetypal semi-wooded sceneries over dark forests or lava flows or glacial tundra, all of which we innately know might be too perilous or too extreme in heat or cold. Again, we can certainly appreciate the beauty of those places as well, but there’s a distinctly calm, almost idyllic feeling we get when we look at the right kind of landscape.

Loving Living - Asher B. Durand (1796-1886)

Asher B. Durand (1796-1886) View toward the Hudson Valley, 1851 Oil on canvas 33 1/8 x 48 1/8 in. (84.1 x 122.2 cm) The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund, 1948.119

The preponderance of direct neuroscientific evidence for the way that these pictures and sceneries affect our brains suggests that we are wired to find beauty in certain scenes and images, and to appreciate beauty on the whole. In his TED Talk “The Neurobiology of Beauty”, Semir Zeki, Professor of Neuroesthetics at University College London goes so far as to say that beauty “originates in the brain, not in the works of art.”

If beauty is so central to the human experience, and these pictures of semi-wooded grasslands can have some a universal effect on us, then what might actual landscapes and urban green-spaces do for us? The health benefits are well noted,

especially when considering depression and other mental health issues. It’s worth noting too that one of the things that makes prison so unbearable is its sterility and lack of landscape entirely. The denial of a window to the world, is not just social isolation, it’s scenic and sensory isolation as well.

In a place as biodiverse and naturally green as Trinidad and Tobago, we benefit from a tremendous range of ecosystem services, which if not abused and destroyed are largely unappreciated. In many parts of the country, green is seen as a handicap and a liability. But if we leverage this ecological bounty, beyond the level of agriculture or even habitat preservation, we might be able to tap into a national stress reduction reservoir, that could help insulate us from the stresses of modern urban life. At the level of preventative medicine then, if we make healthy, mindful use of parks, green yards, forest reserves, and beaches, they might help us fight cancer, diabetes, and suicide, just as well as any pill, prescription, or vaccine.

Update: Shortly after this article was posted, the National Health Service Shetland implemented “nature prescriptions” to help treat high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and other issues.

 
Thinking Slow

“Thinking Slow”About Fast Food

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“Thinking Slow”About Fast Food

Written by: Ayodhya Ouditt        Updated: Jan, 2020    3 min read

A friend of mine recently got some good news regarding a job and wanted to celebrate, so we went down to the strip of food stalls near Grand Bazaar for some street food and then later headed to a bar for a drink.

While I’m certainly not trying to come across as one of those people who complains about everything, it’s also a requirement that a designer be ready to exercise critical thinking at all times. In particular, if one’s concern is social good, and human, animal and environmental wellbeing, paying attention to one’s surroundings is vital.

So with that said it’s always disheartening to me when we go out to lime and I see parents feeding their children cheese-steaks and ‘hoagies’ drowned in sauces, and watering them with coke, pepsi, or some other soft drink. These all come in styrofoam boxes and plastic bottles, which (if one is lucky) are thrown into a bin, but far too often end up in a canal.

This is a bleak situation, for the animals consumed and the human consumers, as well as for the urban and natural environment. But we see this — and even participate in it — everyday, to the point of numbness.

As I heard the lady behind me call to the gyro man for “more mayonnaise” on her burger, I wondered… “What is the reason for this? Why did she feel like she needed more?”

While there are of course many different factors leading to our poor health decisions, if I had to pick just one thing, I thought, it would have to be an overdose of System 1 Thinking, and a deficiency of System 2 Thinking.

Systems 1 and 2 refer to different paradigms of thinking, both of which operate in very different ways. I first saw the terms used in behavioural economist Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking Fast and Slow”, but they were actually coined by psychologists Keith Stanovich and Richard West. In Kahneman’s tome, he writes about them like characters in a drama, outlining in particular the ways in which System 1, which comprises our brain’s most ancient survival mechanisms, often betrays us in modern life. Within the title, ‘thinking fast’ refers to System 1, and ‘thinking slow(ly)’ refers to System 2.

Thinking Slow

“System 1 operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and no sense of voluntary control.

System 2 allocates attention to the effortful mental activities that demand it, including complex computations. The operations of System 2 are often associated with the subjective experience of agency, choice, and concentration.”

So System 1 handles things like detecting hostility in the voice of another, driving a car on an empty road, and of course thirsting after those calorie dense burgers, double-meat gyros, and sugary soft drinks.

System 2 on the other hand allows us to consider that the above mentioned person might have just been stressed, allows us to drive on a crowded road, and enables us to think about making a healthier dinner choice.

The problem is that System 1 works faster, and System 2 requires more mental resources. So if we’re pressed for time, stressed, or just not making a conscious effort to think and act critically, we’re going to be much more susceptible to our instincts when making decisions.

And that’s why that lady asked for more mayonnaise on her burger. It’s simply faster and easier for her brain to think about mayo tasting good. But perhaps if this information were more widely available, and we all understood that this is how we make decisions, we would all be able to double-check our first instincts.

It’s very important for us to think this way, using metacognition — thinking about one’s own thoughts — to reflect on our choices. If we know that we’re susceptible to System 1 thinking all day long, we can engineer better ways around it, by reducing the cognitive load in our daily lives.

When public health campaigns fail, usually it’s because they human beings are expected to absorb information rationally, then execute the desired behaviour perfectly. But we all know that this simply isn’t our nature. You can’t outrun System 1. You can only work around it. That’s why policymakers, public health experts, and designers for behaviour change need to think slow, and not fast, when it comes to improving population health.

 
Thinking Slow
Encediscene

The Encediscene: Health Choices in the Time of Your Life

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The Encediscene: Health Choices in the Time of Your Life

Written by: Steve Ouditt        Updated: Jan, 2020     3 min read

In July 2017 our team at Vessel downloaded and read the ‘National Strategic Plan for the prevention and Control of Non Communicable Diseases: Trinidad and Tobago 2017 – 2021’, from the Ministry of Health’s website. We studied this plan from cover to cover, to understand how people are coping with NCDs [non communicable diseases] and to see what’s in store for us. We were alarmed at the danger we’re in.

NCDs are killing us and soaking up billions of dollars every year. Take a look at these stats published in the Strategic Plan. For 2015 – 62% of deaths annually were from NCDs; 25% died from heart disease; 14% died from diabetes; 13% died from cancer and 10% died from cerebrovascular disease. There are approximately 39,400 undiagnosed cases of diabetes. 50% of diabetes deaths occur before the age of 65. There are over 500 amputations a year. On page 5 of the report it tells us that there is an increase in NCD onset in people under 45 years of age. Also, compared to other Caribbean countries, our life expectancy in Trinidad and Tobago is way down the list at number 19 out of 21. We’re just above Guyana, with Haiti last.

Encediscene

These stats on paper are terrible as is, but in the lives of real humans living with NCDs, the situation is unbearable. Even if you’re rich and powerful in Trinidad and Tobago, but have a history of making bad health choices, your money and power won’t save you. It might buy you a little more time, but that’s all.

For many years in rich Trinidad and Tobago, lavish living set the scene that made it easy for people to be extravagant and careless about health choices. There were plenty easy opportunities for rich and poor to become lazier; fatter; greedier; to party harder, and to drive big pick-ups and SUVs. It became easy too, to set such bad lifestyle examples for their children. Right now Caribbean Public Health Agency [CARPHA] has a document on its website on NCDs and childhood obesity, with the hopeful title, ‘Safeguarding our Future Development’. People need to read this.

Encediscene

Our National Strategic Plan for NCDs says that the economic burden on Trinidad and Tobago, from diabetes, cancer and hypertension is about TT$8.7 billion annually. That’s more than US$ one billion per year, and almost one billion Euro a year. To put things into perspective, compared to our annual NCD spend, the rapper Drake’s worth looks like real small money, at a paltry $US100 million. Any state of our size that spends TT$8.7 billion every year on NCDs must admit that it’s losing the battle.

Here is an excerpt from page 14 of the document “Investment in prevention interventions are urgently needed to decrease the incidence and reduce the substantial economic burden. Diabetes and hypertension are due to highly modifiable behavioural factors and prevention interventions can reap huge benefits”.

Another way to say this, and how Vessel interpreted it, is like this, “We urgently need interventions to prevent these NCDs and save billions of dollars. We believe if people change their behaviour and learn better health habits, this will go a long way in reducing diabetes and hypertension.”

Encediscene
Encediscene

It’s not rocket science to understand. To put it quite simply if the state and all health agencies created brilliant interventions to prevent people from smoking too much, from abusing alcohol, from eating unhealthily, from getting obese, from raising their cholesterol and blood sugar, they would save lives and money.

Right now we’re living in the era that scientists refer to as the Anthropocene. It’s the age of heavy human domination and impact on all our ecosystems. This human domination of everything has made it easy and convenient to make bad health choices in all aspects of our lives. We’re now facing the massive and dangerous backlash that we at Vessel have named the Encediscene [NCDscene]. We imagine we’re living in the era of the NCD. Just read the plan.

Encediscene

Vessel has designed a behaviour change interactive exhibition tentatively titled ‘The Encediscene: Health Choices in the Time of Your Life.’ In upcoming posts we’ll be put up some drawings of our idea. Look out for them.

Steve.

April Exams Postponed

April Final Exams POSTPONED

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Dated: March 20, 2020

April Exams Postponed

Dear Students:

In our Internal Communique last Monday, March 17th, we indicated that we will await guidelines from the University of West Indies (UWI) regarding final exams scheduled for April.

Final exams on April have been postponed until further notice by the University. New dates will be shared when they are finalized.

Thanks for your support and please keep up with your online classes and with your health and safety precautions as outlined by the global and local health authorities.

If you have any specific questions, please free to send them to info@lokjackgsb.edu.tt


For a safe and healthy environment,

LOK JACK GSB Leadership Team.

Guyana

Lok Jack GSB Action Plan – Guyana

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Dated: March 14, 2020

Guyana

Dear Students 

We have been following very closely the developments in Guyana with respect to your elections as well as the confirmation of a case of Coronavirus in Georgetown.   Your faculty and all staff here at the School recognise that it may be a difficult time for you and your families.  

We are actively working to host all your classes online so that you can complete your courses for this trimester from the comfort of your homes.  

We recommend strongly that you use online media to communicate for group meetings and group study.   

We are working with the UWI Campus Incident Management Team to define the arrangements for examinations.  

Coronavirus

As you may know, we confirmed our first case of the Coronavirus here in Trinidad yesterday – March 12, 2020 and this will affect our campus operations. Please also stay off the streets in general and let the electoral processes take place.  It is comforting that the CARICOM leaders are there with you to guide you through this process.   We certainly expect that in the long run, all Guyanese people will come together in the interest of your development and progress.  

Please  feel free to reach out to us with any questions, or just to discuss your concerns.  You can contact your Programme Director or Student Administration Officer as you need to.  


Campus Closure

Closure of Lok Jack GSB Campus

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Dated: March 13, 2020

Campus Closure

Dear Students:

Based on the announcement made by the Prime Minister, the honourable Dr. Keith Rowley this afternoon, The Lok Jack GSB, Mt. Hope campus will be CLOSED effective tomorrow, Saturday 14th March, 2020 to Sunday 22nd March, 2020, in the first instance.

Please note that classes will be conducted online and relevant staff can be accessed via e-mail and mobile phones. 

We continued to be guided by World Health Organisation (WHO) and Ministry of Health advisories.

We are committed to safety and well-being of our students and staff.  If you have any questions or concerns, please forward to info@lokjackgsb.edu.tt

Please ensure that you keep washing your hands with soap and water, using hand sanitiser (where soap and water are unavailable) and avoid crowded places wherever possible.  STAY SAFE ALL!

The Lok Jack GSB Leadership team

April Exams Postponed

UWI-ALJGSB Final Exams

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Dated: March 17, 2020

UWI-ALJGSB Final Exams

Dear Students:

In our Internal Communique last Thursday, March 12th, we shared plans the School implemented as a result of COVID19. Key among those is the hosting of all remaining classes via online which has been effected since Saturday 14 of March. We are however aware that the School is yet to indicate plans relating to final examinations for this trimester. The University of the West Indies exercises responsibility for final examinations and the School is guided by all UWI examination policies and procedures. Consequently, we are in contact with the University on this matter and once decisions on the hosting of final examination are finalized you will be immediately informed.

Thanks for your support and please continue to exercise all health protocols outlined by the Ministry of Health

If you have any specific questions, please free to send them to info@lokjackgsb.edu.tt


For a safe and healthy environment,

LOK JACK GSB Leadership Team.

Online Technology

LOK JACK GSB IMMEDIATELY TRANSITIONS TO ONLINE OPERATIONS AMID COVID-19

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Online Technology

The UWI-Arthur Lok Jack Global School of Business (Lok Jack GSB) continues to be resilient during the COVID-19 outbreak. Effective on March 14, 2020, after the announcement by Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Keith Rowley to close all places of learning, the Business School immediately activated its IT infrastructure to facilitate the transition of face-to-face classes to online for all students and Executive Education participants and actioned its remote access policy for staff, which allows employees and faculty to effectively work from home.

The health and safety of Lok Jack GSB’s employees, faculty, students and other stakeholders are of paramount importance. As such, the Business School ensured that it acted swiftly to prevent the continued spread of the COVID-19 and eliminated the possibility of any disruption to our services and the learning process of our students.

The technology being used by staff, which includes VPN access with Softphone (Avaya One-X), allows our stakeholders, to stay connected to the Business School. We remain easily accessible through our individual work emails and extensions, and via these general channels:

We ask persons to refer to our website and social media platforms for frequent updates on the school’s activities.  These channels will be used to provide up-to-date information as it becomes available.

We take this opportunity to thank specially the IT and METS staff for having the infrastructure ready and to all staff and students for their positive response to the shift in operations, as we join the global effort to preserve our safety and well-being.

We thank you for your continued support and urge you to stay abreast of the guidance from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Ministry of Health.

Lok Jack GSB

About us: The Arthur Lok Jack Global School of Business was established in 1989 as a joint venture between The University of the West Indies and the private sector of Trinidad and Tobago to provide postgraduate education in business and management. Today, Lok Jack GSB is recognised as the premier institution for the provision of business and management education, training and consultancy services in Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean region. The motto Innovatus Ars Ducendi, means Innovating the Art of Leadership.

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FAQs for COVID-19

COVID-19 – Frequently Asked Questions

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The responses to the following frequently asked questions contain useful information issued by the World Health Organization and is intended to inform about COVID-19. The UWI, CARPHA, WHO, and Ministries of Health across the region are all reliable sources of information regarding COVID-19.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell.

Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. About 2% of people with the disease have died. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

How is COVID-19 spread?

People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 1 metre (3 feet) away from a person who shows flu-like symptoms.

Should I wear a mask?

People with no respiratory symptoms, such as the cough, do not need to wear a medical mask. WHO recommends the use of masks for people who have symptoms of COVID-19 and for those caring for individuals who have symptoms, such as cough and fever. The use of masks is crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone (at home or in a health care facility).

The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue (which should be discarded immediately), and maintain a distance of at least 1 metre (3 feet) from people who are coughing or sneezing.

Some World Health Organization (WHO) tips for minimising risk (this will be accompanied by pictures):

  • Clean hands reduces risk. Wash/Clean your hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rubs (minimum 60% of alcohol).
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Clean/sanitise your work areas with disinfectants regularly (desks etc.).
  • Keep yourself informed from reliable sources and avoid the spread of false information. (Reliable sources include The UWI, CARPHA, WHO, Ministries of Health).
  • Avoid travelling if you have a fever and cough; seek medical attention if required.
  • Manage your coughs and sneezes. Cough or sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue. Dispose of tissues immediately and wash/clean your hands.
  • The elderly or persons with cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory conditions should avoid crowded places.
  • If you have fever and are coughing or sneezing, seek medical attention and stay at home.
  • If you are sick and are at home, sleep separately from other family members, use different cutlery and utensils.
  • If you develop shortness of breath, seek medical attention immediately.

For a safe and healthy environment,

LOK JACK GSB Leadership Team.

Sources: World Health Organisation (WHO)  and Caribbean Public Health Agency

Lok Jack GSB Action Plan

NOVEL Corona Virus (COVID-19) Information for The UWI-Lok Jack GSB Community

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The rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus requires that all organisations put mitigation measures in place. With one confirmed case of the Corona virus in Trinidad and Tobago to date, the health and safety of our community is a priority for the Lok Jack GSB.

It is important that we provide you with the necessary information about the steps we are taking to ensure our compliance with the high standards of sanitation required at our facilities. We also wish to share the School’s plans to ensure continuity of classes and programmes in the event of individuals, groups or country-wide quarantine.

The Lok Jack GSB’s leadership is working closely with the University of the West Indies (UWI), government and public health agencies and continues to follow guidelines from the relevant authorities including the World Health Organization (WHO), the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the Ministry of Health.

We are committed to adopting all measures necessary to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. We will also ensure you are kept informed of significant new developments and will share information pertinent to our community, as it arises.

As you may be aware, on February 28, 2020, WHO epidemiologists increased the assessment of the risk of spread and the risk of impact of COVID-19 to very high at a global level. CARPHA subsequently upgraded the threat assessment from the Caribbean region from low to moderate to high.  

The Lok Jack GSB Plan

The Plan outlined below addresses the actions taken by the School and contingencies that will be put in place.

  1. The Lok Jack GSB has established a Working Group and is liaising with the Special COVID-19 Task Forceput in place by the University of the West Indies (UWI). The UWI’s Task Force is chaired by Professor Clive Landis, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Undergraduate Studies and former Director of the George Alleyne Chronic Disease Research Centre, who has considerable experience in the field of Caribbean public health.
  2. Upgraded cleaning and sanitising protocols to those applied in hospitals and airports with respect to use of cleaners and frequency of sanitization.

  • Frequently used surfaces areas will be cleaned and sanitised 3 times a day.
  • Disinfectant such as ethyl or isopropyl alcohol [70-90%], household bleach diluted, or hydrogen peroxide will be used for sanitisation.
  • Chemicals used are Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] – registered.
  1. Hand Sanitisers placed at strategic locations throughout the Campus
  • Reception
  • Student Administration Unit (Lobby Area and Cashier)
  • Outside Student Washrooms (ground floor)
  • Outside Student Washrooms (first floor)
  • Restaurant
  • Library
  1. Providing online access to students presenting flu-like symptoms

Protective Measures Against COVID-19

According to the World Health Organization, the following are basic protective measure against the new coronavirus:

  1. Wash your hands frequently
    • Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
  2. Maintain social distancing
    • Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  3. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
    • Why? Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
  4. Practice respiratory hygiene
    • This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
  5. If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early
    • Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. 
  6. Stay informed and follow the advice given by your healthcare provider

Please note that we will provide you with relevant information as it becomes available, while we continue to be guided by the directives from the University of the West Indies (UWI), Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education.

For any specific questions, please free to send them to info@lokjackgsb.edu.tt

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